Reject Jakarta’s ‘divide and rule’ Papua provinces strategy, warns Wenda

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Benny Wenda Sky
Exiled Papuan leader Benny Wenda ... "we are going to peacefully continue our long struggle for freedom until the world finally hears our cry". Image: Office of Benny Wenda

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Indonesia is trying again to “divide and rule my people” by further carving Papua into three new provinces, warns interim president Benny Wenda of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP).

And he says that Jakarta is bringing in another 450 troops in to “violently enforce” its policies.

“Indonesian troops torture and stab our bodies, international corporations slice down our forests and mountains, and now the Indonesian government is trying to divide our unity,” Wenda said in a statement.

“We are not three separate regions – we are West Papuans, one people with one soul and one mission: freedom.

“The people of West Papua have rejected these proposals, part of the renewal of the 2001 ‘Special Autonomy’ legislation.

“Over 600,000 of us have signed a petition rejecting ‘Special Autonomy’. Even the head of the Papuan People’s Assembly, an institution set up by Jakarta, has rejected the sham programme.

Wenda said ‘Special Autonomy’ was “a dead end”.

‘Indonesia has failed the world’
“It is Jakarta’s wish. A referendum and full independence is our wish. Indonesia has failed the world, and failed the people of West Papua,” he said.

To enforce this renewal of Special Autonomy, even more Indonesian troops were flooding into West Papua – 450 in the last month alone.

At least 6000 new troops were sent in 2019 and more than 1000 more in 2020.

“Indonesia is turning our land into a war zone, a martial law colony with military check points on every street corner,” Wenda said.

“Civilian rule in Indonesia is a myth: the military still holds power. Retired generals experienced in genocide in East Timor continue to call the shots.

“Indonesia has done this to us many times before. In 1963, they invaded our land. They held the fraudulent Act of No Choice in 1969, against the desires of all West Papuans.

“At every turn, they have treated us like a colonised people, less than human. We are called monkeys, spat at, forced off our land.”

Papuans rejected Indonesian law
From 1 December 2020, Papuans had rejected all Indonesian law and formed the ULMWP Provisional Government.

“We are no longer bowing down to Jakarta’s rule. I call on all my people to unite and refuse all Indonesian law. We are establishing our own sovereign government,” said Wenda.

“As the legitimate representative of the people of West Papua, the provisional government is peacefully demanding the following:

1.The withdrawal of all Indonesian troops from West Papua;
2. An end to all forms of racism and discrimination against Melanesian West Papuans;
3. Immediate access to West Papua for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in accordance with the call of 83 international states;
4. Cancellation of ‘Special Autonomy’ and an immediate referendum on independence; and
5. For all international states and multinational corporations to cease any and all funding for Jakarta’s ‘Special Autonomy’.”

Wenda saidf the international community must help to force Indonesia to negotiate by withdrawing all support for the “failed ‘Special Autonomy’ project”.

“The world may be banned from seeing what is happening in West Papua. But we can see it,” Wenda said.

And we are going to peacefully continue our long struggle for freedom until the world finally hears our cry.

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