West Papua splits Indonesia: Jokowi to talk to ULMWP, Wiranto flies in troops

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ULMWP Media Statement: Wednesday 2 October 2019

West Papua splits Indonesia: Jokowi agrees to talk to ULMWP; Wiranto flies hundreds of troops in and Indonesian civilians out

As rallies and fires mark the end of colonial authority in West Papua, Indonesian President Jokowi agreed to formal dialogue, under UN auspice, with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

But, at the same time, in an ominous move, the Minister for Political, Legal & Security Affairs (former military-general Wiranto) flies Indonesian civilians out of Wamena on military aircraft that landed hundreds of Indonesian soldiers.

It was intense pressure from the churches and Indonesian parliaments in West Papua, intersecting with criticism in the UN General Assembly, that forced Jokowi—who tries to ‘manage’ West Papua with military-inspired development—to recognize the political authority of the ULMWP and agree to talks.

But why is Wiranto emptying Wamena of Indonesian civilians and filling it up with Indonesian soldiers? Thirteen-hundred evacuated on Sunday, the rest, about seven-thousand, to follow. Intransigence as Pacific Island Forum ministers demand UN access to West Papua? Preparing the scorched earth operations that he oversaw, as Head of the Security Forces (and militia) in East Timor in 1998-99? Last week the military, police and militia shot students on campuses in Wamena and Jayapura. Today a Muslim extremist group in Jakarta announced its jihadi plans for West Papua.

Australia—as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum—has asked, alongside other Pacific leaders, both the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, for UN access to West Papua. Under the prevailing circumstances the UN cannot avoid its global authority and responsibility for settling conflicts.

Australia especially should heed the ULMWP’s call for immediate intervention, if only to assist President Jokowi—a civilian politician necessarily ‘protected’ by New Order generals and surrounded by Islamic clerics—who is therefore incapable of removing the Indonesian military or extremist militia in the traditionally Christian colony. He is, furthermore, paralysed by thousands of students massing in cities across the archipelago who have twinned their demand for legislative protection of democratic reforms in Indonesia and the right of West Papuans to self-determination.

“When we non-violently march on the street calling for a referendum, Indonesia arrests and kills us” said Benny Wenda, Chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. “When we invite international media to hear our stories, Indonesia bans them from entering. When we try to tell the world what is happening through social media, Indonesia cuts off the internet. Under Indonesian occupation, West Papua is like the biggest prison in the world.”

Jacob Rumbiak, ULMWP Spokesperson

Inquiries: Ronny Kareni Tel 0401 222 177

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