Today, on UN Human Rights Day, I am calling on the Indonesian government to withdraw every troop from Nduga, Intan Jaya, Ilaga and all West Papua. New sweeping operations have just been launched in the villages and highlands of Intan Jaya, where the bloodshed is hidden, and 16 people have been arrested at a peaceful demonstration in Nabire.

The Indonesian government is greeting this day of human rights with violence and war. The Governor of Papua even put out a report today describing Intan Jaya as an ‘armed conflict zone’ flooded with members of the Indonesian military (TNI). A UN visit to West Papua, called for by 82 international states, is more urgent than ever.

These new operations follow our announcement of the formation of the ULMWP Provisional Government on December 1. Indonesia’s martial law regime is responding to our every move by turning West Papua into a military operation zone. Indonesian death squads are now roaming highland areas killing Papuans, including children, with impunity. These new sweeping operations will only lead to more arrests, more torture, and more killing.

These operations are taking place in the very region where several religious leaders were killed last month. The independent humanitarian team investigating the killing of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani described his killing by the Indonesian military as a ‘crime against humanity’. How many more leaders and civilians are going to be killed as a result of these operations?

The West Papua Council of Churches, comprised of four of the biggest denominations in West Papua, has issued a letter to President Widodo. The churches support the formation of the Provisional Government, and call for Widodo to hold negotiations with me to establish a just and democratic referendum process. I hope Widodo listens to the church leaders’ voice of humanity.

My people are not going to be able to enjoy Christmas, with the fear of the Indonesian police and military surrounding them. For their protection, and so the world can see the truth, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights must be allowed in to West Papua. Her office issued an urgent statement of concern over human rights abuses in West Papua last week. As the Interim President of the Provisional Government of West Papua, I issue this warning to the world: Indonesia will stop at nothing to silence our cry for freedom.

To my people, I’m calling on everyone to unite in one spirit behind the ULMWP Provisional Government. The world cannot see us as an NGO group anymore, but must know we are serious and ready to take over our country. The Indonesian government media is trying to divide us with propaganda – they know how important our unity is. Our unity is our strength. We are all fighting to end Indonesian rule and the coloniser’s control of our land. Together, we can achieve it.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
Provisional Government of West Papua

Brimob special forces operation in Intan Jaya, December 9, 2020.

Arrests at a demonstration in Nabire, December 10, 2020.