Uniting Church Minister claims Indonesia treats West Papua like the Nazis ran Germany

03rd April 2016

webbanner 3 April

Dept. Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Trade
Rear, 838 Collins St, Docklands, Victoria
  for West Papua Rent Collective (visitors welcome)
2PM  REV. ROBERT STRINGER (video-interview)
  Joy and Pain of my Christmas in West Papua
  2016 UN Decolonisation Committee
2.30PM  BABUAN MIRINO (sub-titled video) 
  My life in West Papua as a traditional midwife
  Singing 'Fly the Freedom' a solidarity anthem for West Papua
  Signing copies of his historial fiction 'A Dowry for the Sultan'
Robert Wamena, Wamena, 2016

REV. ROBERT STRINGER, Uniting Church Elder from Melbourne, in Wamena in January 2016


Robert Stringer is a senior Uniting Church pastor who was husbanding church policy on gay civic rights and aboriginal land rights in the 1970s (almost half-a-century ago!).  In January 2016 he returned from a six-week visit to West Papua, heavily traumatised by what he saw in the Indonesian colony, and warns Australian politicians and church leaders not to ignore, or abide, the abuse of indigenous Melanesians in the Indonesian colony.

Robert was invited to West Papua by the FRWP Department of Foreign Affairs in Dockland, and his journey was guided by a West Papuan who as a student had lived with him and wife Mary.  This meant being accommodated by villagers rather than staying in hotels; eating traditional Melanesian food rather than the ubiquitous Asian fare served in transmigrasi cafes; and walking to church past all the mosques that now crowd the Papuan landscape.  It also meant secret late night meetings with resistance leaders and executives of the Federal Republic of West Papua—which he describes as a well organised shadow government.

Robert is used to the Melanesian ethos, having ministering to pre-independent Solomon Islanders, and to West Papuans in Melbourne since 2003.  He’s abreast of Melanesian nation-making endeavours, but that didn’t prepare him for the emotional impact of interacting with the underbelly of an undeclared war-zone, and confronting the brutal realities of daily life for West Papuans.  He maintains there are CLEAR PARALLELS BETWEEN LIFE IN INDONESIAN WEST PAPUA AND LIFE IN NAZI GERMANY, namely the levels of military and intelligence-police, deliberate killing of a particular nation or ethnicity (genocide), active resistance by the local population, a church divided between appeasing the government and supporting the people.

A burnt fire in Walelagama, Wamena, Asrida Elisabeth

Burned forest in Wamena, August 2015. Photo-Asrida Elisabeth

Robert spent time in WAMENA, the highland region which a couple of months earlier had been blanketed in smoke.  Smoke-haze between June and October from fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan chokes Southeast Asian populations every year. However, in 2015, for the first time, there was smoke in West Papua, sparked by the MERAUKE INTEGRATED FOOD AND ENERGY ESTATE. MIFEE is a Saudi-funded million-hectare land clearing project for producing oil palm, sugarcane, rice, and eucalyptus.  “We will make Merauke into the rice bowl of Indonesia and the world, we have millions of hectares at our disposal!” President Widodo proclaimed.  In October 2015, schools in Timika were closed and dozens of flights were cancelled [see Note 1].


Jacob, Matt Gale, Honiara, 2015, Tommy

JACOB RUMBIAK and MATT GALE in Honiara (Solomon Islands) for the 2015 Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit, which accepted West Papua’s application for membership (Photo: Tommy Latupeirissa).

Jacob Rumbiak is the Federal Republic of West Papua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.  He is also an Executive Officer of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), the national committee elected during the West Papua Leaders Summit in Vanuatu in December 2014 and mandated to carry the nation’s political agenda.

Subsequent to successful applications to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Islands Forum (two intergovernmental organizations) the ULMWP’s objective for 2016 is to have West Papua re-inserted on the UN DECOLONISATION COMMITTEE LIST.  There are still seventeen Non-Self-Governing Territories on this list (in 1945 there were eighty), most eagerly anticipating that the UN will respect and act for their right to self-determination.

[For more on Jacob Rumbiak, see Jacob Rumbiak, Picture biography, 2016].


Babuan Mirino is President of the FRWP Women’s Office in Docklands.  She was born in West Papua in 1949, the year the UN brokered peace between Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dutch colony became an independent federal republic.  She was thirteen in 1962 when the UN brokered another agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, and her country was incorporated into a fragile, broke, unitary state.  UN Pakistani soldiers over-saw the occupation.  “We were all petrified, because our parents told us the Pakistanis had been sent to fight the Indonesian soldiers, which they did, as soon as the Indonesians landed.”

