Indonesian Games ‘held on bones of Papuans’, accuses Benny Wenda

Papuans arrested and blindfolded in an Indonesian military crackdown in Maybrat Sept 2021
Papuans arrested and blindfolded in an Indonesian military crackdown in Maybrat last month. Image: ULMWP

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

The interim president of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) has accused Indonesia of holding its 20th National Games “on the bones of my people”.

“While we mourn for three years of Indonesian military operations, these games are a dance on top of our graves, on top of our suffering, on top of our cries,” Benny Wenda said today in a statement.

“I call on my people to ignore these games and focus on liberating us from this tyranny.”

The two-week Papuan Games (PON XX), centred mainly on the new Lukas Enembe Stadium complex in Jayapura, were opened on Saturday by President Joko Widodo.

Wenda said that the ULMWP had gathered new information that in the past three years at least 26 local West Papuan political figures and 20 intellectual and religious leaders had died in suspicious circumstances after speaking out about human rights and injustice.

“Some of them were official heads of their local districts, others were prominent church people,” said Wenda in the statement.

“Many turned up dead in hotel rooms after unexplained heart attacks, usually with no forensic evidence available.

‘Systematic killing’
“This is systematic killing, part of Jakarta’s plan to wipe out all resistance to its rule in West Papua.

“These deaths have occurred at the same time that Indonesia has sent more than 20,000 new troops into West Papua. They are killing us because we are different, because we are Black.”

Wenda said that while President Widodo visited “my land like a tourist”, more than 50,000 people had been internally displaced by Indonesian military operations in Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak and Sorong since December 2018.

Lukas Enembe Stadium
The Lukas Enembe Stadium and the Papuan National Games complex. Image: Tribun News

“High school children and elders were recently arrested and blindfolded like animals in Maybrat. The PON XX is a PR exercise by the Indonesian government to cover up the evidence of mass killings,” Wenda said.

“Any use of the Morning Star flag, or even its colours, has been totally banned during the games. One Papuan Catholic preacher was arrested for wearing a Morning Star [independence] flag t-shirt during a football match.

“Our Papuan rowing team was banned from the games for wearing red, white and blue, the colours of our flag.

“This has happened at the same time as 17 people were arrested for holding the Morning Star in Jakarta. A West Papuan woman was sexually assaulted by police during the arrests.

Papuan Games a ‘PR stunt’
“Indonesia continues to hold this PR stunt even while Vanuatu and PNG call for a UN visit to West Papua in line with the call of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.”

President Joko Widodo
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who officially inaugurated the National Games last Saturday, buys nokens – traditional Papuan woven bags – from a craftswoman in Jayapura. Image: President Widodo’s FB page

Wenda said there was no reason Indonesia could not allow the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take place.

He asked that if Indonesia wanted to use the covid-19 crisis as an excuse to stop the visit, why was the Jakarta government sending tens of thousands of troops into West Papua.

“Why are they holding the National Games in the middle of military operations and a pandemic?” Wenda asked.

“President Widodo, do not ignore my call to find the peaceful solution that is good for your people and my people.”

The ULMWP repeated its call to “sit down to arrange a peaceful referendum, to uphold the principle of self-determination enshrined by the international community”, Wenda said.

“You cannot pretend that nothing is happening in West Papua. The world is beginning to watch.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email