The Chairman of the United Liberation for West Papua Mr Benies Wenda is calling on the general public in West Papua to boycott the election this week. This week is incredibly important for the people of West Papua’s collective memory. At the
end of the week, we will commemorate the 58th anniversary of our country being signed away
to Indonesia, and mark a year since the West Papua Uprising, sparked by racist attacks from
Indonesian security services. Instead of celebrating Indonesian Independence Day, August
15-17 must be days of mourning and reflection for all West Papuans.
On August 15, 1962, secret negotiations between Indonesia, the Netherlands and the United
States governments decided the fate of my people. No West Papuans were consulted, and the
referendum promised to us in the 1962 New York Agreement never took place. To us West
Papuans, the New York Agreement is an agreement of broken promises.
This is the root cause of our suffering, the root cause of 500,000 of us losing our lives at hand
of Indonesia. The entire population of West Papua is united to reject the New York
Agreement and Indonesia’s illegal occupation and colonisation of our land.
We will express that rejection by refusing to participate in Indonesia’s Independence Day
celebration on August 17. We don’t recognise Indonesian Independence Day in West Papua –
our land is not Indonesia, and this is not our independence day. We still await our true
independence day when we finally regain our right to freely determine our own political
Instead, we will stay at home and mourn the first anniversary of the 2019 West Papua
Uprising. On August 17-18 last year, West Papuan students in the city of Surabaya were
barricaded in their dorms by Indonesian security forces and nationalist gangs. The students
were subjected to brutal racial abuse, called ‘monkeys’ and ‘dogs’ and told to ‘go home to
Papua’. In response, the people of West Papua launched their biggest uprising in twenty
years. Hundreds of thousands came out to reject racism and discrimination and to demand a
referendum on independence.
As we celebrated World Indigenous Day this month, 30-year-old Indigenous West Papuan
Sius Ayemi was arrested by Indonesia for leading Indigenous rallies. This is how Indonesia
respects World Indigenous Day – by arresting Indigenous people for celebrating own identity
and culture. We demand the immediate release of Sius Ayemi.
We are focused on the continued killing we face at the hands of the Indonesian State. In
Nduga and elsewhere, Indonesian military build-ups continue. Killings, torture and
discrimination is intensifying: just this month, soldiers from a new military base in
Tambrauw village beat local villages for no reason other than the colour of their skin.
Indonesia is also diverting Covid-19 funds into military operations.
We are focused on rejecting Jakarta’s new attempts to impose ‘Special Autonomy Volume II’
on us. All of West Papuan civil society has rejected Special Autonomy and any attempt to
renew it: the churches, political organisations, ordinary people, even the bodies set up by
Jakarta under the Special Autonomy provisions – all reject it. We do not want more fake
‘autonomy’ and we will only intensify our struggle for genuine self-determination, achieved
through an internationally-supervised referendum on independence.