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Herman Wainggai – 15 Years Ago Today

December 15, 2015

It’s been a long journey, I can’t find the words, only dreaming of freedom. I need your voice to break the silence.

After 25 five years of my involvement in our struggle for independence, West Papua is still under the grip of colonialism. Our beautiful home is still one of the most militarized territories in the world.

Today, I’m celebrating one of West Papuan national days with my American friends. December 14 is a day that is significant to my personal struggle, but more so our struggle as West Papuans.

December 14 has a very special meaning to me personally and to our peaceful freedom fighters in West Papua. On this very day, December 14, 1988, as a young boy, I witnessed with my own eyes the brutality of the Indonesian military and police officers towards peaceful West Papuan protesters who gathered for a peaceful demonstration at Mandala stadium. My dear uncle, Dr. Thom Wainggai (Dr. Thom) led that protest. During this protest, Dr. Thom declared that West Papua was no longer administered by Indonesia, and called on West Papuans to join their brothers and sisters in Melanesia. He then declared West Papua as an independent Melanesian country separated from Jakarta. After his bold proclamation of West Papuan independence, he and others raised the West Papua flag – a declaration of solidarity with Melanesia. Instantly, the Indonesian military and police responded with brutal force. West Papuans who gathered at that stadium that day were assaulted, arrested, forced to crawl, intimidated and beaten like animals. I saw my uncle trying to negotiate with the Indonesian military and pleading on behalf of those innocent protesters, but he could not stop the brutality of military officers. He was hopeless. I was helpless. I was powerless to help my uncle. All I did was watching the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters as if I was watching a Holly Wood horror movie. I stood there watching helplessly as armed Indonesian officers dragged my uncle away. I was devastated. My spirit was shattered. The following year, December 14, more West Papuans again took to the streets to protest and continued on for sometimes, and Indonesia’s only response was more protesters arrested and jailed.

meAs I described in my recent documentary – “The Unbreakable Melanesian Arrow,” I found myself in the same situation as I rallied our students to commemorate the day my uncle declared West Papua an independent Melanesian country. During that day, December 14, 2000, a number of West Papuan leaders and I led one of the largest protests ever held in West Papua in commemoration of December 14. The protesters marched from Cenderawasih University to downtown Jayapura – a two hours or so march. In spite of police intimidation and harassment, we made it to Taman Imbi park where we protested against illegal occupation of our lands by Indonesia. As a result of that, my dad and I were arrested – first in separate locations and reunited in jail. We spent four months together in prison – in the same room, under inhumane conditions. It was the saddest moment of my life.

Looking back, it was my little sacrifice for my people and though I’m in a foreign land – free, I am not going to stop fighting for my people. I quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we are born free and equal, but why are we still imprisoned in my own country? I have often seen the flags being of various independent states flown outside of the UN building. It is a beautiful and prideful sight and a constant reminder to me that the West Papuan flag should be flying there too, and someday it will. This is what the West Papuan people have been and will continue to fight for. The UN has an obligation to protect, and also an obligation to right past injustices by sending UN monitors to West Papua and putting pressure on the Indonesian government. Not doing so is injustice in itself. The Indonesian government needs to allow unhindered access to international journalists and end impunity for their security forces.

Also, the United Sates, as a member of the UN Security council and the UN, has an obligation also to help put an end to atrocities such as the slow genocide which is happening in my country of West Papua. Pretending that something doesn’t exist doesn’t make that “thing” go away. Thus, ignoring West Papuan human rights abuses, doesn’t make it go away, it will be there as a reminder to the rest of the world that the lives of certain people aren’t that important.

A good way to honor this day is to help spread the words. Public awareness is what we need. I, as a former political prisoner, who went through very difficult circumstances – in prison and in exile, appeal to all my fellow West Papuans to keep fighting. Fight peacefully and don’t give up. Don’t give these people excuses to use excessive force on you, let them be the aggressors.

And to all our supporters out there, keep up the good work. We can never pay your back, all we have to offer you is – THANK YOU!

Source hermanwainggai.net

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