Herman Wainggai – My Remarks at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2016
West Papua National Authority
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
New York, May 9 – 20, 2016.
Theme: “Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace & resolution”
Mr Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Members of the Permanent Forum, Indigenous Brothers and Sisters, distinguish guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
First of all, I would like to thank you for giving us the West Papua Melanesian indigenous people the opportunity to present our statement in the 15 session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
We are representing the West Papua National Authority (WPNA). We appreciate the chance to share what is in our heart and what our people have experienced over the years in our own country. We are committed to our people’s struggle for self-determination – the ultimate freedom for West Papua. This is fundamental right being withheld from us for decades. I have personally been involved in the “Nonviolent struggle” and political activism in my hometown of West Papua since 1989. I, personally, and my organization is committed to using nonviolent action and methods to realize this goal of freedom. The struggle has not been easy. We will never rest until that freedom is achieved; what we termed in our language – ‘Merdeka’ or freedom for our people. I believe with all my heart we can achieve it the a United Nations intervention.
Right now, during this UNPFII session, as one of West Papua leaders living here in the amazing country, USA, I urge you not to turn away from the issue of West Papua. I speak to you from the bottom of my heart that West Papua is facing an extremely threatening situation owing to the increase of the Indonesian military presence there. The Indonesian military build up in West Papua is extremely dangerous. The number of soldiers in West Papua, my home, has increased dramatically – more soldiers have been sent to West Papua recently than before. It is like a Warzone.
Mr. Chairman, the world claims to be more transparent today than ever before, but it ignored the seriousness of the situation in West Papua. The systematic oppression of the indigenous people of West Papua cannot be hidden from the world, especially in this modern age advanced technology and rapid communication. The world is watching West Papua. The international acceptance of basic human rights is at odds with the suppression of these rights by the military and police officers across West Papua who are, as we know, on the Indonesian Government payroll.
In closing, Indonesia has attempted, and will continue, to paint a different picture of the military activities in West Papua, and doing so by calling the post-Suharto regime as the “Reformation Era,” but truth is this slogan doesn’t change Indonesian suppression of Human rights in West Papua. We know that in spite of the so-called “democratic reforms” in Indonesia following the fall of General Suharto in 1998, terrible human rights abuses have not stopped. It continues as I speak. It is of grave concern that military buildup in West Papua has continued under Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo. His government’s ban on journalists traveling to West Papua continues in spite of what his government’s claim. As of now, West Papua is closed to the world and the world, especially the democratic world, is complicit in this.
Therefore, through this 15th Session of the UNPFII, We call upon the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to visit to Indonesia and West Papua to see for themselves the situation of the indigenous people there.
We ask the United Nations and the international community to call on the Indonesian government to urgently permit a United Nations fact-finding team to enter the province to investigate and monitor the human rights situation there.
Secondly, to resume high-level talks with our West Papuan political leaders in the country with the aim of setting a timeline for a genuine act of self-determination. Without this, the atrocity will continue.
I thank you.