The eyes of the world are watching in horror the invasion of Ukraine. We feel their terror, we feel their pain and our solidarity is with these men, women and children. We see their suffering and we weep at the loss of innocent lives, the killing of children, the bombing of their homes, and for the trauma of refugees who are forced to flee their communities.

The world has spoken up to condemn the actions of Putin and his regime. The world also applauds the bravery and spirit of Ukrainians in their resistance; as they defend their families, their homes, their communities, and their national identity.

Last week, Indonesia’s permanent representative to the UN said that the military attack on Ukraine is unacceptable and called for peace. That innocent civilians ‘will ultimately bear the brunt of this ongoing situation’.

But what about innocent civilians in West Papua? At the UN, Indonesia speaks of itself as ‘a peaceful nation’ committed to a world ‘based on peace and social justice’.

This, on the very same day that reports came in of 7 young boys, elementary school children, being arrested, beaten and tortured so horrifically by the Indonesian military that one of the boys, Makilon Tabuni, died from his injuries. The other boys were taken to hospital, seriously wounded.

The Indonesian military is deliberately targeting the young, the next generation. This, to crush our spirit and extinguish hope.

These are our children that you are torturing and killing, with impunity. Are they not ‘innocent civilians’, or are their lives just worth less?

This, on the same week that UN experts themselves have called for urgent humanitarian access and spoken of ‘shocking abuses’ against our people, including ‘child killings, disappearances, torture and mass displacement of people’.

This is the acknowledgement our people have been crying out for.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 people are currently displaced, without any support or aid. This is a humanitarian crisis. Women forced to give birth in the bush, without medical assistance. Children are malnourished and starving. And still, Indonesia does not allow international access.

Our people have been suffering this, without the eyes of the world watching, for nearly 60 years.

In response, the Indonesian Ambassador to the UN continues with total denial, with shameless lies and hypocrisy.  If there’s nothing to hide, then where is the access?

To Indonesia, I say this:

The international community is waking up and you cannot continue to hide your shameful secret any longer.

Like the Ukrainian people, you will not crush our spirit, you will not steal our hope and we will not give up our struggle for freedom.

We now demand you allow access for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for humanitarian aid to our displaced people and to international journalists.

We now demand you withdraw your military.

We now demand you release political prisoners, including Victor Yeimo and the ‘Abepura Eight’.

We now demand our right to self determination and an end to the illegal occupation of our land.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government