Mass rallies held all over West Papua to call for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group – 44 arrested

April 19, 2016

On Wednesday 13th April, mass rallies were held across West Papua to call for The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)’s full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

The people of West Papua demonstrated in their thousands and made their wishes heard in Port Numbay/Jayapura, Sorong, Wamena, Biak, Kaimana, Timika, Merauke, Yahukimo, Manokwari, Fakfak and all over West Papua as well as in several Indonesian cities.

In Port Numbay/Jayapura alone over 5000 people took to the streets, united in one voice to call for ULMWP’s full membership of the MSG and an Independence referendum (internationally supervised vote.) They also rejected the Indonesian government’s claims to full MSG membership and as their representatives. However there was a brutal crackdown by the Indonesian military and police, over 800 of whom swarmed the streets of Port Numbay/Jayapura alone. Shocking footage has recently emerged of the Indonesian police smashing a West Papuan taxi cab that was carrying people to the demonstration.

11 people were arrested in Port Numbay/Jayapura, 3 in Sorong, 14 in Kaimana and 13 in Merauke. In Yahukimo 5 people were arrested the day before simply for distributing leaflets calling for a demonstration. They were reportedly tortured by the Indonesian police “with a hammer” before being later released.

West Papuan Independence Leader and Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda released a statement about the mass demonstrations saying

“Why is the Indonesian government brutally suppressing West Papuans from expressing our desires for ULMWP’s full MSG membership?”

“We appeal to our Melanesian brothers and sisters for help. We are Melanesian West Papuans simply seeking to return to our roots and join as full members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group because we are an integral part of Melanesia and full members of the Melanesian family.”

He went onto say “The Indonesian government is using ‘economic diplomacy’ and telling the world that they are democratic but in West Papua there is no freedom of expression, especially when it comes to calling for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.”

Speaking at a rally, Victor Yeimo the Chairperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) also gave a message to the international community showing the expressions of the West Papuan people for full MSG membership, as well as asking people around the world to raise their voice for West Papua’s support.

The people of West Papua have made their wishes very clear. ULMWP for full MSG Membership. No Indonesia in the MSG. Referendum for West Papua!

More photos from the mass demonstrations across West Papua can be seen on our Facebook Page here.