Philippine-based organizations hold solidarity action for West Papua
Deewa Dela Cruz
Merdeka West Papua Support Network, firstname.lastname@example.org
FILIPINO, INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS HOLD PROTEST IN INDONESIA EMBASSY TO FREE WEST PAPUA
Manila, Philippines – Local and international progressive groups held a protest action in front of the Indonesian Embassy in the Philippines on December 3 to call for the independence of #WestPapua, currently occupied by Indonesia. The groups also condemned the Indonesian government for the human rights violations, militarization and environmental destruction in the occupied nation. Led by Merdeka West Papua Support Network, International lndigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), progressive groups carried “Free West Papua” calls and West Papua’s Morning Star flag during the solidarity action.
“We raise the Morning Star in the Philippines to express our support to West Papua’s struggle for self-determination and to call for justice for the victims of extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, threats and harassments by the police, military, and paramilitary in West Papua. While here we experience de-facto Martial Law nationwide with the attacks against critics of the Duterte Administration, West Papuans too have been under a de-facto Martial Law for more than five decades,” said Deewa Dela Cruz, secretariat coordinator of the Merdeka West Papua Support Network.
In Indonesia, raising the Morning Star is considered a subversive act that is penalized with at least 15 years of imprisonment. It was in December 1, 1961 when the Morning Star flag was first raised in West Papua marking its independence from Netherlands. But immediately after, Indonesia launched an aggressive military operation in West Papua and eventually annexed the nation through a sham referendum in 1969.
“The Papuan’s right to self-determination is undermined by Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua as they continue to live in fear and are forcibly displaced from their territories, while Indonesian and foreign-owned businesses, especially in the mining and plantation industries, are the ones benefitting from the rich resources of their lands. These scenarios are not far from what our Indigenous Lumad, Igorot, Aeta, and Dumagat experience,” said Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International IPMSDL.
More State military and paramilitary forces are deployed by thousands in West Papua, which to begin with is already the most militarized region in Indonesia. Reports have linked this to the high number of human rights abuses in West Papua due to attacks on expressions of dissent, including protests against the Grasberg mine owned by US company Freeport. The Grasberg mine is the largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine in the world that the open pit is visible from outer space.
“A few days ago, Filipinos commemorated the birth of anti-colonial hero Andres Bonifacio. We also honor his legacy by continuing the fight against all forms of colonization here and abroad. Thus our call to all peace and democracy-loving Filipinos and even to progressive officials in our government, to stand with West Papua,” said Elmer Labog, Chairperson of ILPS Philippines.
Last September, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet expressed concern over human rights violations in West Papua after the protests of tens of thousands of Papuans sparked by Indonesian police’s racist remarks to Papuan students. Instead of addressing the Papuans’ appeals, their protests were met by fascist Indonesian State resulting to hundreds killed, injured, and arrested in Wamena, Jayapura, Manokwari, and other centers of protest. Up to this day, Indonesian security forces responsible for the violence have not been held accountable. International media, independent investigation teams, and humanitarian aid are yet to enter communities affected by bombing and heavy militarization due to strict access imposed by the government.
“Seven days from now, the world will commemorate the International Human Rights Day. This is not only about individual rights but of communities and nations, especially those constantly engaged in a battle against repressive regime. Every time someone’s rights are not recognized, whether Filipino, West Papuan or other oppressed nationalities, everyone’s right is compromised,” said Liza Maza, Secretary General of ILPS.#
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