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During the coronavirus pandemic, West Papuan people continue to be massacred in silence by the Indonesian military

 

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As Chairman of the ULMWP, it breaks my heart to learn of yet more killings and other human rights abuses against the people of West Papua. As the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, in West Papua we are also facing the ongoing massacres being committed by the Indonesian military.

Over the last 7 days, at least 4 West Papuan people have been killed, and 4 more arrested by the Indonesian security forces.

  • On 7th April, 4 West Papuan people, including an elderly woman were arrested by the Indonesian police in Timika on suspicion of supplying food to West Papuan rebels. There was neither evidence, witnesses nor adequate reason for such actions against West Papuan civilians and those responsible for their wrongful arrests must be brought to account.
  • On 9th April, 16-year-old West Papuan student Merek Maiseni was shot dead by the Indonesian military in Timika and the following day, another 16-year old West Papuan child, Melki Joani was also shot dead by the Indonesian military in Nabire.
  • Then, yesterday 13th April, West Papuan youths Eden Bebari (20 years old) and Ronny Wandik (23 years old) were shot dead while spearfishing in a local river near Kwamki Lama. A photo of Eden Bebari shows him naked with marks of torture over his body.

Following the murders of Eden and Ronny, a demonstration was held today to demand justice and I join the families of the victims in demanding that the perpetrators of these atrocities must be held immediately accountable for their crimes. How can the Indonesian government justify their presence in West Papua while killing West Papuan civilians, including children?

These are unprovoked attacks against innocent West Papuan people. While the rest of the world focuses on the coronavirus pandemic, the Indonesian government is instead focussing on continuing to massacre the people of West Papua.

Such actions undertaken by the Indonesian military are aimed at justifying their ongoing, massive military presence and further military operations in West Papua. I recently issued a statement calling upon the Indonesian government to stop their operations against West Papuans people, but they are flagrantly violating international law by continuing to arrest, torture and kill innocent civilians in an occupied country.

  • The Indonesian government must immediately stop such brutal hostilities against West Papuans and grant the long-standing request of the ULMWP, supported by 18 countries in the PIF and 79 countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group States (ACP), to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua.
  • In line with the global call by the United Nations for the release of all political prisoners due to Covid-19, the Indonesian government must immediately release all West Papuan political prisoners; including those in Kalimantan and the Jakarta six. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, political prisoners are especially at risk and are highly likely to die if infected in jail.
  • Freeport McMoran, which operates the Grabserg mine close to Timika must also be held accountable for this conflict. Through operating in the middle of a genocide, stealing the wealth from a stolen country and destroying our environment, Freeport is funding Indonesia’s military occupation. We West Papuans, not the Indonesian government are the rightful landowners and we call upon Freeport to immediately stop operating and review their presence on our sacred land. They have a moral responsibility to do so.
  • Ultimately, the only solution for West Papua is the respect and fulfilment of our fundamental right to self-determination through an independence referendum.

Benny Wenda
Chairman of The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)

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