On August 19, thousands of Papuans took to the streets of Manokwari and Jayapura in what would be the biggest protests in West Papua in years. These simultaneous actions called out the racism and violence against Papuans as triggered by the most recent incident of police abuse of Papuan students in East Java who were falsely accused of throwing the Indonesian flag in a sewer.
Prior to that, Papuan students were also tortured and physically assaulted with stones and chilis during a demonstration last August 15, in commemoration of the 1962 New York Agreement which failed to deliver a genuine referendum for the people of West Papua. The demonstrations ended up in the arrest of at least 168 people.
Noticeably, in these incidents, ultra-nationalist organizations were also present and were actively engaging in violent acts against the Papuan demonstrators. However, it is important to establish that these right-wing organizations, despite ironically self-identifying as people’s organizations, do not represent in any way the Indonesian peoples, but rather the Indonesian ruling classes. These are state agents who sow fear and hate against genuine social movements in the guise of Indonesian patriotism and nationalism.
The incidents in East Java are only two examples of state brutality against West Papuans; many more incidents remain unknown to outsiders, especially those that happen in West Papua, due to heavy media restrictions and censorship by the Indonesian government. Rights violations worsen with the militarization of the highlands of Papua, especially in Nduga where Indonesia is launching an all-out offensive in an effort to subjugate the West Papua Liberation Army. But even with the presence of media and humanitarian volunteers in the rural areas, the intimidation and harassment by military and paramilitary forces hinders the free dissemination of information across West Papua, much less across countries.
With this, the Merdeka West Papua Support Network calls on to the Papuan and Indonesian peoples to stand and struggle together against Indonesian oppression, privilege, and racism towards West Papua. Let our international solidarity rise above the deception and lies of the Indonesian state, and let us unite to isolate the Imperialists and their local puppets - the true perpetrators of this oppressive system. Amidst state efforts to divide and pit the oppressed peoples against each other, let us not lose sight of what and who truly oppresses us, the same ones who benefit from our disunity.
We also reiterate the following calls, which we hope the Indonesian allies and the rest of the international community will amplify in support of the ongoing protests in West Papua:
Pull-out the Indonesian National Armed Forces from West Papua;
Allow foreign and national media in West Papua, including its rural areas;
Establish an international and independent probe on human rights violations in West Papua.
Struggle together against systemic oppression and racism!
Long live international solidarity!
Deewa Dela Cruz