On the Violent Protest Dispersals in Jayapura and Wamena
Updated: Sep 26, 2019
The Merdeka West Papua Support Network strongly condemns the Indonesian security forces’ massacre of Papuan students in Wamena and Jayapura last Monday which claimed the lives of at least 20 individuals.
On September 23, 2019, hundreds of students in Wamena protested the alleged use of racist slurs of a high school teacher towards a student. On the same day in Jayapura, student activists assembled at the grounds of the University of Cenderawasih in a solidarity action for Papuan students returning to the region due to safety fears (exodus).
Indonesian security forces brutally opened fire on the mass actions in both places in an attempt to disperse them. Witnesses also reported the use of teargas and the participation of armed militias in the violent dispersal. As of September 24, Tuesday morning, the death toll is at 16 civilians in Wamena, and 3 students and 1 police officer in Jayapura. Dozens more were injured while hundreds of students were arrested for questioning.
Security officers justified the violent dispersal by stating that the protest in Jayapura was disrupting university operations while the protest in Wamena were fueled by hoaxes that were being spread on social media, and even went on again to blame Papuan independence movements, United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) as the ones behind the violence. Instead of addressing the main drivers of unrest in the occupied nation, the Indonesian state just responds with the most ridiculous lies and excuses to deny the Papuan people their right to self-determination while continuing to vilify and aggressively pacify all forms of dissent.
The additional deployment of thousands of military and police personnel in West Papua was Jakarta’s response to the unrest in the region which escalated mid-August after Papuan students in East Java were maltreated by state forces, including members of some militia groups. The intensified militarization of West Papua has led to numerous rights violations, including massacres, torture, and arbitrary arrests, in addition to the displacement of Indigenous communities already being caused by the Indonesian army’s counter-insurgency operations in the highlands of Papua - all of which contributing to the systematic genocide of the Papuan people.
We demand justice for the victims of the massacre and echo the call for a UN intervention on the humanitarian crisis in West Papua. We invite the international community to stand in solidarity with West Papua and to challenge the Indonesian Government to uphold human rights and genuinely recognize West Papua’s right to self-determination.
Justice for the victims of the massacre!
Pull-out Indonesian troops from West Papua! End Indonesian colonization of West Papua!
Uphold West Papua’s right to self-determination!