Indonesia is continuing its brutal crackdown on West Papuan protest.

In response to a peaceful demonstration held in Jayapura, police forcibly dispersed activists using water cannons, teargas, and violent beatings. Sixty-two peaceful protestors were arbitrarily arrested.

Demonstrators were protesting the brutal torture of Defianus Kogoya and murder of Warinus Kogoya by TNI officers. The former incident, as Defianus was slashed, kicked and punched by sadistic Yonif Raider soldiers, was captured on film in a video that made international headlines. As a result of the worldwide outrage, Indonesia were forced to issue a rare apology for their actions.

The fallout from the torture video clearly demonstrates three points. First, it shows that Indonesia will only account for their brutality if the world takes notice: international pressure is the only language they understand. Second, the video shows how urgently West Papua needs international investigation, through the UN visit demanded by over 100 countries. Finally, Indonesia’s brutal response to this peaceful protest shows that Indonesia’s occupation does not change. Even with the eyes of the world on them, our occupiers beat, gas, and torture us. We are not safe with Indonesia.

The treatment of Defianus reminds us that torture is a ‘mode of governance’ in West Papua. As we have seen in Jayapura, suppression of protest is another of Indonesia’s modes of governance. Another mode is media blackout: Indonesia are carrying out a hidden genocide, kept secret from the world by their six decade ban on international media. Human rights abuses like that which Defianus suffered happen everyday – for every incident that makes the news, there are hundreds that don’t.

Indonesia must immediately facilitate a visit to West Papua by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This visit has been promised since 2018, and demanded by over 100 countries, including all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS), and the European Commission. The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) last year issued their own communique demanding a visit by the next MSG meeting in mid-2024: Indonesia clearly has no intention of honouring this demand.

By continually refusing international investigation, Indonesia is making itself a global pariah. On behalf of the ULMWP and people of West Papua, I demand that Indonesia be suspended from the MSG until they cooperate with Pacific leaders and allow a UN visit. The torture and murder of Melanesians cannot go unpunished. They must also release all those arbitrarily arrested in Jayapura, along with all political prisoners detained on fake charges.

Benny Wenda