As President of the ULMWP, I am calling for new Indonesian President Prabowo Subianto to be arrested if he ever leaves Indonesia. Interpol must be put on alert: Prabowo is a dangerous war criminal who is complicit in genocide in both East Timor and West Papua. He has never faced justice. Ordinary people who support West Papua should also be willing to perform a citizen’s arrest if he comes to your country.

Prabowo’s crimes in East Timor are well known. As a General and leader of the notorious Kopassus unit, he helped lead massacre after massacre, from the 1983 Kraras slaughter, in which more than 300 Timorese were executed, to the killing of hundreds by his hooded ‘ninja’ killers in the 1990s.

While he is mostly known as an enthusiastic torturer and murderer of the Timorese people, Prabowo’s name also inspires terror in the hearts of West Papuans. In 1996, as commander of the feared Kopassus unit, he prevented the Red Cross from completing a planned hostage transfer following the kidnapping of eleven scientific researchers by the OPM. Instead, he tricked Kelly Kwalik, the OPM group leader, into cancelling the hostage transfer; with the complicity of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Indonesia then painted their attack helicopters as Red Cross helicopters, leading the OPM fighters into a trap – into a massacre. This led to a series of further revenge attacks on highland villages, in which many innocent Papuans were murdered.

In the years since, his family have continued bringing death and destruction to West Papua through their mining and palm oil interests. Palm oil is today one of the biggest killers in West Papua – a killer of culture, of national identity, as well as of land and people. We are suffering two interlinked crimes: genocide and ecocide, with each one fueling the other.

The last half-decade of brutality, which has killed at least 1400 Papuans and likely displaced over 100,000, has shown just how much power the military still holds in West Papua. Even under a supposed ‘reformer’ like Jokowi, my people have been subjected to daily military operations, increased checkpoints in the highlands, rape, torture, and cold-blooded murder. As Defence Minister, Prabowo has sent over 25,000 additional troops have been stationed in my country since 2018, transforming places like Nduga, Intan Jaya, and Yahukimo into deadly warzones. Our situation will only get worse under the butcher of East Timor. During his Presidential campaign, Prabowo made clear that he will pursue a ramped-up military approach.

For West Papuans, the ghost of Suharto is back. The Indonesian regime may have changed its clothes but it still depends on the power of the military.

In the 1990s, Prabowo was considered too brutal even for the blood-stained Indonesian military, having been forced out after his role in the rape and massacre of Chinese-Indonesian women and girls was uncovered. This is a man who was described by a former U.S. Ambassador as “perhaps the greatest violator of human rights in contemporary times among the Indonesian military”. As is so common in Indonesia, his career is based on corruption and nepotism: it was his marriage to Suharto’s daughter that saw him rise so quickly up the ranks of the military.

In 2000, Prabowo suffered the dishonour of being banned from the US under the UN convention against torture. But he has never repented or faced true justice for his crimes – and he has now become Indonesian President.

I want to alert the world of the disaster that is about to hit West Papua. I am calling on all our international friends, our lawyers and parliamentarians, to push for his arrest under their war crimes legislation when he enters your country.

Benny Wenda