City of Moreland joins Yarra and Ballarat Councils on West Papua’s self-determination

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On 14 August 2021, the City of Moreland joined two other Victorian Councils, Yarra Council and Ballarat Council, in recognising and honouring the principle of self-determination for West Papua with its planting of a Hammarskjöld Memorial Tree for West Papua in Balfe Park in Brunswick (Victoria, Australia). Covid-19 lockdown meant the large community-ceremony planned by the Council was restricted to the council gardeners planting the tree while Mayor Mark Riley spoke on zoom from his home.

Moreland City Council, Hammarskjöld-WestPapua Memorial, 14 August 2021

The link between the murder of UN Sec-General Hammarskjöld and the UN’s discard of West Papua’s self-determination project is complicated and criminal, and has taken decades to unravel. The following is a highly condensed presentation of the known facts.

In 1950 West Papua became a UN Non-Self-Governing Territory under Dutch administration (UN Res 448 (V)). At the UN in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, Indonesia argued for UN recognition of its claim to sovereignty, but all four endeavours failed.  Indonesia then turned to parachuting military into West Papua, radio-broadcasting integration propaganda, and acquiring weapons from both Cold War superpowers (the US and USSR) for an invasion and takeover. Early in 1961, Hammarskjöld drew on UN Res. 1514 (XV) to embed Papuan sovereignty over Papuan land and developed a Decolonisation Program for the territory. He planned to introduce the program to the 1961 General Assembly.  Three days before the Assembly he was killed in a plane ‘crash’ now believed to have been ordered by CIA director Allen Dulles (Greg Poulgrain 2020 JFK vs Allen Dulles: Battleground Indonesia). Without Hammarskjöld’s influential presence the Assembly didn’t pass the motion with a two-thirds majority. Hammarskjöld’s replacement (U Thant) sponsored a so-called ‘peace treaty’, organised by the Kennedy Administration, whereby West Papua was passed to Indonesia after a seven-month UN Trust Administration to oversee the exit of Dutch personnel.  Dutch negotiators did manage to get ‘self-determination’ included in the treaty (the New York Agreement) but all the UN signatorees knew that Indonesia didn’t recognise the principle (and still doesn’t) even if its constitution declares every nation’s right to it. Consequently there has never been an act of self-determination in West Papua, and to this day West Papua remains an Indonesian colony. 

Ballarat and Yarra Councils, Hammarskjöld-West Papua Memorials, September 2020

The Living Memorial project is registered with the UN75 Committee, and in December 2021, the video-recordings of the sixty Hammarskjöld-WestPapua Living Memorials planted in 2021-2021 will be presented to UN Secretary-General Guterres.

Videos of all the Hammarskjöld-West Papua Memorials planted in 2020-2021

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