Indonesia has cut off the internet in West Papua to conceal its crack-down on the peaceful liberation movement. Erik Walela, secretary of the ULMWP Department of Political Affairs, is in hiding, and two of his relatives – Abi (32) and Anno (31) – were arrested by the colonial Indonesian police on June 1.

Victor Yeimo, spokesperson of the KNPB, has already been arrested. I am concerned that all the ULMWP leaders and departments inside West Papua are now at risk after Indonesia has tried to stigmatise us as ‘terrorists’. The head of Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has stated that it considers the entire liberation movement, including anyone associated with me, to be terrorists.

Anyone who stands up to injustice in West Papua is now in danger. Indonesia is cutting off the internet to conceal its crack-down and military operations, continuing its long tradition of concealing information from the world by banning international journalists and spreading propaganda. The only way anyone can currently access the internet inside is by standing near a military, police, or government building.

They have tried to label us ‘separatists’, ‘armed criminal groups’, and in 2019, ‘monkeys’. Now they are labelling us ‘terrorists’. This is nothing but more discrimination against the entire people of West Papua and our struggle to uphold our basic right to self-determination. I want to remind the UN and the Pacific and Melanesian leaders that Indonesia is misusing the issue of terrorism to crush our fundamental struggle for the liberation of our land from illegal occupation and colonisation.

Over 21,000 troops have been deployed in less than three years, including last month ‘Satan’s forces’ implicated in genocide in East Timor. Densus 88, trained by the West, are also using their skills against my people. These operations are being carried out on the direct order of the President and the head of the parliament. My people are traumatised, scared to go to their gardens, to hunt or fish. Everywhere they turn there are military posts and bases. How long will the world ignore my call? How long can the world watch what is happening to my people and stand by?

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government