American mining companies, transmigration, and land appropriation are slowly pushing Papua New Guinea’s indigenous Christian population into extinction. Indigenous Melanesian Christians, which composed 96% of the population in 1971, is projected to be as little as 29% in 2020. Since the 1970’s, hundreds of thousands of indigenous West Papuans have died fighting for self-rule. Although the conflict has died down, religious and political leaders are still trailed and intimidated by police. Environmentally destructive mining practices are slowly wiping out any form of income the indigenous people had. The government’s policy of transmigrating a predominantly Muslim population from crowded Indonesian islands has displaced the local population. A fact finding mission by the Brisbane Archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission called what was happening in West Papua New Guinea a “slow-motion genocide.”
11/2/2016 Papua New Guinea (The Guardian) – In 1936, Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy climbed the world’s highest island peak: the forbidding Mount Carstensz, a snow-covered silver crag on what was then known as Dutch New Guinea. During the 4,800-metre ascent, Dozy noticed an unusual rock outcrop veined with green streaks. Samples he brought back confirmed exceptionally rich gold and copper deposits.
Today, these remote, sharp-edged mountains are part of West Papua, Indonesia, and home to the Grasberg mine, one of the biggest gold mines – and third largest copper mine – in the world. Majority-owned by the American mining firm Freeport McMoRan, Grasberg is now Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer, with reserves worth an estimated $100bn (£80bn).
But a recent fact-finding mission (by the Brisbane Archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission) described a “slow-motion genocide” (pdf) taking place in West Papua, warning that its indigenous population is at risk of becoming “an anthropological museum exhibit of a bygone culture”.