We now have hard evidence that Indonesia is secretly bombing West Papua with ammunition bought in Europe.

A report by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an arms monitoring group, has shown that Indonesia is converting mortar shells bought from Serbia for use in military raids on West Papuan villages. Indonesia’s repeated military operations have created a humanitarian crisis in West Papua. According to the UN, between 60,000 and 100,000 rural West Papuans have been displaced over the past four years.

Nduga regency has been under siege since 2018, with over 45,000 Nduga people having to abandon their homes, churches and schools due to Indonesian aggression. But as Indonesia has intensified their military occupation, sending 25,000 additional troops over the past three years, the internal displacement has spread to other areas like Intan Jaya and Oksibil.

West Papuans holding up Indonesian bombs dropped on their village

West Papuans have tried to show the world bombshells left scattered around their homes – evidence of Indonesia’s horrific military raids – but we have been ignored. Seeing my people hold up bombs brings back traumatic memories of my childhood, when helicopters came and bombed my village in the highlands. Then, like now, it was the defenceless villagers, the woman and children and elderly, who suffered the most.

Thanks to this report, we have proof that munitions bought from Europe are directly contributing to the displacement of my people. We need a visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: the case for this visit has never been clearer. The war Indonesia is fighting against West Papua is illegal under international law.

West Papuans have called for a UN visit for years, but because of Indonesia’s influence and the apathy of the outside world, we have not been taken seriously. Just as they prevent journalists and NGOs from operating in West Papua, Indonesia has consistently blocked a UN visit because they know what they are doing is illegal. They use their influence, their power and money to attack our call for self-determination and human rights.

This is exactly what is happening in my hometown of Oxford, where two Indonesian businessmen have bought the local football club, Oxford United. Why? Simply because of my presence here, to scare me and influence the town against me. This isn’t Indonesia’s only recent investment in Oxford: in 2017, the Indonesian embassy sponsored the Cowley Road Carnival.

Oxford is one of the richest and most prestigious cities in the world. Why do we need Indonesia’s money? That money should go to the slums in Jakarta, the people living in extreme poverty across Indonesia. It should not be used to attack West Papuan self-determination.

The people of Oxford need to understand the intentions behind these investments. One of the new owners, Anindya Bakrie, is a big investor in the Grasberg mine, where for fifty years my people have been murdered and our forests chopped down.

Football is the people’s game and Oxford United are a people’s club. Everyone is proud of them here, including me. But this is blood money.

Indonesia knows these tactics will not stop fighting for merdeka, for self-determination and independence. There is only one peaceful solution to this issue: for President Widodo to sit down with me and discuss a referendum on independence. It is time for Indonesia to listen to our call, and allow us to decide our own destiny.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government