Jayapura, Jubi – West Papuan activist Benny Wenda compared West Papua’s plight to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The Interim President of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) said that while the world looked in horror at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, West Papuans fully empathized with the Ukrainians.
“We feel their terror, we feel their pain. We offer our solidarity with these men, women, and children. We see their suffering and we cry for the loss of innocent lives, the killing of children, the bombing of their homes, and the refugees forced to flee their hometowns,” said Benny Wenda recently.
Benny Wenda said world leaders had spoken out to condemn Vladimir Putin’s actions and praised Ukraine’s courage in their resistance as they defend their families, homes, communities, and national identities. But Wenda questioned why the world had been silent for more than half a century of conflict in West Papua.
“Tens of thousands of people are currently displaced, without any support or assistance. This is a humanitarian crisis,” said Wenda. “Women are forced to give birth in the bush without medical assistance. Children are malnourished and hungry. Our people have been suffering, without the eyes of the world watching, for almost 60 years”.
Benny Wenda said Indonesia’s representative to the United Nations called the military attack in Ukraine unacceptable and called for peace. However, he claimed, on the same day Indonesia’s representative made that statement, seven children were arrested, beaten, and tortured by the Indonesian Military (TNI) in West Papua. One of the children, Makilon Tabuni, had died from his injuries.
“These are our children whom you torture and kill, and you always get impunity. Are they not ‘innocent civilians? Are their lives of less value?” he said.
Wenda said Indonesia must allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other humanitarian aid organizations and international journalists to come to West Papua.
“When the international community is aware of the West Papua issue, Indonesia cannot continue to hide its sin anymore. Like the Ukrainian people, our spirits will not be crushed. Indonesia will not steal our hopes, and we will not give up on our struggle for independence,” he said. (*)
Editor: Kristianto Galuwo