The Indonesian police and military cannot justify their presence in West Papua

Press Release – Statement – For Immediate Release

As the New Year dawns and the suffering people of West Papua look to the future with renewed hope for liberation, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo set his feet down in West Papua in an attempt to legitimise the continued Indonesian military occupation of the country. Neither he nor the Indonesian police or military are welcome in West Papua as we West Papuans know that they are only there to continue to oppress us and exploit our natural resources.

The Indonesian government is doing all they can to try and draw attention away from the increasing human rights abuses in occupied West Papua. They do not want the world to find out about the ongoing genocide which has resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 West Papuan people. Such brutal killings have continued unabated ever since Indonesia illegally annexed West Papua in what we West Papuans refer to as the Act of NO Choice in 1969.

As part of this attention shifting, earlier this week the Head of the Indonesian Police, Badrodin Haiti childishly blamed myself for the recent deaths of 3 Indonesian policemen in West Papua which obviously I had nothing to do with whatsoever. I completely refute the ridiculous allegation which is just the latest in the surge of outright lies and propaganda being spread by the Indonesian government in an attempt to direct the blame for violence in West Papua away from the perpetrators.

West Papuan activist being arrested by Indonesian riot police

The Indonesian police know very well that not only do I live 9000 miles away in exile in the United Kingdom, but also that I am an entirely peaceful Independence Leader.
As a peaceful leader and a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, I have always advocated an entirely peaceful solution for West Papua whereby all West Papuans will be able to peacefully fulfil our fundamental right to self-determination through an Independence referendum.

Despite these facts, the Indonesian Head of the Police, Badrodin Haiti alleges that “Benny Wenda’s group” was directly response for the deaths of these Indonesian police officers, even though he knows that I have never taken part in any violence whatsoever and I do not control any group which does.

I seriously doubt that the Indonesian Police Chief genuinely believes that I am responsible for the deaths of these policemen but if he does then he is seriously deluded. I suggest he checks the real facts and gets properly educated. This finger pointing attitude is so unprofessional for a Police Chief it is almost laughable. He should be deeply ashamed for deliberately scapegoating peaceful leaders while his own police officers get away with impunity after killing West Papuan people in cold blood.

Armed Indonesian police arresting and brutalising Papuans

The Indonesian military and police have had a long history of trying to draw attention away from their human rights atrocities and this latest allegation is just the same old story being repeated over and over again. I remember clearly how the Indonesian government tried to silence the campaign by imposing an Interpol “Red Notice” on me in 2011 which was later dropped by Interpol themselves who deemed it “predominately political in nature”.

Why is it that after more than one year the Indonesian authorities are still unable to find any perpetrators of the massacre of West Papuan schoolchildren in Paniai, yet within 24 hours they immediately placed the blame on myself for deaths of Indonesian policemen?

Time and time again, West Papuans are massacred by the Indonesian authorities but the perpetrators never face justice.

Has there been any justice after the Paniai massacre? No.

Has there been any justice after the 2 West Papuan boys were shot in Timika on 28th September? No.

Has there been any justice after the 4 West Papuans were shot and tortured to death in Yapen on 1st December? No.

The list goes on and on.

Papuan lives do not matter to the Indonesian government but when Indonesian authorities die, West Papuans are blamed immediately. In fact, in retaliation 50 Indonesian military and police personnel have already been dispatched to the area where these 3 Indonesian policemen were reported dead.

On top of being blamed by the Head of the Indonesian Police, I was also been threatened by the Indonesian Intelligence Agency (BIN). According to CNN, the Indonesian Intelligence Agency declared it will implement a “soft approach” against Benny Wenda but “if he refuses to cooperate” then “another method is prepared”. They said ‘this method is secret and cannot be disclosed.’

I know that these threats are meant to scare me but I refuse to be intimidated by the Indonesian authorities who occupy my country, kill my people and then try to force me to “cooperate” with their schemes.

Indonesian police burn houses and arrest and torture innocent Papuans in Timika, West Papua3

After being arrested and tortured in West Papua for peacefully leading my people, I escaped and was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2003 where I now reside in exile.

What sort of methods is the Indonesian Intelligence Agency going to impose on me to try and force me to “cooperate”?

Is the Indonesian Government threatening to interfere with British law and prosecute me on false charges once again? Or will this “other method” involve sending Indonesian soldiers to come and kill me in the United Kingdom?

If the Indonesian Intelligence Agency want me to “cooperate” then they should let my people to exercise our fundamental right to self-determination in a peaceful Independence referendum as promised to us in 1962.

Neither I nor my people will be intimidated by the threats of these human rights abusing Indonesian authorities which feel they can bully their way around the world demanding that West Papuans who have been already granted political asylum are illegally extradited to be locked up and tortured again by the Indonesian authorities.

I therefore hope very much that despite the ongoing barring of foreign media by the Indonesian government, CNN and other media around the world will continue to report on the truth about occupied West Papua. I also hope that the Indonesian police and intelligence services will stop their childish finger pointing and threats towards entirely peaceful people.

This week, the world entered into a New Year, 2016. It is another year in which we West Papuans will continue to intensify our actions to peacefully struggle for the freedom of our people though exercising our fundamental right to self-determination.

We West Papuans will not be provoked or intimidated. We will continue our peaceful struggle until West Papua is finally free and Independent at last.

Papua Merdeka – Free West Papua

Benny Wenda

West Papuan Independence Leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua