Sir: We were pleased to read the article by Aidan Rankin on the situation in West Papua. We worked for many years with the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea, and count the people of that land as personal friends and colleagues. They are, as Melanesians, of the same race as the people of West Papua. Melanesians are a different racial group from Indonesians. The only logic that links West Papua to Indonesia is the logic of empire, since the only reason for unity was the control by their former Dutch colonists.
The local people of West Papua have every right to mistrust the Indonesian military, who show them scant respect. The Indonesians want to drive the Dani tribe from their traditional land, on which their way of life and hence their very existence depends, in order to get at the minerals underneath. The ripping out of the minerals is a ripping out of a people. The concomitant policy of transmigrating Indonesians into West Papua will have the effect of smothering the local culture. How can ethnic cleansing be more excusable in West Papua than it is anywhere else?