Indonesian police have arrested Buchtar Tabuni and Bazoka Logo, two of our most prominent liberation movement leaders, along with six others. This is another attempt to silence all freedom of expression in our country and keep down the growing sentiment of the West Papuan people.

Mr Tabuni is the Chairman of the West Papua Council, and Mr Logo is head of the ULMWP Provisional Government’s Department of Political Affairs. They were arrested at Mr Tabuni’s house today by Indonesian police, Brimob and intelligence services. They were meeting to discuss a peaceful commemoration of the inauguration of the New Guinea Council on April 5, 1961. We commemorate this date every year, to mark the formation of our sovereignty before it was stolen from us by the Indonesian invasion. What is their crime?

The ULMWP is a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, an international, state-level body. We have the right to express our opinions, and to peacefully organise for independence, in accordance with international law. We demand that the Indonesian government immediately release Buchtar Tabuni, Bazoka Logo, and the other six Papuans. All political prisoners, including Victor Yeimo and the eight students arrested in December last year, must be immediately released.

Indonesia is trying to further divert attention as the international pressure for the UN High Commissioner’s visit grows. There can be no more delay tactics: the UN must be allowed in. We have formed seven regional committees ready to welcome the High Commissioner, supporting the call of 84 countries plus the EU for Indonesia to allow her in to our occupied country.

These arrests follow a statement by the West Papua Council of Churches rejecting Indonesian policy, and follow the harassment of Reverend Socrates Yoman for speaking out for his people. There is no freedom of assembly, no freedom of speech, no freedom of expression, or religion, in West Papua. They are harassing and stigmatising the peacemakers. What is it like for the ordinary people?

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government

Buchtar Tabuni being arrested in West Papua today, March 24, 2022.