January 2023 Newsletter

February 19, 2023

In this month’s newsletter:
~ The take-away from Lukas Enembe’s arrest
~ Journalist’s home bombed
~ Successful West Papua conference brings supporters together
If you take just one thing from this email…
The arrest of West Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe reminds us that even figures who agree to work within Indonesian Institutions are targeted. There is no future with Indonesia: the fight for self-determination continues. As Interim President Benny Wenda says, “No matter how many of us Indonesia arrests, beats, or kills, we will continue to fight until our struggle for self-determination is complete”.

Release Lukas Enembe 🚨


What’s going on here?
West Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe was arrested by the Indonesian state. He was accused of corruption and banned from travelling abroad for essential medical treatment. A few days after his arrest, Enembe was hospitalised.

What does this mean?
Enembe’s arrest cannot be separated from his increasingly vocal stance against Indonesia’s colonial policies. He openly opposed Indonesia’s plan to divide West Papua into new provinces last year (a ‘divide and rule’ tactic designed to steal Papua’s natural resources and allow further militarisation).

Enembe is only the latest Papuan to be criminalised in this way: Eltinus Omaleng, the head of Mimika Regency, was also arrested on spurious corruption charges.

When Papuans protested for Enembe’s release, armed Indonesian police beat, shot, and arrested them in large numbers. So far, one protester has been killed.

Why should we be worried?
To our readers, it’s no secret that Indonesia responds brutally to Free West Papua activists, but Enembe’s arrest confirms that even figures working within Indonesian institutions are not safe. Enembe is being targeted despite agreeing to work toward peace on Indonesia’s terms.

It’s also deeply concerning that many Papuan leaders have died in mysterious circumstances over the past three years. At least 16 have mysteriously died since 2020, many of them on their own, in hospitals or hotels.

Governor Enembe must be immediately released: no West Papuan is ever safe in Indonesian custody, especially not one who is already in such poor health“, says Interim President Benny Wenda.

Is there hope for peace?
Not under Indonesia. Over 25,000 additional troops have been deployed to West Papua since the uprising in 2019. The plan is clear- as Indonesia cleanses West Papua of its Indigenous people, they build big highways and ecologically disastrous plantations in their place.

However, the UN High Commisioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) has been trying to gain entry to West Papua for years. Indonesia has barred its entry, but the list of countries calling for this visit is growing. Indonesia is currently ignoring the will of the UK, Spain, the Netherlands,18 countries in the Pacific Islands Forum and 79 countries in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

How can I help? 🌟
~ Boycott Indonesian products until Indonesia facilitates a visit to West Papua by the UNHCR: we support the Pacific Conference of Churches’ call, please watch this space for ways you can join the boycott.

~ Become a monthly donor to sustain the Free West Papua Campaign: by far the best way to support the Campaign is to make a regular monthly donation. Please help us keep the fight for independence going!

~ Purchase Free West Papua merchandise to financially support the Campaign as well as spread awareness: you can also post a photo of you with your merchandise to Facebook and/or Instagram and tag us, or email them to us.children fwp flag.jpeg
You can buy the Free West Papua t-shirts and flag pictured here.

~ Indonesia’s new ‘Rainforest OPEC’ is simply a campaign to whitewash their occupation: it’s important to remember the pact with Brazil and the DRC is pure PR. Indonesia continues to destroy the rainforest through mega projects like the Trans Papua highway and the Wabu Block gold mine.
deforestation-indonesia.webpBetween 2001 and 2021, Indonesia lost more than 28 million hectares (69 million acres) of forest.

~ Journalist Victor Mambor’s home bombed in Papua: Mambor, editor and co-founder of the local independent news website Jubi.id, says he frequently receives threats and hate speech on social media.

~ Islamist groups committed numerous abuses against religious minorities, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people while Indonesian authorities looked the other way: the 2023 Human Rights Watch report reveals the Indonesian government frequently violated basic civil and political rights, especially of disadvantaged groups. 

~ Food estate destroys lives of Marind indigenous people: thousands of hectares of customary land of the Marind indigenous people, which is a fundamental economic source to the people, has been annexed by corporations.

📈 2022 📈
~ Violence against journalists in Indonesia increased in 2022: the perpetrators are mostly police, and the types of attacks include digital attacks, physical violence, destruction of work equipment, threats and intimidation.

We recieved great feedback for the recent conference at the Queen Mary University of London titled “Resisting Ecocide: Restoring Balance and Harmony to West Papua”.

It was a big step forward, bringing together diverse speakers including academics, lawyers, politicians, and West Papuan activists.

The conference discussed the link between state and environmental violence in West Papua.

🙏 Thank you to all those who attended or watched the livestream, and to the excellent speakers for their hard work: Roy Lee (Solon Law); Interim President Benny Wenda (United Liberation Movement for West Papua); Fadjar Schouten-Korwar (human rights lawyer); Raki Ap (West Papuan activist); Eve Sariyiannidou (EU–Indonesia project); Connor Woodman (Independent researcher); Emma Kluge (European University Institute); Kris Lasslett (University of Ulster); Chris Saltmarsh (Author of Burnt); Lisa Tilley (SOAS); Alex Sobel MP (Chair of the Parliamentary APPG on West Papua); Keith Hyams (International Academics for West Papua); Joan Martinez Alier (Autonomous University of Barcelona); and David Whyte (Queen Mary).