Once again, Indonesia is creating bloodshed to justify its military operations in West Papua. This time it is happening in Kiwirok District in the Regency of the Star Mountain, on the border with PNG. Indonesian troops have arrested 22 people, including 7 children, on suspicion of being members of the West Papua Army. In fact, they are just civilians.

Indonesia has accused the West Papua Army of attacking a hospital and killing a nurse in Kiwirok. According to all the sources I have spoken to on the ground, the issue was started by an Indonesian migrant doctor threatening people with a pistol. This triggered a West Papua Army investigation. A nurse fled from the scene and fell down a slope, fatally injuring herself.

Indonesia has deployed over 21,000 new troops since December 2018, displacing tens of thousands from Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya and Sorong. These troops are not there to defend Indonesia’s ‘sovereignty’ or keep my people safe; they are there to protect illegal mining operations, to defend the palm oil plantations that are destroying our rainforest, and to help build the Trans-Papua Highway that will be used for Indonesian business – not for the people of West Papua. The Indonesian government is creating violence and chaos to feed these troops. As the head of the Indonesian parliament ordered, ‘destroy them first. We will discuss human rights matters later’. He reiterated this statement three days ago, and was backed by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud Md.

The killing of Pastor Zanambani and his two brothers is a clear example of how this works. Indonesian soldiers murdered the two brothers in April last year. Months later troops tortured and killed the Pastor. In both cases, the military blamed the West Papua Army for the attacks – but Indonesia’s own human rights commission and military courts found that Indonesian soldiers were to blame. A similar pattern will unfold with events in Kiwirok.

Indonesia must allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua to investigate these issues and produce an independent, fact-based report, in line with the call of 84 international states. Indonesia’s ban on media, human rights groups and aid agencies from entering West Papua must be immediately lifted. If Indonesia is telling the truth about these events, why continue to hide West Papua from the world?

This war will never end until President Widodo sits down with me to solve this issue. This is not about ‘development’, about how many bridges and roads are built. This is about our sovereignty, our right to self-determination, our survival.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government