BABUAN raised her seven children in the military zone that is her homeland.  And she used the MID-WIFERY skills gifted to her by her grandmother to deliver hundreds of babies for women who refused to use Indonesian government services.  IZZY BROWN, who organised the FREEDOM FLOTILLA from Central Australia to West Papua in 2013, made this documentary because traditional midwifery skills aren’t being passed from one generation to the next in the war zone.



MAJOR BARBARA TIPPER (ret.) singing FLY THE FREEDOM with Rose Turtle and The Black Orchid String Band during the West Papua Festival in Federation Square the Indonesian Consul tried to prevent.

Barbara Tipper was a member of the Australian Defence Force between 1986 and 2011, and used her military downtime to write poetry and songs.  During a rotation in South Jakarta, as an English-language consultant to the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), she visited Jayapura, the capital of West Papua.  Since retiring from the rigorous disciplines of military life, she has exploring metaphor significance and meaning in her studio on the Mornington Peninsula.  She first performed FLY THE FREEDOM, a solidarity anthem she wrote for West Papua, in Federation Square on 20 December 2014 with the BLACK ORCHID STRING BAND [for more, see NOTE 2]


Lance Collins

AUTHOR LANCE COLLINS training horses in rural Victoria in between writing A DOWRY FOR THE SULTAN and completing a dissertation on Australian Foreign Policy (Photo: Deakin University website)

Lance Collins’ historical fiction A DOWRY FOR THE SULTAN is an exquisitely detailed account of the massacre averted in the ARMENIAN town of Manzikert in 1054, when an invading army of Turkic warriors from the steppes of Central Eurasia is beaten by a concerted weave of courage, imagination, and love.  Lance Collins believes this event, on the eastern rim of the Byzantine Empire (current day Turkey), was ‘the genesis of the first genocide in the twentieth century’, drawing a direct link between the imperial invasions of the eleventh century and the ‘Armenian Genocide’ nearly a thousand years later by Ottoman government forces.

Lance, who was the Australian Defence Force’s top military strategist for years, also connects these events to Indonesia’s genocidal policies in East Timor and West Papua where he has himself witnessed the long-term consequences of war, persecution and trauma on people’s lives, and the ongoing impacts of what we now call Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. He believes “We need to recognise the truth of what transpires and oppose these crimes, whether against Armenians, East Timorese, or West Papuans.” [for more, see NOTE 3].


“A perfectly splendid novel. The story simply rips along” (John Julius Norwich, House of Lords)

“You have produced a magnificent novel, with universal relevance. You have told a great story greatly” (Paul A. Blaum)


WIN this glorious hand-woven rope-bag by signing up 2 new members to WP Rent Collective ($30/month, or $360/year)

Ring Louise Byrne on 0424745155 for entry in raffle. Winner announced: WP OPEN DAY, Sun 14 Aug 2016

Australia West Papua Assoc-Melb
BSB 063162 A/C 10300635

Rebecca, Hand-woven string-pouch from West Papua Rebecca Langley modelling the glorious hand-woven rope-bag from West Papua that YOU can win by signing up 2 new members to the West Papua Rent Collective [Photo-Jill Koppell)NOTE 1. The Global Fire Emissions Database reported that Indonesian fires in 2015 generated around 600 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, an amount described as ‘roughly equivalent to Germany’s entire annual output’. NASA claimed the 2015 haze crisis cost an estimated nine billion US dollars (ABC News, 3 October 2015, Indonesian fires sending haze across south-east Asia could become worst on record, NASA warns at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-02/indonesia-forest-fires-could-become-worst-on-record-nasa-warns/6824460)

NOTE 2. More on Barbara Tipper, including the words of Fly the Freedom, at https://dfait.federalrepublicofwestpapua.org/document/australian-army-major-fuses-glass-for-west-papua/.

NOTE 3. Review of A Dowry for the Sultan by Bishop Hilton Deakin at https://dfait.federalrepublicofwestpapua.org/_events/bishop-hilton-deakin-introducing-lance-collins-a-dowry-for-the-sultan/).
Sixty-minute interview with Lance Collins on 3CR ‘Radical Australia’ here at https://dfait.federalrepublicofwestpapua.org/a-dowry-for-the-sultan-background-interview-with-author-lance-collins-3cr-community-radio-9-nov-2015/.

FRWP OFFICE IN DOCKLANDS (03) 9049 9590 or 9049 9591; frwpwomensoffice@gmail.com; Louise Byrne 042474 5155