Australian Left Review


Peter Savage


Recent writing on West Irian has described the cultural dynamics of the present conflict {Sharp, 1977) and the social origins and political development o f the freedom movement (Savage 1978a, 1978b). This article describes, from the limited data available, the size and spread of the Free Papua Movement, and attempts to give some indication of the ferocity of Indonesian counter-insurgency measures. Some Australian politicians have been quick to deny that anything of consequence is occurring in West Irian. Others, along with even fewer of their British and American colleagues, and one or two Australian newspaper editors, have waxed indignant at the impropriety of Indonesian actions in West Irian, with predictable lack of effect. As yet, no (publicly available) evaluation of the seriousness of the movement has been made. Nor has any systematic account been given of the number killed, nor of the destruction of industries and villages. It is the aim of this article to begin to remedy that lack.



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