Benny Wenda has written this statement as a condolence message after the deaths of 54 people in the Oksibil plane crash in West Papua, and the murder of West Papuan man Fredi Wenda by the Indonesian military. Both happened on 16th August (Indonesian Independence Day) which West Papuans refused to participate in.
Dear friends, supporters and fellow Papuans
It brings me such sadness to learn of the tragic deaths of so many more West Papuan people, with the plane crash on Sunday where 54 people died near Oksibil, as well as the brutal murder of Fredi Wenda who was killed in cold blood by the Indonesian military on the same day.
“Murder, tragedy and grief. This is what Indonesian Independence Day, is like for us West Papuans.”
Oksibil Plane Crash
I give my deepest condolences to the families of all those on board this plane and I feel such pain when I see the long list of innocent names on board, including 5 children. The Aviation Safety Network says that the airline the plane belonged to, Trigana Air has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, losing 10 different aircraft. This aircraft had been involved in 35 accidents since 1987 and it is on a European Union blacklist of banned carriers. Why then was this plane sent to fly into one of the most difficult terrains in West Papua?
Over the years, we Papuans have had a lot of experience with systematic neglect from the Indonesian state; from sending old, broken aircraft to West Papua to giving us expired medicines. This deprivation of working services is another example of how the Indonesian government has no real care for West Papuans at all. They say that West Papua is “part of Indonesia” but even during their own Independence Day celebrations there was barley a serious mention about the plane tragedy from the Indonesian government.
As the world turns a rare gaze towards West Papua, I am very grateful for all the sympathy given for all those affected in the Oksibil plane crash. I also hope that the international community will also look to the systematic neglect of the West Papuan people contributing to the ongoing genocide and Indonesia’s illegal occupation of the county which also continues to claim so many lives of innocent people.
Murder of Fredi Wenda
My heart was also so pained to learn of the murder of another Papuan and relative, Fredi Wenda who was tortured and then stabbed to death by members of the Indonesian military on Indonesian Independence Day. I received a message that on his way home past one of the many military checkpoints in West Papua, Fredi was called inside by soldiers. They asked him many strange questions and he refused to tell them his name. When he tried to escape, 6 of the soldiers held him and beat him up. When he finally told them his surname-Wenda, one of the soldiers stabbed him in the neck with a knife and he died.
I know that the Indonesian military is targeting my family to target me.
2 weeks ago I made a statement saying that we West Papuans will not celebrate Indonesian Independence Day because we are not Indonesian.
“The Indonesian military want to show me: I can make a statement about not celebrating Indonesian Independence day but my family, they can kill any time. That is what they do.”
Neither I nor my people will be terrorized into submission by Indonesian state brutality against us. Their horrific treatment of West Papuans on their own independence day shows the world that the Indonesian government does not care about West Papuans like they care about Indonesians. It is not us, the West Papuan people that they want, it is our land and natural resources.
Though my people always endure systematic terror and deprivation by the Indonesian government, nothing can break our spirit in our long walk to freedom.
I give my deepest condolences to all the family of Fredi Wenda too, he was a totally innocent person, murdered for being Papuan. He is one of the hundreds of thousands of innocent West Papuan men, women and children that have been systematically killed by the Indonesian government in the genocide of West Papuans.
May Fredi Wenda and all the people who suffered the Oksibil plane crash rest in peace. Their spirits will live on and remain in the hearts of the Papuan people forever as we continue to struggle and take back our ancestral land from illegal Indonesian occupation.
West Papuan independence leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)