Wenda accuses Indonesia of more human rights atrocities in Papua

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A burnt out Papuan home in Puncak regency
A burnt out Papuan home in Puncak regency . . . the Indonesian military has been accused of setting homes alight and torturing villagers. Image: ULMWP

Asia Pacific Report

A West Papuan pro-independence leader has accused Indonesia of new human rights atrocities this week while the republic has apparently elected a new president with a past record of violations in Timor-Leste and West Papua.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has declared victory in the presidential election on Wednesday after unofficial vote counts showed him with a significant lead over his rivals, reports Al Jazeera.

The 72-year-old former Kopassus special forces commander, who had run unsuccessfully for president twice before, was given a dishonourable discharge in 1998 after claims that his force kidnapped and tortured political opponents of Soeharto as his regime crumbled.

Former Kopassus general Prabowo Subianto
Former Kopassus general Prabowo Subianto … declared victory in Indonesia’s presidential election this week after unofficial polls gave him at least 57 percent of the vote. Image: Politik

He has also been accused of human rights abuses in East Timor, which won independence from Indonesia amid the collapse of the Soeharto regime, and also in West West Papua.

On the day that Indonesia went to the polls — Valentine’s Day, February 14 — Benny Wenda, president of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), accused Jakarta’s military of continuing its “reign of terror” in rural West Papua.

“The latest tragedy they have inflicted on my people occurred in the Puncak regency,” Wenda said in a statement.

Military raids on the February 3 and 4 devastated a number of highland villages.

‘Villagers tortured, houses burnt’
“Numerous houses were burnt to the ground, villagers were tortured, and at least one Papuan died from his wounds — though Indonesian control of information makes it difficult to know whether others were also killed.”

Wenda said that “as always”, the military had claimed the victims were TPNPB resistance fighters — “a grotesque lie, immediately denied by the villagers and their relatives”.

Wenda also accused Indonesia of “hypocrisy” over Israel’s war on Gaza.

“We have complete sympathy with [Palestinians over their suffering] in what is happening in Gaza,” he said.

“But Indonesian hypocrisy on Palestine cannot be ignored. They are bringing a legal case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about Israel’s occupation of Palestine while intensifying their own brutal and bloody military occupation of West Papua.

“They are supporting South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ while conducting their own genocide in West Papua.

Denying West Papuan rights
“They are crying about Palestinians’ right to self-determination while continuing to deny West Papuans that same right.”

More than 500,000 West Papuans have been killed since the occupation began in 1963, says the ULMWP.

In the past six years, more than 100,000 Papuans were estimated to have been displaced, made refugees in their own land as a result of Indonesian military operations.

“Genocide, ecocide, and ethnic cleansing — West Papuans are victims of all three. The world must pay attention to our plight.”

There were no reports of reaction from the Jakarta authorities.

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