The Indonesian state is causing a renewed humanitarian crisis in occupied West Papua. A 35-year-old woman has been murdered and mutilated by the Indonesian military in Puncak Regency, and villages and churches have been emptied as thousands more soldiers have been deployed in the area. Indonesia must urgently draw back their troops to allow civilians to return home in peace.
The murdered woman, Ms Tarina Murib, was found by local residents on March 4th. She was naked and her head was cut off and missing. A number of civilians, including a baby, were also shot during the military raid. A bullet hit one-year-old Aniton Kulua in the head, while his mother Daisina Alom was shot in the shoulder.
My people are terrified and traumatised by years of military operations. Fearing more violence, many have been forced to leave their homes and flee into the bush, adding to the 60,000-100,000 West Papuans who have been displaced by Indonesian military buildup since 2018. Those displaced have largely been unable to return home due to soldiers’ continued occupation of their villages, churches, and schools. They have little access to healthcare. They cannot tend their crops or gardens. Displacement is ethnic cleansing, the gradual eradication of the West Papuan way of life. As the Indonesian occupation forces my people to flee, they exploit their ancestral lands to build mega-projects like the Trans Papua Highway and the Wabu Block gold mine.
The situation in West Papua is escalating dramatically due to Indonesia’s response to the TPNPB’s abduction of pilot Phillip Mehrtens. Indonesian troops have already massacred ten indigenous Papuan civilians in Wamena. Now, they have committed crimes against humanity in Puncak. I have stated clearly that Mr. Mehrtens must be immediately and unconditionally released, and the ULMWP are working in the background with local people to try and secure his safe return. But the world must understand that he is being used as propaganda by Indonesia to strengthen their military control over West Papua.
Tarina Murib’s brutal murder is reminiscient of the four West Papuans that were tortured, murdered, and dismembered by Indonesian soldiers last August. But Murib was not a combatant, not even a male: she was a mother. Indonesia is clearly demonstrating the brutal and racist character of their occupation.
The abduction of pilot Phillip Mehrtens has focused the attention of the international community on West Papua. They must not look away now, as we are massacred, mutilated, and displaced by Indonesia’s genocidal occupation.
ULMWP Provisional Government