Cassowary and child in West Papua - both threatened by large-scale resource extraction in Papua.


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West Papua

Photo: Maire Leadbeater

Caritas calls for an end to human rights abuses in West Papua, upholds the rights of indigenous Papuans to determine their future, and urges peaceful dialogue to resolve tensions there.

Cassowary and child in West Papua - both threatened by large-scale resource extraction in Papua.

West Papua lies 250km north of Australia. It forms the western half of the island of New Guinea, adjacent to the independent state of Papua New Guinea. West Papua passed to Indonesian control in the 1960s in dubious circumstances as it emerged from Dutch colonisation.

Called Irian Jaya by Indonesia, it is split into two administrative provinces of Indonesia: Papua (the bulk of the island) and West Papua (the westernmost end). 

Indonesian control has brought a heavy military presence, human rights abuses, and the impact of large numbers of Indonesian migrants. 

Caritas supports the 'Papua: Land of Peace' interfaith initiative working for a peaceful resolution to the problems facing the region. We also support Catholic Secretariats for Justice and Peace (SKP), and the Yasanto programme working with Papuan women on agriculture and small business opportunities.


In May 2015, Indonesia's new president Joko Widodo signalled restrictions on foreign media access to West Papua were being lifted. There is uncertainty over if this is a genuine sign that Indonesia is moving towards greater transparency in West Papua.


Reports of students and protesters being shot continue to flow into our media and the cases of human rights abuses continue to remain an issue, alongside the ongoing marginalisation of indigenous Papuans.

Caritas supported a September 2011 statement from a West Papua solidarity gathering in  Auckland which called on (among other things):

  • The United Nations Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative to investigate the situation in West Papua;
  • The New Zealand government to play a role in mediating peaceful dialogue between West Papuan representatives and the Indonesian government, as well as ceasing military ties with Indonesia until the human rights of West Papuans are respected

Read the full statement including supporting organisations here.


Read more:

One World Partnership newsletter about West Papua

West Papua – History

Caritas programmes in West Papua

Faith-based Network on West Papua 

Papua Land of Peace Day

This is celebrated on 5 February, see the liturgy below and read more here.




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