Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2019
Reports of the Indonesian military using white phosphorous munitions on West Papuan civilians in December are only the latest horror in a decades-old jungle war forgotten by the world. But new geopolitical maneuvering may soon change the balance of power here, prompting regional concern about an intensifying battle for this rich remote province of Indonesia. It is time for the US and Australia to change policy, complementing Pacific island diplomacy, or risk a major strategic setback at the crossroads of Asia and the Pacific.
Once again, Papuan highlanders have fled their villages into the bush where they are starving and being hunted by Indonesian security forces.
Fighting between OPM (Free Papua Movement) guerrillas and the Indonesian military has increased in recent months creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in a region cut off from the world: Indonesia prevents all foreign media and NGOs from operating here. This makes West Papua perhaps the only territory besides North Korea that is so inaccessible to the international community.