The Indonesian Government is pursuing peace in Myanmar while continuing to perpetrate unspeakable and inhuman crimes against the people of West Papua. 

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has announced that as the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia will set up a Special Envoy’s office to deal with the post-coup crisis in Myanmar. Indonesia’s claim to be committed to the principles of democracy and good governance could not be further from the truth: they have debased them in West Papua for over sixty years. 

There is overwhelming evidence that Indonesia is committing crimes against humanity, genocide, and ethnic cleansing in West Papua. By setting up a Special Envoys’s office in Myanmar, Indonesia is seeking to restore a regional consensus that called for an end to violence, the provision of humanitarian assistance, and all-party dialogue. But they violate these commitments every single day in West Papua.  

There is no end to violence for the indigenous West Papuans who face down a foreign army, who are murdered in cold blood by occupation soldiers while they tend their gardens or walk to school. Humanitarian assistance is systematically denied to the 100,000 West Papuans who have been forcibly displaced by Indonesian military operations in the past four years. Only one month before Indonesia set up this office, their military displaced another 100 civilians on Yapen Island. And any claim to want all-party dialogue is a cruel joke – I have offered for years to sit down with President Joko Widodo and discuss a peaceful resolution to the West Papuan question, but have never received a response.  

Since the 2021 coup, the Myanmarese junta has carried out a widespread campaign of torture, arbitrary arrests and brutality that has resulted in the deaths of over 1700 people. We are thankful that Indonesia wants to show solidarity with the suffering of Myanmar’s people, but their hypocrisy is damaging to peace and justice everywhere. Every crime the junta are committing in Myanmar, Indonesia have committed a thousand times over in West Papua.  

Burning villages, occupying schools, arresting peaceful protesters, torturing children, deploying over 25,000 troops to terrorise civilians – Indonesia is committing state terrorism in West Papua, turning our land into a warzone for the benefit of corrupt Generals and international corporations. At the same time, they are employing the same delaying tactics they have used for years to prevent international scrutiny of their occupation. 

Minister Marsudi cannot claim to be acting in accordance with international norms when Indonesia still refuses to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua, five years after they vowed to do so. Over eighty countries have now called for this visit to happen. The international community must ensure there is no more delay: the UN must be allowed into West Papua before more of my people are killed. 

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government