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USA Today – WPNA Leader Urges United Nations on International Day to Intervene in West Papua

August 8, 2016

WPNA Leader Urges United Nations on International Day to Intervene in West Papua

Tomorrow, the United Nations will honor the Indigenous people of the world on this International Day with the theme – "Education Right". August 9th is the ‘International day of the indigenous people’ and the UN’s theme for this ‘international day” is "Education". The UN will promote the rights of Indigenous people of the world to better education. However, West Papuan representative, Herman Wainggai – the Nobel Peace Prize nominee and leader of the West Papuan National Authority has a different message for the UN – “Intervene in West Papua”.

Intervention before Education

In the 1990s, Herman Wainggai was a victim himself of educational discrimination. He was denied a scholarship without a single explanation from the Indonesian government other than the fact that his uncle was the leader of the ‘Nonviolent Struggle’ in West Papua, Dr. Thom Wainggai. So on this very important day, he urges the UN to intervene in West Papua to ensure that the indigenous people of West Papua aren’t being denied the basic educational rights that the UN promotes for all indigenous peoples. He maintains that as long as West Papuans live under the colonial government of Indonesia – a foreign occupier – the rights of indigenous people to ‘Education’; among others, cannot be realized or achieved.

Education and Freedom

A major part of modern education is the ability to express one’s idea or opinion without being harassed or attacked by the government. For the past five decades, indigenous people have been denied many privileges, including education, just because the system is stacked against them. Those who raised their voices and expressed their opinions, which is a right under international laws and a right central to the objectives and fundamental values shared by the UN, have been arrested, tortured, and incarcerated for years. Hundreds are currently behind bars on this very important day. These college students had their rights to “education” robbed from them by a paranoid government. Other youngsters weren’t so lucky – they died in the hands of Indonesian defense forces. Other students studying in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and other parts of Indonesia face government intimidation and unfair treatment for who they are. Their skin, their languages, and their features are target objectives of the Indonesian government. Those in these institutions who raised their voices – expressed opinions deep and dear to their hearts, were arrested, tortured, removed from school and their dreams are forever shattered.

Slow motion genocide

Thus, it is important for the UN to also recognize that some people out there cannot get a proper education because of their circumstances. These are the people the UN should put all their efforts into supporting. People in West Papua have been waiting for decades for their own dreams of a better life, better education, but they must first be freed from colonial oppression. There’s an ongoing human rights violation against the indigenous Melanesian people, which started when Indonesia took over by Indonesian military some 53 years ago. That violation continues to this very day.

Recently, the Indonesian government escalated its aggressive assault on indigenous rights because of the growing call from indigenous leaders for the independence of West Papua. To date, hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have died in this struggle for self-determination leading many to believe that a systematic genocide – scholars dubbed a "slow motion genocide" taking place right under their noses. The indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua want nothing but Self-Determination – the right to govern themselves as a nation, a country and as a UN member, but that desire also comes with a price to pay.

In response to this ongoing human right violation in West Papua against indigenous people, the WPNA is organizing a peaceful protest throughout West Papua to be held on August 15, 2016 (a week from now). The organizers of his protest planned to use the occasion to bring attention to the violation of indigenous rights and to call for a UN Intervention in West Papua. Mr. Wainggai urges support for this peaceful protest.

Herman Wainggai
Former political prisoner,
Leader of Nonviolent struggle,
Indigenous scholar and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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