In the strongest possible terms, the ULMWP condemns the Indonesian government for the arrest and brutal treatment of over 500 West Papuan people and Indonesians in solidarity, who were targeted on 1st December simply for peaceful commemorating West Papua National Day.

As Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), I call for the immediate release of all those arrested across West Papua and Indonesia, and for the Indonesian military, police and militia groups to be held immediately accountable.

As we West Papuans, together with Indonesian supporters celebrated this day, the Indonesian Security Forces and militia brutally cracked down on our peaceful assemblies, despite formal notice being given of the events. In West Papua and Indonesia, hundreds of people were arrested, and many beaten, including West Papuan women. In West Papua, offices were raided, and crackdowns took place in Port Numbay (Jayapura), Asmat, Merauke, Sorong, Timika and elsewhere. In Indonesia, crackdowns took place in Surabaya, Jakarta, Ambon, Ternate, Makassar, Manado, Kupang and Yogyakarta. In total, over 500 people were arrested and many of them continue to remain in police custody. The whereabouts of at least two activists is currently unknown,

Such horrific attacks and mass arrests are more evidence of the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua, with human rights violations, including restrictions of Freedom of Expression and of Peaceful Assembly only increasing under Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Since Widodo took power in 2014, thousands of West Papuan people have been arrested and many tortured and even killed simply for peacefully calling for West Papuan self-determination.

The West Papuan people’s fundamental right to self-determination and independence is not only enshrined under international law, it is also fundamental to the Indonesian Constitution. In its preamble, this constitution states “independence is the inalienable right of all nations, therefore, all colonialism must be abolished in this world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice;”

Therefore, the Indonesian government is in violation of their own constitution through state colonialism which is denying the nation of West Papua our right to independence. West Papuans have never stopped Indonesians from celebrating their independence day in their own country, yet the Indonesian government continues to stop we West Papuans from celebrating our own independence day in our own country. Such ongoing brutal actions of the Indonesian government call into question Indonesia’s international reputation regarding human rights, given its status as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Regarding the mass arrests of West Papuans and Indonesians, the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) showed incredible leadership and moral courage in their solidarity with our cause on 1st December. The Indonesian people themselves across their archipelago are now in the process of making history in standing up to their government’s illegal occupation of West Papua and such bravery demonstrates that this struggle is not only a West Papuan issue, but it is an issue for all human beings. For the Indonesian government to treat their own people like animals just for supporting the people of West Papua is a powerful illustration to the Indonesian people of the need for further solidarity to abolish colonialism once and for all.

Therefore, the ULMWP:

  • Demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested in West Papua and Indonesia for peacefully commemorating 1st December and calls for justice for all those affected.
  • Appeals to the officials and leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to take immediate action and investigate and condemn the Indonesian government for the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua; calling upon Indonesia to respect international law, including Freedom of Expression and of Peaceful Assembly of West Papuans.
  • Calls for a United Nations Fact-Finding Mission to immediately visit West Papua, to assess first-hand what is happening on the ground, and recommend the necessary action to be taken by the United Nations regarding the human rights situation.
  • Conveys its deepest respect to the people of West Papua who so bravely took part in peacefully commemorating our National Day and expresses confidence at the tremendous determination and resolve of the united West Papuan people.
  • Congratulates the courage of all Indonesian supporters, especially FRI-West Papua, and fully encourages them in all their advocacy to continue to campaign for West Papuan self-determination and independence.
  • Expresses our sincerest gratitude the international community and all international supporters for raising the West Papuan flag and showing solidarity with the West Papuan people on 1st December, raising significant support and awareness for our struggle.
  • Requests as an MSG member that the MSG officials and leaders review the membership of the Indonesian government within the MSG, taking into consideration the increasing levels of human rights violations being committed by the Indonesian government as a non-Melanesian state, towards the Melanesian people of West Papua.
  • Affirms that the fundamental right of the West Papuan people to self-determination and independence must be respected by the Indonesian government and the international community, through means of an independence referendum; this being the only solution for a peaceful conflict resolution in West Papua.

With respect and greetings,

Benny Wenda
Chairman of The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)