ULMWP Chairman: Stop Indonesian repression of the people of West Papua

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Over the past three days, the people of West Papua have continued their historic struggle against Indonesian occupation. They have gathered to call, successfully, for the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to take a stand on West Papua. They have rallied to commemorate the 1962 New York Agreement, which handed us over to Indonesia. Yesterday, on August 17, they demonstrated against Indonesia’s colonial attempt to impose its national Independence Day upon us.

In response to this peaceful outpouring, we have been met with arrests, beatings and abuse given out by the Indonesian colonisers. Every month, the world is given horrifying new evidence of the Indonesian state’s violent intention to crush the West Papuan people’s demand for freedom and self-determination.

On August 15, Indonesia arrested 158 people during demonstrations in support of the ULMWP’s operations at the Pacific Islands Forum. These demonstrations ranged across cities in West Papua and Indonesia itself. In Jayapura, a seven-year-old child was among the 76 people arrested. In Malang, five people were beaten and bloodied by the Indonesian security services. The head of the ULMWP’s political bureau, Bazoka Logo, was arrested for exercising his right to free expression.

I am calling for the Indonesian President to immediately release Bazoka Logo. He has not committed any crimes – he only helped to organise peaceful marches to ensure Vanuatu’s efforts around West Papua in the Pacific Islands Forum were supported.

Yesterday, on Indonesia’s Independence Day, this violence continued. At the dormitory of the West Papuan Student’s Alliance (Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua –AMP) in Surabaya, students were barricaded in their dormitories by Indonesian security services whilst nationalist groups screamed racial abuse at Papuans. We Papuans are familiar with the poison of racism experienced daily at the hands of Indonesia. This is the dehumanisation that allows the Indonesian military to burn our houses in Nduga, that allows Indonesian intelligence to execute us on the spot, that allows Indigenous land to be grabbed for Indonesian ‘development’ projects.

If Indonesia can celebrate the victory of its Independence struggle against the Dutch, why can’t West Papuans celebrate that same spirit of anti-colonialism by calling for their own independence? Why is Indonesia, on the anniversary of its independence, displaying the very colours of imperialism and racism which the Europeans once directed against them?

Indonesia calls my people monkeys and tells them to ‘go home’. So now I am telling the President of Indonesia to give my people the freedom to go to their home without being killed, arrested, tortured, harassed and discriminated against.

Benny Wenda
Chairman
United Liberation Movement for West Papua