PRESIDENT-ELECT of the self-styled Republic of West Papua Benny Wenda called for continued support for the cause of the freedom of his people, warning that the new year has begun with renewed Indonesian repression.
In his new year’s message, released today, he thanked those around the world who backed the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in 2020.
He said that as a result “our freedom moves closer.”
It culminated in a historic moment last December when the ULMWP declared a “provisional government in waiting” with Mr Wenda elected as interim president.
But the West Papuan leader warned that the year has started with increased oppression including the arrest of ordinary West Papuans and members of the ULMWP for supporting the formation of the government in exile.
Indonesia wants to crush the independence movement as the region’s special autonomy status expires later this year.
It favours the renewal of the legislation due to the fact that it allows minimal freedom and critics say that it entrenches rule by Jakarta.
Wenda argues that the Indonesian government wants to wipe out West Papuans, fears that were fuelled earlier this week when a former intelligence chief called for two million West Papuans to be transferred to Mindao in North Sulawesi province.
“This is nearly the entire Indigenous population — one of the clearest calls for ethnic cleansing in the history of humanity,” Mr Wenda said.
“This is the racist Indonesian mindset,” he said. “The Indonesian government’s attitude is to divide and conquer, to ethnically cleanse, to wipe out our population.
“There is no genuine development, no attempt to truly protect human life and well-being.”
The West Papuan leader said that the provisional government looks to build a sustainable future based on human rights and self-determination, but warned that the Indonesian presence in their territory was “destroying our identity, our way of life and our environment.”
In order to resolve a deadly conflict which has cost at least 500,000 lives since the Indonesian occupation began in 1969, there must be a referendum on the issue of West Papuan independence, Mr Wenda said.
He said that the UMLWP’s demands are clear: allow the UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet to visit West Papua immediately, release all political prisoners and end martial law and withdraw all Indonesian troops.