Lukas Enembe, the Governor of Papua Province, is the latest Papuan leader to be criminalised by the Indonesian state. On spurious grounds, he has been accused of corruption and banned from travelling abroad for vital medical treatment.

This news arrives soon after the arrest of Eltinus Omaleng, the head of Mimika Regency, on equally false corruption charges. Indonesia’s message is clear: any Papuan who speaks with their own voice, who works for their people, is criminalised. Indonesia is afraid of West Papuans, even those who work within Indonesian institutions. 

Just as with Omaleng, Governor Enembe’s accounts have been vetted by the Indonesian state’s own Auditing body. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are trying to find a crime where there is none. West Papuans have responded by mobilising around Enembe’s house to defend the Governor.

Enembe’s real crime is condemning the humanitarian catastrophe Indonesia is inflicting on our people, saying that ‘Intan Jaya is crying, Puncak Papua is crying, Nduga is crying, Maybrat is crying. Yahukimo people, Bintang mountain people cry. Papuans do not live safely in our own country.’ His real crime is opposing the colonial creation of three new provinces in West Papua – a divide and rule tactic by Indonesia that will help them further destroy our river, tear down our forest and mountain, and steal our natural resources. This law, part of the 2021 renewal of the ‘Special Autonomy’ programme, is rejected by the people of West Papua. Mass protests were organised against it, and over 600,000 of us signed a petition rejecting ‘Special Autonomy’. When Enembe speaks for his people, Indonesia criminalises him.

While Indonesia pursues fake corruption charges against West Papuan leaders, the Indonesian military tortures, murders, and mutilates Indigenous West Papuans. After the recent torture and killing of Bruno Kimko in police custody, Indonesian soldiers put 200 million Rupiah – roughly £11,000 – on his coffin. This is the cost of a Papuan life to the Indonesian state.

With the UN General Assembly ongoing, I am again calling on the UN Human Rights Commissioner to pay urgent attention to the situation in West Papua. According to the UN’s own figures, up to 100,000 West Papuans have been displaced by Indonesian militarisation since 2019. They live as refugees in their own land, without proper medical care or education, and with their churches and schools occupied by colonial forces. Hundreds have died from lack of food and water as the land has been transformed into a warzone. 

These are not singular abuses or one-off crimes. When Indonesian soldiers butcher four West Papuans, cutting off their heads and legs, it is part of a systematic attempt to destroy the Indigenous people, crush our will to resist, and silence our voice. It is the same with Governor Enembe.

It is vital that the UN listens to our cries. We need all 84 countries who have called for the UN High Commissioner visit to increase the effort to expose the crimes of occupation to the world. 

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government