Viktor Kaisiepo, died on Sunday 31 January 2010 at the age of 61. A Papuan nationalist who vigorously represented his own tribal community as well as the hundreds of communities in West Papua to preserve their right to self-determination from control by Indonesia. Viktor’s work was not finished.
Viktor and I first met in Amsterdam in 1984 when both West Papua and the Chittagong Hill Tracts were being violently attacked by both the Indonesian government (West Papua) and the Bangladesh (Chittagong Hill Tracts). Both governments were carrying forward a World Bank policy of “Transmigration,” only the World Bank did not see itself as supporting invasions of indigenous territories with armed forces. Transmigration was supposed to be an “economic and humanitarian” program aimed at moving crowded populations of 20 million from small areas (Java in Indonesia) (the Delta region in Bangladesh) into indigenous territories. The problem with this scheme was that armed forces were being used to kill, rape, pillage and displace hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples in both West Papua and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
How to bring this carnage to an end? Viktor and I and many others began working on a plan to use a “pocket book strategy” against each of the states to force them to stop killing indigenous people, and stop their invasions. The effort was aimed at stopping funds from flowing out of the World Bank and thus bankrolling the wars against Papuans and against the Hill Tract Tribes. Viktor became a strong advocate and tireless speaker on behalf of the peoples of West Papua and stressed peaceful separation of West Papua from Indonesia. An organizer, thoughtful philosopher, diplomat, and political leader, Viktor Kaisiepo made a huge mark on the future of West Papua and he taught many to think proactively for a peaceful world. Thank you Viktor. It was great to know you. Now others must pick up the spear and the peace offerings to continue your work.
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