The images from Wamena, West Papua today have filled my heart with sadness. 13 more people have been confirmed dead and 17 have been injured in the beautiful highland town of Wamena, West Papua, adding to the already 500,000 people who have been slaughtered by the Indonesian military since 1969. I fear that this current massacre will grow to one similar to that of the Santa Cruz massacre that the Indonesian military committed in East Timor. I write to you today because I know there is something we can all do together to stop this.
Violence broke out in West Papua in the afternoon of June 6th in the outlying village of Honailama when two members of Kostrad (Strategic Reserve) battalion 756, identified as Pratu Ahmad Saifudin and Pratu Ahmad Saelan, were driving a car at high speed through Honailama, and hit a young boy (as yet unidentified) who was playing at the roadside. The soldiers were alleged to have been careless drivers. The boy’s death enraged villagers who then dragged the soldiers from the car and beat them to death.
Upon hearing of the beatings, the entire army battalion (1500 combat troops) was mobilized onto the streets of Wamena and opened fire indiscriminately at any Papuan person. Hundreds of people have fled the town and are now hiding in the hills surrounding it, as the Indonesian military continues its offensive.
We urgently need UN peacekeepers to be sent to protect the citizens of West Papua from the vicious onslaught of the Indonesian military.
My people demand nothing more than the freedom to think, the freedom to move, the freedom to act, and the freedom to choose their own destiny without fear of rape, torture, intimidation, murder or oppression. Let’s today make Indonesia’s newest military offence against West Papuans its last.
Please hear my peoples cry at this most critical time.
Benny Wenda and the Free West Papua Campaign
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