| Asia Pacific Report | Edited
AUCKLAND - West Papuan leader Benny Wenda has praised the bravery of Ukrainians defending their country while condemning the hypocrisy of a self-styled ‘peaceful’ Indonesia attacking innocent civilians in Papua.
“The eyes of the world are watching in horror [at] the invasion of Ukraine,” Wenda said in a statement.
But he revealed that, on the same day, Indonesia’s UN representative called the attack on Ukraine unacceptable and appealed for peace, reports emerged of schoolboys arrested and tortured by the Indonesian military in West Papua, one dying from his injuries.
Wenda also highlighted a statement by UN officials condemning shocking abuses against Papuans including “child killings, disappearances, torture and mass displacement of people”.
Indonesia’s representative to the UN, Arrmanatha Nasir, had said innocent civilians “will ultimately bear the brunt of this ongoing situation” in Ukraine.
“But what about innocent civilians in West Papua?” asked Wenda.
“At the UN, Indonesia speaks of itself as a peaceful nation committed to a world based on peace and social justice.
“This on the very same day that reports came in of seven young boys, elementary school children, being arrested, beaten and tortured so horrifically by the Indonesian military that one of the boys, 12-year old Makilon Tabuni, died from his injuries.
“The other boys were taken to hospital, seriously wounded.”
Wenda said the Indonesian military was deliberately targeting “the young, the next generation, to crush our spirit and extinguish hope.”
In the same week UN special rapporteurs had spoken of “shocking abuses against our people” and called for urgent humanitarian access.
He said this was an acknowledgement from the UN that Papuan people had been “crying out for”.
Wenda said it was a humanitarian crisis that between 60,000 and 100,000 people in West Papua are currently displaced without support or aid.
“Women forced to give birth in the bush without medical assistance. Children malnourished and starving. And still Indonesia does not allow international access,” he said.
“Our people have been suffering this for nearly 60 years without the eyes of the world watching.”
He said the international community was waking up and Indonesia could not continue to “hide your shameful secret any longer”.
“Like the Ukrainian people, you will not crush our spirit, you will not steal our hope and we will not give up our struggle for freedom,” Wenda said.
He said the West Papua liberation movement demands that Indonesia accepts Papua’s right to self-determination and ends the illegal occupation of Papua, and allows access to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to international journalists.