Jumat, 23 Desember 2011


Benny Wenda: ‘There’s a silent genocide going on in West Papua'

He might have just been put on an Interpol “wanted” list but West Papuan independence activist Benny Wenda has more important issues on his mind

Benny Wenda: Oxford man will get a fair trial on terror charges - Indonesian official
'I had no involvement': Benny Wenda claims he is innocent of the crimes Indonesia wants to try him for Photo: GETTY
Issued at the request of Indonesian authorities, in relation to charges of arson and murder which he vehemently denies, the Interpol “red notice” means that Wenda can be arrested in, and possibly extradited from, any one of the crime-fighting agency's 190 member states.
Considering that he has been living relatively undisturbed in Britain since he fled from his homeland nearly a decade ago, the softly-spoken lobbyist admits he was “surprised” to learn about the alert – but thinks he knows why it’s happened now.
“Indonesia is getting worried,” he says simply. “I’m campaigning to free my people and I’m travelling abroad as well as up and down the UK, speaking in Parliament, things like that.... It’s definitely politically motivated.”
Wenda, 37, is at the forefront of a long and bitter battle over the sovereignity of West Papua, the former Dutch colony on the island of New Guinea which passed into Indonesian control in the 1960s. Although a referendum on the takeover was held in 1969, the fact that it involved only around 1,000 hand-picked Papuan men (just one per cent of the native population), under the watchful eyes of the Indonesian military, means that many people – Wenda included – regard it as little more than a sham, and the decades since have been marked by bloody conflict.
Wenda, a tribal chief who describes himself as a "leader" of the West Papuan people, has long been considered a hero by those in support of the independence movement. Others, however, have denounced him as an inciter of conflict – and even a potentially dangerous criminal. In 2002, he was placed on trial for spearheading a deadly attack on buildings in the town of Aberpura, but broke out of prison and fled the country before judgement was passed.
It is for this reason that Indonesian authorities say they want him back on Papuan soil; though Wenda, of course, has a very different opinion as to their motives: "I had no involvement. I wasn't even in the country.They just wanted me in prison." He says that he had no choice but to escape from jail: already doubtful that he was going to be given an fair trial, a number of threats he received there made him fearful for his life, and he finally resolved to go one night when a guard whispered through the bars of his cell: “You are already fed, man” – a reference to the Papuan custom of fattening pigs up before slaughter. “I thought, if I try to escape and they kill me, well that’s ok, because at least I won’t have been killed like an animal.” Shortly afterwards, he broke into a ventilation shaft and escaped over the border into neighbouring Papua New Guinea.
After being granted political asylum in Britain, Wenda decided to set up the campaign, Free West Papua, dedicated not only to promoting the province’s independence, but to exposing what he alleges are serious human rights abuses taking place under Indonesian rule. In this, he is not alone. A number of human rights groups have spoken out in the past against what they see as Indonesia's oppressive approach to resistance: a report from Amnesty International released just earlier this year warned that: "The people of Papua are subject to severe human rights violations at the hands of the Indonesian authorities. Their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are heavily curtailed. Many people are imprisoned simply for having taken part in non-violent demonstrations, or having expressed their opinions."
Wenda, however, alleges that it is not only those who speak out who are badly treated. The picture he paints is of a place where institutional racism is rife, and where the the indigenous people are regularly beaten, sexually assaulted and tortured, without provocation. As a child, he claims to have to have seen countless atrocities, from his village being razed to the ground during an Indonesian air strike, to family members being murdered and raped in front of him, and "has lived with that trauma all my life." Today, he believes, the situation is "even worse".
What actually goes in in West Papua is, however, difficult to know; a ban on foreign media, as well as many charitable organisations, means life there is shrouded in secrecy. This, Wenda believes, is why international awareness of the situation is so low. “Because the media are banned, because groups like the Red Cross and Amnesty are banned, no one knows what’s happening.That’s what lets them get away away with it.
"It’s a silent genocide of my people. Just last month, three people peacefully protesting were killed, and hundreds detained, beaten and tortured. No one’s been charged. No one’s been arrested – just a few police questioned."
Wenda’s quest to tell the world about the fate of Papua will certainly be weakened by the Interpol alert; fear of arrest means that foreign travel is now out of the question. Alongside the campaign group Fair Trials International however, he hopes to be able to pressure Interpol to remove the notice, and until then will continue fighting his corner from Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Maria, and six children.
Does he find it difficult, I ask, working so many thousands of miles from his homeland? “Physically, it is hard being away from the people,” he concedes. “But I’m in regular communication, and I am watching 24 hours to see what’s going on."
One day, he hopes to return to his homeland. "But only," he says firmly, "when it is free

Rabu, 21 Desember 2011


A War between Indonesia Military and TPN/OPM

A War between Indonesia Military and West Papuan Liberation Army in Paniai, West Papua
International Forum for West Papua (INFO_WP)
December 20, 2011
Fourteen Paniai residents died as National Liberation Army of Free Papua Organisation (TPN/OPM), the second division in Eduda Hill headquarter and 47 villages in the area were burnt down by the Indonesian security forces last week.
The brutal attacks that started on December 13 have been conducted by combined Indonesian Police Mobile Brigade unit (BRIMOB), military and Indonesian police of Anti-Terrorist unit, Detachment 88. Five helicopters have also been used to support the attacks.
It resulted of displacement up to 542 civilians in the area. They have moved to Enarotali, Paniai district capital, and other 10,000 residents escaped to the jungle. Three women died: a two year old Otolince Degei was killed on December 9, and Yulimina Gobay, (4) and Anna Degei (47) were also killed on December 14.
“This brutal attack is a violation of human rights” said Papuana Mote, the Women Affairs Coordinator of International Forum for West Papua (INFO_WP). “They need to be protected from any cruel and brutal acts.”
The Australian government is responsible to the attack, as both Australia and United States of America have funded Detachment 88. The Detachment 88 is responsible to the killing of freedom fighters and innocent West Papuans
Amatus Douw, President of INFO_WP, said “guerrilla war between Indonesia and West Papuan freedom fighters will not end until there is a third party intervention”. “I have direct contact with the commander of TPN/OPM, John Yogi who told me that they are ready to fight against the Indonesian government to get our independence. The TPN/OPM calls international peace keeping force and UNs fact finding team to monitor the situation”.