Indonesian military crackdown on West Papuans who refuse to vote in the Indonesian Presidential elections.
July 8, 2014
The following statement has been released by Benny Wenda, West Papuan independence leader living in exile in the UK:
On Wednesday July 9th West Papuan people will boycott the Indonesian Presidential elections. If there was any democratic space for us in West Papua we would be able to freely express our political opinions. Instead, Major General Zebua of the Indonesian Army has publicly threatened to destroy West Papuans who refuse to vote. In the last week people have been arrested and tortured for choosing not to vote. On Sunday he put his forces on full alert.
Our people want to express their political opinion in their homeland. Victor Yeimo, General chairman or the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) (who is currently in prison for leading a protest) has asked military and police to appreciate the political choice of the Papuan people and to open up democratic space. However, the current situation in West Papua is tense, with a widespread military crackdown on West Papuans who refuse to vote in the Indonesian elections. Simion Daby, Chairman of the KNPB Baliem, Wamena has stated, “We will boycott the Indonesian elections with peace and dignity.” We have received reports of the following arrests related to the boycott: One woman was arrested in Kaimana, also seven people in Timika and at least twenty in Boven Digul. Also six people were arrested, beaten and then taken to the Jayapura police station last Thursday for distributing flyers urging for a boycott.
It is our right as humans on this earth and in our ancestral land to vote or not vote as we choose. What kind of freedom of expression can we expect when the army threatens to destroy you if you don’t do what they want? In 1969 the Indonesian army threatened my people at gunpoint to vote to give up our freedom and become a part of Indonesia. The attitude of the Indonesian military has not changed since then.
With the 1969 Act of Free Choice the right to freely and fairly vote on the future of our land was criminally stolen from us by the Indonesian Military. Everyone now knows that this was illegal and fraudulent. When we have our right of self determination then we will vote. West Papuan people will vote in a free and fair act of self determination on our future. We will vote in an internationally monitored referendum to international standards, under international law. Then you will see every single West Papuan on this earth vote. They will queue for days. And when they vote they will shed tears of joy.
I urge all international advocates and journalists to be aware of the threats of the Indonesian military and police against our people. Please keep watching the situation in West Papua during the coming days and report what happens. Please help us stay safe on 9th July.
Benny Wenda is available for interviews. You can contact our office on 01865 403202, or directly to Benny via +44 7833114087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benny Wenda previously released this statement calling for the boycott.