Herman Wainggai
The man who never quit

Indonesian Violence Against my People Continues

The International Community must Intervene 

By Herman Wainggai

Today, I am sitting in my room watching all the videos I shared on my Facebook wall and some of the photos posted by West Papua friends on their Facebook walls as well, with a tremendous concern for my people. 

Indonesian brutality continues
The Indonesian military and police brutality continues and it is worse than before. From these videos and photos, we can see the brutality of the Indonesian police – they have no regard for the safety of unarmed, harmless protesters. Recently, the Indonesian military and police have carried out assaults on non-violent activists across West Papua and other parts of Indonesia. Prior to the protest, my fellow activist, Markus Yenu, was targeted and intimidated with a poster of him posted in public places with “dead or alive” written all over them. This lethal rampage by the Indonesian military in the capital city of West Papua, Jayapura, where TNI POLRI – military, where they are doing their best to silence pro-independence protests, must be stopped. It is simply unbelievable and uncalled for. They intimidated, harassed and assaulted peaceful protesters, injuring many of them – as we could see from the pictures of these two West Papua women activists: Nope Kiwab and Berina Magai who were assaulted on the scene – including a kid 9-year old boy was arrested and released.
This has shown clearly that the oppression of the West Papuan people is still happening today and this is one of the many such brutal attacks that have occurred since Indonesia's violent takeover of West Papua in the 1960s, 'legitimized by a sham referendum called the 'Act of Free Choice' but known by West Papuans as the Act of No Choice.
Knowing the history of the Indonesian state’s Army and Police invasion of West Papua, no one is surprised by the fresh news of increased Indonesian military troops throughout West Papua. The military buildup is growing rapidly on this Melanesian ground like mushrooms on fertile grounds. They are sensing the overwhelming support for West Papuan self-determination and the are using military force to try to stop it. That is why throughout the land of West Papua citizens and activists have been holding peaceful demonstrations to continue to express their desire to be free and to request international mediation in West Papua.

International Intervention
The history of Indonesian brutality in West Papua over the past five decades is well documented and it can only be stopped by the international community, which includes the USA and Australia and their significant roles in the UN and the Asia Pacific region. The data is out there for the UN and its major actors to read and there's no justification for delay and executions. How long must we West Papuans continue to be slaughtered like animals and targeted for assassination by the Indonesian government before the international community woke up? The question is very pertinent then – what should be the role of Australia, the USA, PIF, MSG and the United Nations with regards to West Papua? 
For me, the build-up of the military throughout West Papua is an Indonesian government’s response to the West Papuan’s recent successes in the region and particularly its membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), which Indonesia sees as a serious threat. There can be no doubt that such build up is meant to crash and destroy the self-determination movement for indigenous West Papuans, even breaking the international human rights laws. 

How should we (West Papuans) respond?
Be cautioned my West Papuan leaders and people, we are facing a growing Indonesian military. This military build-up will continue as long the light at the end of the tunnel - for our right to become independent - gets bigger and bigger. But how should we respond? By taking up arms? shedding blood? I say, no. We are only inviting more deaths and grounds for justification for those deaths. All that the Indonesian government will do is calling protesters "terrorists" and the UN and its partners will agree with it. At a time when "war against terrorism" dominates world's affairs, it is not the time to invite violence. We need a commonsense response; one that centers of peace and patience. That’s what we need. We know the Indonesian military and police employ violence against those they deemed to be of serious threats to Indonesia. Thus, it is our duty to make sure that we don’t fight fire with fire, rather we must be firm in our resolve. This is a highly volatile situation and we must all be diligent in keeping the international community informed about this dangerous situation and keep our people together. Our people are depending on us to lead them the right way. Violence won’t get us anywhere, rather it will give the police and military pretext to use force against our people.
This land of the crowned pigeon (Mambruk) and the beautiful Bird of Paradise - (Cenderwasih), belongs to us. The land that we love, we must cherish our land and defend it with humility. Should we close our eyes and shut our ears to the injustices? No. We must speak up and be brave. Follow your instincts, but don't let your guards down; don't let your emotion consume you! Go to the streets and protest but don't give Indonesian police and soldiers excuses to use violence against our people. Should they choose violence, it is their duty to tell the world why they did so - let them lie to the world and to the UN why they chose to assaulted people and harmed children. I urge you to be brave, to stand up for what is right. Speak your mind and defeat them with words of reason. 

Upcoming Protests
I know our people are looking forward - with all sincerity -  to the upcoming PIF meetings in Micronesia and MSG meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu. We are hoping that these leaders will act as mediators and by standards of the International Law, help resolve the long-running political conflict between the Indonesian government and our people. This has been their lot for over 53 years – arrests, kidnapping, detention, shooting, killing, raping, long imprisonments. These cruel acts must stop and I hope, as you do, that these leaders will do the right thing. And as you take to the streets again to voice your concerns, be vigilant and brave. 

Clearly, the lives of our civil rights activists are in extreme danger, for simply practicing their rights as citizens of a democratic nation to express their anger. These universal rights include the right to gather nonviolently and the freedom of expression. So I ask the international community and in particular the United States, Australia, and Indonesia, where are the rights of indigenous people based on Democracy and its human right principles that you claim are ours as citizens of a supposed democratic country? How can a so-called Democratic country be allowed to sit in a "Human Rights Council" while murders, arresting and torturing innocent people whose crimes are - peaceful protests and raising of West Papuan flags? How isn't that a violation of the UN Charter and Human Rights laws? 

I'm not making up things I didn't experience. As a former political prisoner myself who was jailed in West Papua for organizing peaceful protests, I know what I'm talking about. I went through a difficult situation while I was in prison. I escaped in 2006 and now residing in Washington, D.C as a refugee, and from what I see today on social media, things haven't changed one bit. I am free, but other West Papuan activists are still in prison and being tortured. I'm looking forward to the day when West Papuans no longer defined by their repression and victimization, but rather by their strength, courage, and tenacity to fight for human rights and freedom.

The United Nations and the international community, and American citizens need to be informed about the human rights abuse and the genocide that is taking place in West Papua so they can challenge their government to step in and protect the rights of Melanesian people. Changes cannot come to our people without first realizing that the majority of them wanted self-determination.   
Latest victims of Indonesian Police Brutality

Berina Magai 

Nope Kiwab 

Will you (UN) hold Indonesia accountable for violating the rights of West Papuans?
What are Human Rights? 


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