The people of West Papua need urgent international attention. I am calling on all the world’s governments, parliamentarians and media to shine the spotlight on West Papua. If the world and international media ignores West Papua now, the Indonesian security services may turn it into a bloodbath.

The UN must act. Currently, the people of West Papua are occupying the Parliament and Governor buildings in Jayapura, West Papua’s capital. Electricity and internet services have been cut off, and 300 more officers from the murderous Brimob police unit have been deployed. Footage shows tear gas being used on non-violent demonstrators and latest information suggests the Indonesian military, police and nationalist militias may be preparing to storm the peaceful gathering.

Already in Deiyai, six Papuans were shot dead on Wednesday after being tear-gassed by Indonesian police and military and at least 15 West Papuans were shot with rubber bullets in Jayapura. An 18-year-old student was shot and has not been seen since. There will be more bloodshed unless the world pays attention.

The people of West Papua are no longer afraid. They are marching in their tens of thousands, flying the Morning Star flag. For flying this banned symbol of our liberation, the coloniser will put us in prison or shoot us. The events of the past two weeks are all related: the racism, demonstrations and killings, the desire for self-determination. My people refused to celebrate Indonesian independence day on August 17, instead commemorating the 1962 New York Agreement, the beginning of the historic violation of our right to self-determination. All the while, the people and leaders of the Pacific condemned human rights abuses in West Papua and called for the UN High Commissioner to visit the region.

In Surabaya, Papuan students suffered an extreme act of racism that is part of the daily life of Papuans under colonial rule, called ‘monkeys’ and ‘pigs’ by Indonesian military and state-supported militias. This racist discrimination against my people was the spark which lit the fire of 57 years of sentiment for freedom and independence: the West Papua Uprising. The second wave of this uprising has begun, and my people will not rest until we are granted our basic right to self-determination and a referendum on independence from Indonesia.

This is an emergency situation in West Papua today and things are only getting worse and worse. We urgently need the UN to intervene. I call upon the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and all international for a to please take immediate action to help prevent further massacres. We cannot allow another Santa Cruz massacre to take place in West Papua. The world needs to know and intervene now before it is too late. The world’s media must do all they can to help cover the situation and shine an urgent light on what is really happening. This has the very real power to help save lives.

With the internet and phone lines cut off and tens of thousands of social media posts being taken down, the world must do everything it can to expose the situation. If the world stops looking, Indonesia will launch a crack-down, as it did again and again in East Timor, and in West Papua in 1969, 1977-8, 1998, 2001, 2014, and countless other occasions. Hundreds of thousands of us have died already. The lives of my people today, fighting with great courage and dignity for their freedom, depends on the world acting.

Benny Wenda

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