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Issue #1888      October 2, 2019

West Papua

Call on UN to step in and stop bloodshed

West Papuan independence campaigners issued an urgent call last week for international bodies to step in and prevent further massacres after a week of bloodshed in the occupied Pacific nation. United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leader Benny Wenda warned that 2019 was becoming the worst year of violence in nearly six decades of illegal Indonesian occupation after at least 27 were killed during protests.

He appealed for the UN to intervene as a matter of urgency and put a stop to the killings.

Wenda told the Star: “This year marks a new phase of Indonesian state brutality against the people of West Papua. Indonesia has aimed for the total elimination of our peaceful struggle for self-determination, and is imprisoning and killing our children, high school teenagers and university students to do it.”

West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1969, following the so-called Act of Free Choice. This saw just 1,022 handpicked residents allowed to vote in favour of the move, many doing so at gunpoint.

Violence has intensified since the latest “uprising” which Benny Wenda said began after a seven-year-old child was arrested by Indonesian police in August. He spoke of “colonial racism” with West Papuans attacked by Indonesian forces who have routinely opened fire on peaceful protesters.

Late last month at least 27 were shot dead by nationalist militias who attacked a convoy of students who were being transported by Indonesian security services.

“Indonesia is criminalising, attacking and killing the children of West Papua in order to maintain its brutal occupation of our land,” he said, warning that the region was becoming “the next East Timor.”

Thousands were slaughtered there by Indonesian forces during their struggle for independence, which was finally achieved in 2002.

“The 16,000 additional Indonesian troops deployed to my homeland are not there to protect my people – they are there to use violence, harassment and intimidation to maintain Indonesian control over the territory.

“West Papuans are risking their lives just to utter the words ‘referendum,’ ‘self-determination’ and ‘independence,’ words of freedom,” Wenda told the Star.

“I’m calling on [Indonesian president] Widodo to allow the UN high commissioner in. The time for this visit it now: no more delays. The crisis is taking place as you read this.”

But he said: “Our victory will come; justice will prevail. Let us unite to fight peacefully for freedom and liberation for all, including the many West Papuan generations to come.”

Morning Star

Next article – Broken laws, broken people

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