Sonnet 26 - Baptising ourselves in tears and mud
Is the West Papuan freedom movement doomed to fail?

Dear UN.... re West Papua....

West-Papua-22-mass-grave-by-Indonesian-troopsWARDLEY BARRY

How much more blood must we spill?
Do you want an ocean?

How many more lives must we lose?
Can you count the stars?

How many more men must be tortured?
Is animal cruelty more grave than genocide?

How many more women must be raped
and babies forced into their wombs only to be ripped out?
Have we not been violated since birth?

How many more children must be orphaned?
Is a cat more deserving of a home than my child?

How many more tears must we cry?
Have not our rivers been flooded?

How many more prayers must we offer?
Are they not our sighs that rise when it rains?

How many more petitions must we sign?
Are not our butchered limbs enough?

How much higher must we pile our dead bodies
for you to take notice of our plight?
Soon we will all die and no one will be left
to collect our corpses or sign this off


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Daniel Kumbon

Who will write poems for West Papua?

This question came across my mind when I read the poignant poems in a book I picked up the other day at our only secondhand bookshop here in Wabag in Enga Province.

A few lines from one of the poems in a book published in 1996 entitled ‘Poems for Bosnia' by Rosemary Menzies of New Zealand.

…And who will go near
to the mothers weeping alone
at the mounds of dirt
their fists fumbling with flowers
for the unburdening of the bones
the fervour of prayers
for the never again

‘Who can take from this woman
her nightmare,
the butcher’s knife
the sharpening of the blade,
her daughter’s head
sliced to the ground.
How will she ever
unclasp the little hand,
recover her eyes
from the abyss
where bodies drown

How can she forget
the tiger’s teeth lying
in the vagina of her life
When the black beast’s
eye lids close, the jaws relax,
she will stay locked inside
the jungle of her despair

O the silence of her silence
the loathed invasion of her flesh
time after time after time
until the semen took root
inside her womb
this hideous binding
the enemy planted in her blood
this nine month nausea
in the marrow of her soul

In mid-1994, Rosemary Menzies was among over 100 women from 13 different countries who travelled by road to Bosnia and Croatia to support women trapped in besieged cities following the Bosnian war that lasted from 1992 to 1995. Their trip was made possible by an International Peace initiative.

Rosemary and the other women stayed with Bosnian woman in their damaged homes and saw at firsthand the fear-filled and tragic circumstances of their lives – the results of killing, torture, destruction and rape during the war.

She published her book of poems in 1996 based on all that she witnessed.

According to Wikipedia, the Bosnian genocide refers to either genocide at Srebrenica and Žepa committed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 or the wider ethnic cleansing campaign throughout areas controlled by the Army of Republika Srpska.

The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosniak ("Bosnian Muslim") men and boys, as well as the mass expulsion of another 25,000–30,000 Bosniak civilians, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, committed by units of the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić.

The ethnic cleansing campaign that took place throughout areas controlled by the Bosnian Serbs targeted Muslim Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats.

The ethnic cleansing campaign included unlawful confinement, murder, rape, sexual assault, torture, beating, robbery, and inhumane treatment of civilians; the targeting of political leaders, intellectuals, and professionals; the unlawful deportation and transfer of civilians; the unlawful shelling of civilians; the unlawful appropriation and plunder of real and personal property; the destruction of homes and businesses; and the destruction of places of worship.

There was international outcry including the UN and US Congress passing resolutions.

On 24 March 2016, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić and the first president of the Republika Srpska, was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes, and crimes against humanity—10 of the 11 charges in total—and sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment.

Will the genocide and prolonged suffering of Melanesians in West Papua and Papua ever stop?

Will those responsible be ever taken to an international court of law?

One more line from Rosemary’s poem continues….

How do we redefine terror
in the law courts
of the fled forest
forgive or condemn
in this dark mirror
the slaughter
whom do we pronounce accountable
with fair voice
and steady tongue

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