The Indonesian government is speaking out about Myanmar and Palestine whilst voting to ignore genocide and ethnic cleansing at the UN. We are thankful that Indonesian leaders show solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinians and Myanmarese, but Indonesia is desperately trying to cover up its own crimes against humanity in West Papua.

At the UN General Assembly last week, Indonesia defied the overwhelming majority of the international community and joined North Korea, Russia and China in rejecting a resolution on ‘the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’. Whilst the Indonesian Foreign Minister claims to ‘fight for humanity’, the truth is the opposite: they are committing crimes against humanity in West Papua and trying to ensure their perpetual impunity at the UN.

Indonesian leaders often talk about the right to self-determination and human rights, and the Indonesian constitution’s preamble calls for ‘any form of alien occupation’ to be ‘erased from the earth’. But in West Papua, the Indonesia government is carrying out the very abuses it claims to oppose. Their refusal to accept the UN resolution is clearly the consequence of ‘the Papuan question’, as the Jakarta Post put it.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Indonesia has committed crimes against humanity, colonialism, ethnic cleansing and genocide in West Papua. The same week as the UN vote, the Indonesian military – including ‘Satan’s troops’ implicated in genocide in East Timor – were attacking Papuan villages, killing unarmed women and children and adding to the over 50,000 people displaced since December 2018. The stated aim of the operations is to ‘wipe out’ all resistance to Indonesian colonialism. When you displace villagers, they lose their hunting ground, their home, their entire way of life. This is systematic ethnic cleansing, part of a long-running strategy of Jakarta’s occupation to take over our lands and populate it with Indonesian settlers and multi-national corporations. This is the intent, and we need action before it is too late.

After declaring resistance to the illegal occupation ‘terrorism’, Indonesia is launching a massive crack down. Victor Yeimo, one of our most popular peaceful resistance leaders, has already been arrested. Frans Wasini, a member of the ULMWP’s Department of Political Affairs, was also arrested. In the city, students at the University of Cenderawasih are being dragged out of their dorms by the police and military and made homeless. Anyone who speaks out about West Papua, human rights abuses and genocide, is now at risk of being arrested, tortured or killed. Victor Yeimo, Frans Wasini, and all those arrested by the Indonesian colonial regime must be released immediately.

Sending over 21,000 troops, killing religious leaders, occupying schools, shooting children dead – this is state terrorism, crimes against the people of West Papua. Indonesia’s leaders know what they are doing. They have sent the TNI, police, ‘counter-terrorism’ units, ‘Satan’s troops’, and intelligence services into West Papua. These units compete with each other to see who can kill my people more efficiently, who can steal our land more actively. Those most able to wipe out our population will gain in rank. My people have been turned into an object of Jakarta’s imperial games.

These developments show more clearly than ever the need for Indonesia to stop blocking the visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Eight-four countries have already called for the visit. There can be no more delays. The troops must be withdrawn, and the UN allowed in before more catastrophe strikes.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government