Activists call for peaceful remembering of 1998 Biak massacre in West Papua


“We Have Come To Testify” … survivors give evidence about the 1998 Biak massacre at a “citizens’ tribunal” hearing hosted by the Centre for Peace Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Video: Wantok Musik

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Today — July 6 — marks 23 years since the Indonesian security forces massacred scores of people in Biak, West Papua.

The victims included women and children who had gathered for a peaceful rally.

They were killed at the base of a water tower flying the Morning Star flag of West Papuan independence. Other Papuans were rounded up and later taken out to sea where they were thrown off naval ships and drowned.

No Indonesian security force member has been charged or brought to justice for the human rights abuses committed against peaceful demonstrators.

According to the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham Papua), eight people died, three went missing, four were severely wounded, 33 mildly injured, and 150 people were arrested and persecuted during the Biak massacre.

The report also said 32 bodies were found in Biak water at that time (Tabloid Jubi, July 5 2021)

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) said: “it is tragic that 23 years after the Biak massacre, the West Papuan people continue to be arrested, intimated and killed by the security forces and in fact the situation in West Papua continues to deteriorate with ongoing clashes between the security forces and the OPM.

“It was also reported that a commemoration will be held on the 6th in West Papua.

“Hopefully, the security forces will allow the West Papuan people to commemorate the tragedy of Biak peacefully without interference.”

Komnas HAM Papua head Frits Ramandey said: “I have been contacted by those who will commemorate the Biak massacre [in a rally] on July 6. We demand relevant parties [especially the security forces] to facilitate them.”

Ramandey appealed to Jubi in a phone call on Sunday: “Let the Papuans remember the Biak Massacre.”

  • On 2 July 1998, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on top of a water tower near the harbour in Biak. Activists and local people gathered beneath it singing songs and holding traditional dances for four days in a demand for a self-determination referendum. As the rally continued, many more people in the area joined in with numbers reaching up to 500 people. On July 6, the Indonesian security forces attacked the demonstrators, massacring scores of people.
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