Indonesia and Freeport must respect the will of the people of West Papua



Today 7th April 2016, a number West Papuan students in Port Numbay/Jayapura were reportedly arrested for peacefully demonstrating to demand an end to the mining exploitation in West Papua. They also demanded self-determination for the people of West Papua and other similar demonstrations were held in solidarity, throughout Indonesia. After being forcibly dispersed by the Indonesian riot police armed with tear gas, water-canons and other equipment, the West Papuan students, including a 16-year-old boy were taken to the Indonesian police station. According to unconfirmed reports, they had many of their personal possessions forcibly confiscated. I call upon the Indonesian authorities to immediately release all those arrested and to stop arresting West Papuan people for peacefully demonstrating.

West Papuan students at the Indonesian police station after being arrested

The arrests of the students today highlight the Indonesian government’s fear towards further exposure of their illegal occupation and resource exploitation in West Papua. Last year as many as 8000 West Papuan people were reportedly arrested by the Indonesian police just for similar peaceful actions.

Both the Indonesian government and Freeport McMoRan which operates the world’s largest goldmine in West Papua, must not silence West Papuan freedom of expression but instead should respect the will of the West Papuan people.

Both the Indonesian government and Freeport McMoRan have no right to discuss between themselves the mining operations in West Papua. They are operating in West Papua which is a country under illegal occupation, whose people are suffering conflict and genocide. We the people of West Papua have the fundamental right to self-determination and we must be allowed to determine our own destiny which we have been denied for decades. It is up to us not Indonesia to decide what happens to our resources, our land and our country.

The Indonesian government and Freeport never consulted with the people of West Papua when Freeport was sold the mining rights to West Papua in 1967, before Indonesia even occupied West Papua. Now we can see a repeat of this same issue just like the 1962 New York Agreement and the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” known to West Papuans as the Act of NO Choice. Once again, the Indonesian government are negotiating the fate of the West Papuan people without the people of West Papua. Does the Indonesian government and Freeport believe that there are no human beings living in West Papua?

West Papuan students at a protest today

It is time for Indonesia, Freeport and the international community to listen to the demands of the people of West Papua. We want self-determination for West Papua. We want this fundamental right to self-determination to be exercised in an Internationally Supervised Vote. West Papua, including the land and resources of West Papua belong only to the people of West Papua. It up to us to decide what happens to West Papua.

Benny Wenda
West Papuan Independence Leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)

[email protected]

*The names and details of all those arrested are not yet known but will be updated when further information becomes available.