Just days after the Republic of Vanuatu made statements on West Papua at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, armed Indonesia police have stormed Cendewasih University to shoot, beat and arrest students for peacefully calling for their right to self-determination. Indonesia is a pariah state, systematically violating human rights during the gatherings of the world’s nations.
Firstly, on behalf of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and the people of West Papua, I want to thank and congratulate the government of Vanuatu for your bravery, consistency and courage in speaking out for our struggle at the UN. Every year, you have spoken the truth in the UN whilst Indonesia has fed the international community lies. You are always on the right side of history. Even in the middle of our global crisis, you still stand firm for democracy, human rights and truth.
To the rest of the world: this is an emergency situation in West Papua. Students are being shot and beaten for peacefully holding banners calling for their rights. Yesterday (September 28) Cendewasih University was stormed by hundreds of joint Indonesian security services, including the notorious Brimob police special forces, just because Papuan students gathered to express their beliefs. Videos show shots being fired, water cannons used, and police officers with riot shields and assault rifles confronting unarmed students. Many students have fled campus in response. We do not know how many have been shot.
This reminds us of what happened in August last year, when West Papuan students were barricaded, racially abused, tear-gassed and arrested in Surabaya. We have been suffering under increasing military operations for the past two years. In Intan Jaya regency, seven church congregations have been recently displaced, adding to the dozens of churches and 40,000 civilians displaced by two years of military operations in Nduga regency. Nduga is empty now. The Indonesian military has cleansed it of Indigenous people.
The people are rejecting Jakarta’s attempts to re-impose fake ‘Special Autonomy’ on us. Special Autonomy means a pastor being killed as he tends to his farm. Special Autonomy means 20 years of losing our land and forests. Special Autonomy means 1,000 new Indonesian troops, what war criminal Indonesian Defence Minister, Prabowo, is calling ‘Special Autonomy soldiers’.
The military presence in West Papua has doubled in the last two years alone. Today’s events show how Indonesia will respond to any attempt to dissent from its colonial project in West Papua: with extreme force. Indonesia claimed in its response to Vanuatu’s statement at the UN General Assembly that there are no human rights abuses in West Papua. Their huge lies have been exposed only days later.
President Joko Widodo spoke out for the Palestinian people at the UN. The West Papuan struggle is the same as the Palestinian struggle, but President Jokowi refuses to see it. He talks of national liberation, but says nothing of the oppression in West Papua. He speaks of multilateralism whilst refusing to listen to the will of 18 countries in the Pacific Islands Forum and 79 countries in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States on West Papua. President Widodo, it is time for you to sit down with me and reach an international agreement to hold a referendum on West Papua. No more excuses.
West Papua is not a domestic issue any more. The UN High Commissioner wants to visit West Papua, but is being blocked by Jakarta. Indonesia’s cold genocide in West Papua is an international issue, and it is not going away. No matter how many of us Indonesia beats, kills or imprisons, we will continue to build our struggle until we win a referendum on independence. The emergency is going to intensify, and the world needs to pay attention.