SOUTH MALUKU REPUBLIC the sad but true history of the ‘Spice Islands’ [NB: Graphic scenes of Political Torture, Squeamish Advisory ]
While I was one of 2 Indigenous representatives in the Caribbean Caucus at the Seventh Session of the recently concluded United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York (April 21-May 2 2008), I was fortunate to meet a representative of the Alifuru people and I was shocked to learn the truth from her – for we in the Caribbean also believed the deception put out by the Indonesian Government. My Alifuru friend had come to the UN to seek help for a group of her people who were sentenced recently to life imprisonment for merely showing the flag of the Republik Maluku Selatan (South Maluku Republic) which is outlawed by the Indonesian occupational forces – at a performance for the current President of Indonesia.
For anyone doubting the veracity of her story – take note of this incident, my friend had to leave the UN abruptly and we did not understand why we did not see her again – until we learned that 2 Indonesian military personnel had come to the UN looking for her… the Alifurus cannot even feel safe at the United Nations headquarters itself!
The Alifurus are the indigenous inhabitants of the Maluku archipelago – situated between the Philippines to the north and Australia to the South – just above East Timor with the Arafura (Alifuru) Sea and West Papua to the East.
The Alifurus are a semi-nomadic Melanesian tribal people that traditionally lived by hunting, fishing and the cultivation of spices.
Before the invasion by western colonialists, merchants from China and Arabia came to Maluku to trade for the spices. The legendary name of “Spice Islands”. After Britain, Spain and Portugal, Holland succeeded in conquering the islands in 1599; and Maluku became part of the Dutch colonial empire: The Dutch East Indies.
With the arrival of Dutch colonialism the ancestral name of Alifuru was prohibited because it was considered ‘primitive’ and ‘savage’.
Alifuru men were forced into the colonial army (the KNIL) while the Dutch colonialists held the trade monopoly over the spices.
Virtually the entire Alifuru population of the island of Banda was wiped out and the spice plantations burnt down – when the islanders of Banda tried to evade the spice monopoly imposed by the Dutch colonialists – and peacefully sell their production to other traders .
All resistance by the indigenous Alifurus during the Dutch colonialism were punished without mercy and the leaders publicly hanged; some of the most famous ones were Thomas Matulesy (Pattimura) and Martha Christina Tiahahu.
On December 27th 1949 Holland transferred the sovereignty of its colonial empire to the ‘United States of Indonesia’, a then existing federation of 16 independent states. It was not long before the most powerful federal state – the Indonesia Republic, abolished by force the Federation and replaced Dutch colonialism with Indonesian neo-Colonialism.
Aware of the imminent danger and conscious of the then Indonesian criminal President Sukarno’s lust for expansionism, the Alifuru people demanded their own Maluku government take immediate steps to safeguard their freedom and right of self-determination; thus on April 25th 1950 – the Republik Maluku Selatan was proclaimed Independent.
This proclamation of Independence was in full conformity with the international Agreements that were signed between the Dutch Government and all parties concerned – and to which the United Nations was a co-signatory.
The peaceful existence of the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS) was abruptly violated with the naked aggression of the Indonesian Army… and this was immediately followed by a total blockade of the Maluku islands – assisted by Dutch naval vessels.
Four months after the RMS Independence the Republik Indonesia proclaimed the Unitarian State of Indonesia on August 17th 1950.
The Alifuru People’s war in maluku against the illegal Indonesian annexation and occupation lasted 10 years before it evolved into an underground guerrilla warfare due to the naval blockade. The Alifuru people are still fighting for their freedom and rightful place among the sovereign states of the world.
The Indonesian oppression is omnipresent in Maluku and continues to seize every opportunity to eradicate physically, mentally and psychologically – the Alifuru People’s continued existence.
In 1999 Indonesia provoked a war in Maluku and labelled it a ‘religious war‘ between Christians and Muslim Moluccans. While the world media was digesting the bogus Indonesian ‘religious war‘ cover story, Indonesian military troops engaged in full-scale war in Maluku. In 2000 the Indonesian commander of the Laskar Jihad Forces (Jafar Umar Talib) declared a ‘holy war‘ against Maluku.
They invaded Maluku with thousands of Jihad fighters and more than 40,000 Alifuru people were killed by them in a four year murderous rampage.
The Laskar Jihad abolished itself in 2004 to evade the international attention that was finally being focused on the truth behind the conflict. The Indonesian military is still an occupying power in Maluku.