West Papua needs urgent Red Cross intervention over crisis, says Wenda

Janus Bagau
A Catholic priest from Bilogai parish, Father Yustinus Rahangiar, and several civil servants in Intan Jaya, accompany local residents to take wounded Janius Bagau (lying on the stretcher) to the community health center. Image: Suara Papua.

Asia Pacific Report

The Indonesian state is causing a renewed humanitarian crisis in West Papua. Three young West Papuan men have been murdered by the Indonesian military in Intan Jaya Regency, and hundreds of residents have now fled the area in fear.

Indonesia must urgently allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua, says the leader of a “provisional” Papuan government.

The authorities in Jakarta have been blamed for “causing a renewed humanitarian crisis”.

Benny Wenda, interim president of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua provisional government, said in a statement that three young Papuan men had been murdered by the Indonesian military in Intan Jaya regency.

Hundreds of residents had now “fled the area in fear”.

Wenda also called on Pacific nations to pay close attention to what was happening in West Papua.

The three men, Janius Bagau were, Justinus Bagau and Soni Bagau, were alleged to have been tortured and killed on February 15 in a health centre where one of them was receiving treatment after being shot in the arm by a soldier.

Amnesty statement of concern
Amnesty Indonesia has issued an urgent statement of concern over the killings.

“Fearing more acts of violence, at least 600 men, women and children have been displaced by the military’s actions, seeking shelter in a Catholic compound,” said the statement.

“They join over 50,000 West Papuans internally displaced by Indonesian operations since December 2018. Over 400 have died from a lack of medical treatment and supplies. Indonesia is ethnically cleansing my people.”

Wenda said that people displaced by the operations would have no access to healthcare.

“They cannot tend to their crops. The children cannot go to school. In the middle of a pandemic, Indonesia continues to kill us West Papuans and force us from our homes by our thousands.

“The Indonesian state has imposed martial law, using the covid-19 crisis as a cover to conduct military operations.

“As the West Papua Council of Churches, the four Protestant denominations in our nation, put it in a statement on February 5, ‘The Land of Papua has become a military operation area’.

International monitoring
The ULMWP provisional government demanded that Indonesia immediately allow the international community into West Papua to assist civilians affected by military operations. It said:

  • Indonesia must allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua to conduct an investigation into the human rights situation, in accordance with the call of 83 international states; and
  • Indonesia must invite the International Committee of the Red Cross into West Papua. The Red Cross was banned from entering in 2009.

“Regional leaders must pay attention to what is taking place in West Papua,” said Wenda.

“Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands Forum: Indonesia is hiding behind claims of ‘sovereignty’ to crush my people.

“This is not an ‘internal matter’, this is a question of military occupation and colonialism.

“Our right to self-determination under international law is bullet-proof. Indonesia has lost the moral, political and legal argument, and has turned to the last thing it has left: brute violence.

“We need urgent action to protect my people.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email