MARK COLVIN: ABC News - It's been over 40 years since the UN recognised Indonesia's control over West Papua. But many West Papuans believe that recognition, that that recognition known as the Act of Free Choice, was a sham, and they've resisted the Indonesian military ever since.
It's been a complicated and often ferocious resistance. Human rights groups say that over 400,000 people have been killed. But recently, the independence movement's been gaining steam. Last month, thousands of West Papuans rallied for independence in the biggest protests in a decade.
Clemens Runawery is a former West Papuan politician, who's been involved with the independence movement since it began. He's lived in exile ever since 1969, when Australian officials stopped him leaving Papua New Guinea to press the UN for a fair vote on independence. He spoke to me from Brisbane.
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: The younger generations in Papua are now eagerly and forcefully wanting to get out from Indonesian rule.
MARK COLVIN: So they don't just want autonomy within Indonesia?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: They don't want… Autonomy is not, it was just an appeasement strategy to show to the world 'well yes we are offering an autonomy to Papuans'. But that is not what we wanted.
You know there are several types of autonomy that we look at. The Bougainville autonomy is coming up, the parliament of PNG have endorsed the referendum that will become in the next two or three years, in 2015. The people in Bougainville will say as to whether to remain within PNG or to cede from PNG.
MARK COLVIN: Do you think that Papuans want to be part of Papua New Guinea or do they want to be a completely independent state of their own; what do they want?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: They want to be completely independent on their own. Not to be part of Papua New Guinea. But once we are independent West Papuans can forge closer relationship with PNG because we are geographically and culturally one island with one, more or less, cultural identity and position.
MARK COLVIN: The Indonesians have used what they called transmigrasi to change the demographics of Papua; are Papuans, native Papuans likely to be outnumbered?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Oh yes. Well there are about 1.7 million indigenous Papuans and about 1.8 million non-Papuans so…
MARK COLVIN: So is it possible they could have a referendum and you would be simply out-voted because of that?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Yes, but then we need to define who are to go to the poll? And in our view, in my view, and we've been addressing this one quietly, the Indonesians who came after 1963 and born and grow up there, they will not be party to the referendum.
MARK COLVIN: You can imagine that they would be very frightened then that, you say 1.8 million people, that they….
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Yes …
MARK COLVIN: … might just have their homes taken away and be sent back to Java.
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: No, no, no. When the referendum takes place they will not be taking part with it, only the Melanesians, the Papuans, or Indigenous population will go to the poll. They will have to stay out. But after the referendum they have a choice to decide, either to remain or to go home. It's up to them, we are not…
MARK COLVIN: Will they have …
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: …. going to change them.
MARK COLVIN: … the vote when you had an election, if you won the referendum?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Yes, if we won the referendum, or whichever way, but they will not be party or part of the referendum.
MARK COLVIN: Because there would be a danger of creating a new sort of Israel, a situation like Israel, wouldn't there?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Oh not only that but we're also observing what is happening in Fiji where the Indian Fijians are dominating the whole political and economical landscape there and we don't want that to happen. So we need to address this issue right now and we have to talk openly about it.
And our position is…
MARK COLVIN: So you, just to be clear there, you approve of the political repression of Indian Fijians who have been there for generations?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: Oh yes.
MARK COLVIN: You approve of that?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: We don't but we are learning from what is happening there. Demographic competition in Fiji is such that Fijians almost become minority, but what is happening there is that the Fijians still have a say, a lot of say, in the government bureaucracy and all that. But the natives…
MARK COLVIN: Fiji was working its way towards a fairly multicultural society and then there were a series of coups and the Fijians, as I say, repressed them.
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: That's right but…
MARK COLVIN: But do you approve of that…
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: … that's another angle.
MARK COLVIN: … do you think that's how it ought to go?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: No, no…
MARK COLVIN: …that Melanesian people should have more political rights than people who are not Melanesian?
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: That is a very contentious issue…
MARK COLVIN: That's why I'm asking.
CLEMENS RUNAWERY: …we need to establish a clear political landscape whereby indigenous have a lot of say but we must also allow the non-indigenous, who have been in Papua for, say, four decades, they can stay.
But the problem is this: who brought them in? They themselves came in through transmigrasi, nobody asked them to come, West Papuans never asked them to come, we never invaded Java with the vast majority of Papuans, no. So they have to listen, they have to have respect to the local community because they own the land.
In Melanesia, in Papua people are attached to the land, land is the mother. If you kill the mother then you kill your life, you future.
MARK COLVIN: Exiled former West Papuan politician, Clemens Runawery, now an active member of the country's independence movement.