West Papuan interim president warns of an ongoing ‘humanitarian catastrophe’
NDONESIAN troops were accused today of killing a 17-year-old West Papuan boy soon after a military chief told a group of students that they were “legitimate targets” before giving the order to shoot them.
West Papuan interim president Benny Wenda, the exiled leader of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), said that Melianus Nayagau was “the latest victim of Indonesia’s six-decade-long colonisation,” accusing the occupying forces of murder.
“This is the reality of what we face in West Papua. As the people resist Jakarta’s reimposition of special autonomy status, Papuan students are being beaten by Indonesian nationalist gangs and arrested by colonial police,” he said.
West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1969 through the Act of Free Choice, in which just over 1,000 people were coerced at gunpoint into formally ratifying the occupation.
Its subsequent special autonomy status expires later this year; its reimposition is opposed by West Papuans who are demanding a referendum on independence.
The “cold-blooded killing” of the teenager in Intan Jaya came a week after the Indonesian armed forces were accused of murdering 36-year-old disabled man Donatus Mirip and the torture and killing of three West Papuan men while in hospital.
Mr Wenda warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe,” saying that tens of thousands of West Papuans have been displaced due to Indonesian military operations, with hundreds dying from lack of food, water and medicine.
The West Papua Council of Churches, the territory’s largest religious organisation, has described the peninsula as a war zone with “death squads” carrying out executions of West Papuans.
A number of religious figures have been tortured and killed by Indonesian soldiers, including Pastor Zanambani and two of his family members, whose bodies were burned and their ashes thrown into a local river.
“The Indonesian state is trying to conceal the blood that is dripping from its hands,” Mr Wenda said as he called on the UN to pay urgent attention to what is happening in West Papua.
“This is not one-off killings and occasional human rights violations. This is a systematic attempt to subjugate the indigenous population, to destroy our will to resist and to eliminate our culture and way of life.
“But we will not give up until we win back our right to self-determination, stolen from us in the 1960s,” he said.
Mr Wenda, who was elected leader of a provisional government in exile in December last year, insisted he was prepared “to sit down with the Indonesian president to find a just solution to live in peace and harmony in West Papua.”