The Indonesian government is angrily protesting Fiji’s decision to support ULMWP full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). But this same government has repeatedly stated its support for the Palestinian struggle. This is an act of grotesque hypocrisy, as we have come to expect from President Widodo. How can he support self-determination in one case and not the other? What is the difference between West Papua and Palestine? 

Indonesia claims their rule over West Papua is a done deal, but their sixty-year occupation is based on a fraud that is fast unravelling. The so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ was really an Act of No Choice. Only 1022 hand-picked West Papuans, out of a population of over 800,000, were intimidated and bribed into voting for integration into Indonesia. The United Nations may have supervised this fraud, but they did not endorse it, only taking note of its outcome. Though West Papua was added to the UN decolonisation list in preparation for our independence, Indonesia ensured it was removed after they invaded our territory in 1963. Since then, over 500,000 West Papuans have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and replaced by Indonesian settlers, we have suffered massacres in Paniai, Wamena, Wasior, Biak, Abepura, and many other places.  

Indonesia is right to support the Palestinian struggle. But while President Widodo has said he wants Palestine to become a full member of the UN, he opposes West Papua becoming a full member of the MSG. Our culture, our customs, our ethnicity, and our traditions are all Melanesian. For sixty years our voices have been silenced, our cause brushed under the carpet by the international community. Now that Melanesian leaders are standing up for their brothers and sisters in West Papua, the web of lies Indonesia has told the world about West Papua is collapsing under their own hypocrisy.  

There is overwhelming evidence that Indonesia is committing genocide, ecocide, and crimes against humanity in West Papua. In the same week that they protested Fiji’s support for full membership, Indonesian police cold-bloodedly massacred ten Papuans in Wamena, and shot a teenage boy in Puncak Jaya. Only last month, Papuans across the Nduga Regency were forced to flee their homes, adding to the nearly-50,000 who have been displaced there since 2018. When you displace villagers and tribal peoples, they lose their hunting grounds, their rivers, their whole way of life. This is all part of a longstanding strategy of ethnic cleansing, for Indonesia to remove us from our ancestral lands and replace us with mines, plantations, and Indonesian settlers. West Papuans are not safe with Indonesia: our very existence as a distinct people is under mortal threat. 

These developments show very clearly the need for international intervention in West Papua. Indonesia must stop blocking the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has been demanded by eighty-four countries. They must stop hiding their crimes from the world, and allow open access to West Papua for all international NGOs and international media.  

President Widodo, the cover up is coming to an end, and the world is paying attention. We are only calling for your commitment to Palestinian liberation to be extended to West Papua. 

Benny Wenda
ULMWP Provisional Government