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Archives Show U.S. Support For Indonesia Abuses

Indonesia's 1969 Takeover of West Papua Not by "Free Choice"

National Security Archive Update, July 9, 2004

Indonesia's 1969 Takeover of West Papua Not by "Free Choice"

Document Release Marks 35th Anniversary of Controversial Vote and Annexation

Secret Files Show U.S. Support for Indonesia, Human Rights Abuses by Indonesian Military

For more information: Brad Simpson: 208-241-2617

Washington D.C., July 9, 2004 - "You should tell [Suharto] that we understand the problems they face in West Irian," national security adviser Henry Kissinger wrote President Nixon on the eve of Nixon's July 1969 visit to Indonesia according to previously secret documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The presidential trip coincided with Indonesia's holding of the "Act of Free Choice" voting by which it legitimized its annexation of the territory of West Irian (now known as West Papua).

Marking the 35th anniversary of the "Act of Free Choice" and in the midst of Indonesia's first direct presidential elections, the National Security Archive posted formerly secret documents detailing U.S. support for Indonesia's controversial 1969 takeover of the West Papua.

These documents were recently declassified by the State Department and the Richard Nixon Presidential Materials collection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This briefing book is the first publication of the National Security Archive's Indonesia documentation project, which is seeking the release of thousands of secret U.S. documents concerning U.S. policy toward Indonesia and East Timor from 1965-1999. The project aims to assist efforts to document and seek accountability for more than three decades of human rights abuses committed during the rule of Indonesian President Suharto (1965-1998).

Among the revelations in these formerly secret documents:

* Agreement among U.S. and other Western officials that "Indonesia could not win an open election" and that the vast majority of West Irian's inhabitants favored independence.

* U.S. officials attempted to convince the United Nations representative for the "Act of Free Choice," Bolivian diplomat Ortiz Sanz, that independence for West Irian was "inconceivable."

* U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Frank Galbraith warned that Indonesian military operations and abuses in West Irian, resulting in the deaths of possibly hundreds of civilians "had stimulated fears and rumours of intended genocide among the Irianese."

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