A 17-year-old boy has become the latest victim of Indonesia’s six-decades-long colonisation of West Papua. Killed on March 6, Melianus Nayagau has been murdered in Intan Jaya, where Indonesian military operations have displaced thousands of my people.

Separately, a video has shown an Indonesian police chief in Java telling demonstrating West Papuan students that they are ‘a legitimate target’, and giving the order to ‘shoot’. This is the reality of what we face in West Papua. As the people of West Papua resist Jakarta’s re-imposition of ‘Special Autonomy’, Papuan students are being beaten by Indonesian nationalist gangs and arrested by colonial police.

The cold-blooded killing and viral video come just after the Indonesian military murdered a 36-year-old deaf disabled man, Donatus Mirip, on February 27. As I previously stated, three West Papuan men were tortured and murdered in a West Papuan hospital by Indonesian soldiers on February 15.

Late last year, West Papuan pastor Yeremia Zanambani, Catholic catechist Rufinus Tigau and other religious figures were tortured, shot and killed by troops, and three school children were executed by an Indonesian state death squad on November 20, 2020. Several soldiers were recently found to have killed two other family members of Pastor Zanambani last year, burning the bodies and throwing their ashes into a local river.

Tens of thousands of West Papuans have been displaced by these military operations since December 2018. Hundreds have died from lack of water, food and medicine, in the middle of a global pandemic. As the largest religious organisation in our nation, the West Papua Council of Churches, has stated, ‘The Land of Papua has become a Military Operation Area.’

No one can deny that this is an absolute humanitarian catastrophe, a pattern of systematic human rights abuses targeted at the Indigenous population of West Papua by the Indonesian colonial regime. This is serial, repeated murder of the young, of religious figures, of displaced women and children. We are treated with inhumanity on our own land.

Indonesia’s response to this undeniable disaster? To deploy 1,350 more highly armed troops to West Papua today, joining the thousands of additional security personnel deployed since 2019.

The Indonesian state is trying to conceal the blood that is dripping from its hands. At the UN Human Rights Council last month, the Indonesian Foreign Minister denounced ‘double standards’ and ‘politicization’ of the Council, something Indonesia has done more to promote than any other state. Whilst they take a noble stand on the Palestinian and Myanmar struggles, they lie to the world about what they are doing to their own neighbours in West Papua.

I’m calling on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay urgent attention to the situation in West Papua. This is not one-off killings and human rights violations. This is a systematic attempt to subjugate the Indigenous population, to destroy our will to resist, to eliminate our culture and way of life. But we will not give up until we win back our right to self-determination, stolen from us in the 1960s.

We need regional leaders in Melanesia and the Pacific to listen to our cry. All 83 countries that support the visit of the UN High Commissioner to West Papua must redouble efforts to ensure the visit takes place as a matter of extreme urgency, before more of my people are murdered.

As I have stated since 2019, I am ready to sit down with the Indonesian President to find a just solution to live in peace and harmony in West Papua.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government