Jayapura, Jubi – ULMWP Secretary General salutes courage of the people of West Papua to advance the cause for freedom as they open an office in Wamena (West Papua) and condemns reaction of Indonesian local authorities
“The ULMWP is part and parcel of the People of West Papua. ULMWP is everywhere in Papua, in all seven of the Papuan customary regions”, said Octo Mote, Secretary General of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), as thousands of West Papuans gathered to witness and to take part in the official ceremony for the opening of the ULMWP new offices on Monday 15 February in Wamena (West Papua).
He added that the opening of the office was part of a decision taken by the ULMWP during a meeting in January. Prime Minister Sogavare of the Solomon Islands, and also chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, had welcomed this encouraging announcement stating that
“ULMWP’s presence in West Papua is strategically important,” he added it in ULMWP’s media statement received by Jubi on Wednesday (17/2/2016).
The offices are located in a building in the shape of a Honai, a circular traditional Melanesian house, symbol of unity and preservation of the identity and dignity of the different Papuan tribes in the customary area of Lapago, and in West Papua in general. According to Markus Haluk, a ULMWP official in West Papua, the official opening of these offices also come as an answer to the Indonesian claim that the ULMWP is only made up of Papuans who live outside of West Papua. He continued by saying that “ULMWP is the People of West Papua, it is the People of West Papua itself”.
However, the next day, the organizers were summoned by the local authorities backed by the Indonesian military and police. According to them, the ceremony had not been authorized or reported properly and clarification was necessary. They subsequently demanded that the ULMWP plate in front of the building be removed. The Indonesian Police Chief explained that their main worry was the display of symbols or slogans of banned organizations “that are not in accordance with the principles of Pancasila [the Indonesian State philosophy], or its vision and mission, and which go against the Unitary State of Indonesia”.
Markus Haluk, one of the ULMWP officials who had attended the ceremony the day before confirmed that the plate had been removed by the local police. However, he said that this incident will not stop the activities of the ULMWP. “It’s just a sign and a pole. But our traditional Honaiis still there. ULMWP will not stop,” said Markus Haluk.
Secretary General Octo Mote said he was disturbed by the local Indonesian authorities’ reaction towards the new office in Wamena. Another ULMWP office had been the target of Indonesian harassment in July last year, when three ULMWP local representatives for the West Papuan region of Fakfak faced charges regarding the ULMWP local secretariat in Fakfak. It was also explained at the time that the Indonesian authorities considered the ULMWP as an illegal organization: members, supporters, followers, official representatives of the ULMWP or anyone involved with the work of the organization are considered guilty of Makar (rebellion), under Articles 106 and 110 (crimes against the security of the state) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code.
In Fakfak, the three executives had also been charged under Article 510 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code for causing public unrest. Secretary General Octo Mote stated that it was disappointing that the Indonesian system was still using laws directly inherited from the Dutch colonial era, to enable police and government officials to disrupt ceremonies and meetings, and violate the West Papuans’ right to freedom of expression and their right to gather peacefully.
Secretary General Octo Mote salutes the courage of the People of West Papua as he knows that other ULMWP offices will make their appearance in other towns of West Papua. West Papuans are willing to take the risk to peacefully defy the occupation of Indonesia since 1963, a colonial occupation which has perpetrated heinous crimes against humanity in West Papua, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, rape of Papuan women and girls and torture, which is common practice in West Papua. In the great majority of reported cases, racial discrimination played a major role as members of the security forces believe they are racially superior to indigenous Papuans.
Victor Yeimo, an ULMWP official in West Papua, said the “ULMWP co-ordinates the resistance movement in West Papua and pushes all it components to not give up and to raise continuously the issue of human rights”.
According to Yeimo whose organization is also part of the ULMWP, various cases of human rights violations will be brought to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council next month. He also referred to the request put forward by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to the Indonesian Government , to send a fact finding mission to West Papua.
Secretary General Octo Mote emphasized that the people of West Papua are not alone in their plight for freedom as international support and recognition is growing in the region and around the world. The ULMWP was accepted last year as an observer in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Indonesia, who is an associate member of the MSG can no longer ignore the legality of the aspiration of the people of West Papua for freedom. (Victor Mambor)