United Nations ReviewsPresident Wenda: May 1st is a day of occupation and bloodshed

President Wenda: May 1st is a day of occupation and bloodshed

President Wenda: May 1st is a day of occupation and bloodshed
May 1, 2024 in Statement
Today, May 1st, will always be remembered as a day of terror for West Papuans, marking the beginning of Indonesia’s illegal occupation.
On this day in 1963, Indonesian troops invaded our land. This was the beginning of the bloodshed: over 500,000 West Papuans have been killed in the six decades since, in a hidden genocide that continues until today. Over 1000 Papuans have been killed in the last five years as a result of Indonesian military operations, which according to the UN by 2022 had displaced around 100,000 civilians.
On the sixty-first anniversary of this day of terror, West Papuans are still scared and praying for peace. The main Commander of the Indonesian military has promised a ‘new dawn‘ of ‘zero tolerance’ in order to ‘eradicate’ the OPM. We know this simply means more targeting of peaceful resistance.
Indonesia states that West Papua is an inseparable part of its sovereign state. But if that is the case, why have they deployed over 25,000 troops to West Papua since 2019? Why have they sent hundreds of thousands of poor Javanese migrants to West Papua, in a World Bank-backed settlement programme? This is not sovereignty: it is military occupation and modern-day settler colonialism.
Nothing has fundamentally changed in Indonesia’s approach to West Papua since 1963, when General Ali Moertopo said that the Papuan people should be transferred to the moon. In 2021, General Hendropriyono said that 2 million Papuans should be removed from their ancestral lands and taken to Manado, Sulawesi. Indonesia has always wanted to wipe out the indigenous population and repopulate West Papua with settlers – to turn our black skin brown, like ‘coffee with milk‘, as Megawati Sukarnoputri once put it. They do this in order to destroy our mountains, forests, and rivers with mines and Palm Oil plantations. What they call ‘development’ is simply the corporate-backed theft of our natural resources.
As we remember sixty-one years of illegal occupation, the ULMWP repeats its demand for humanitarian aid to be allowed to reach displaced communities, and for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be urgently faciliated to visit West Papua. Over 100 UN member states have now made this demand, but Indonesia still refuses the High Commissioner access. By calling for international intervention in Gaza, Indonesia is once again exposing its own double standards. West Papua is still suffering massive settlement and displacement, just like in Palestine, just like in Ukraine.
How many West Papuans must die before Indonesia allows the UN in?
Benny Wenda

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