by Benny Wenda

Benny Wenda

As chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), I hereby call upon Indonesian President Joko Widodo to immediately withdraw all Indonesian military personnel from West Papua.

The world is currently witnessing the escalating crisis in the Nduga region as just one example of the deteriorating human rights situation in West Papua. It is time for the Indonesian president to show real leadership and genuine concern for human rights by withdrawing the Indonesian military from all corners of West Papua, a country under illegal Indonesian occupation.

This human rights emergency is reaching a critical level, with over 500,000 men, women and children having already been killed in what experts have described as a genocide. Under illegal Indonesian occupation, West Papua has become the most militarized country in the Pacific.

The latest victims of this genocide are innocent West Papuan villagers, killed in Indonesian military attacks in Nduga earlier this month, which have left over 1,500 West Papuans fleeing into the jungle as internally displaced refugees.

Enough is enough. From the 1960s until today, the presence of Indonesian military personnel in West Papua is and always has been illegal. The responsibility is now with the Indonesian president to do the right thing and withdraw all his troops from West Papua in order for a genuine peace process to start.

As chairman of the ULMWP, I also call upon Indonesian President Joko Widodo to immediately begin discussions around implementing a referendum in West Papua, as the only means of ensuring a peaceful conflict resolution in West Papua. West Papua is not an internal or domestic issue for Indonesia but it is increasingly becoming recognized as an international issue.

The responsibility is now with the Indonesian president to do the right thing and withdraw all his troops from West Papua in order for a genuine peace process to start.

The truth and reality of West Papua and the history of how we were illegally and fraudulently occupied by Indonesia cannot simply remain hidden from the eyes of the world anymore.

Now is the time for true maturity to be shown and for a referendum to be discussed. If President Joko Widodo truly believes in democratic principles, he will allow the people of West Papua to democratically decide our own fate in accordance with our fundamental right to self-determination.

It is becoming increasingly obvious to all parties and in the eyes of the international community that the only legitimate way to address the long-standing grievances and successfully end the conflict in West Papua is for the Indonesian government to agree with the ULMWP to hold this referendum as an internationally supervised vote on the future of West Papua.

As the internationally recognized representative body for the West Papuan people, the ULMWP is committed to entirely peaceful efforts in ensuring a lasting peaceful solution for the crisis in West Papua. It is now time for the Indonesian government to show maturity too and to agree to also work towards the same, genuine solution.

West Papuans, who take pride in their African roots, constantly protest the Indonesian government’s genocide of a half million of their people. Those who paint their bodies with the West Papuan “Morning Star” flag that symbolizes independence are risking their lives; many have been killed for displaying it.

As chairman of the ULMWP I also call for a United Nations Human Rights Fact-Finding Mission to be sent to West Papua, to investigate the state of human rights and to help to identify key recommendations in addressing the situation. All relevant Indonesian state actors must work with the relevant U.N. officials with this visit and must not to obstruct or in any way hinder their vital mission.

The message from the people of West Papua is clear: Time is running out, we need immediate international intervention. At least three villages have already been emptied by Indonesian military attacks in the last few days and hundreds of displaced West Papuan people are now facing severe difficulties, unable to go to their gardens to get food.

The message from the people of West Papua is clear: Time is running out, we need immediate international intervention.

With Indonesia’s foreign media ban on West Papua still in place, the need for international investigation and exposure becomes all the more crucial. With an escalation in extrajudicial killings, it is all the more concerning that the Indonesian government continues to block international efforts to document what is really happening in West Papua.

This is a highly serious situation. The ULMWP urges President Joko Widodo to consider the trauma, pain and suffering of all those affected, not only in Nduga but across West Papua. Under Indonesian occupation, West Papuans live their whole lives in trauma and die in trauma. The situation is going from bad to worse.

Therefore, in summary, on behalf of the ULMWP I call upon the Indonesian President to:

  • Immediately withdraw all Indonesian military personnel from West Papua in order to start the process towards peace in the country.
  • Immediately agree with the ULMWP in implementing a referendum process as a means of addressing the root cause of the conflict, fulfilling the United Nations’ requirement of a peaceful conflict resolution in West Papua which addresses our right to self-determination.

I also call upon the United Nations to

  • Organize a Human Rights Fact-Finding Mission to be sent to West Papua to investigate and document the human rights situation and to make key recommendations for all parties in addressing human rights in West Papua.

In West Papua, time is running out. Immediate action must be taken to ensure the future survival of the West Papuan people and the respect for our fundamental right to self-determination.

Benny Wenda

Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)

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