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Benny Wenda: Torture of Papuan women a sign of Indonesian military culture

OXFORD, Westpapuanews.Org — I was deeply saddened to hear about the two West Papuan mothers who were raped and mutilated by Indonesian soldiers in Yahukimo. The way these women were treated is inhuman. What does it say about how Indonesia views West Papuans that its soldiers feel able to do this to our women? Indonesia consistently mutilates, tortures, and brutalises my people. It is a general practice, part of Indonesian military culture. As one academic has put it, torture is a ‘mode of governance’ in West Papua. The four Papuan civilians killed and mutilated by soldiers in Mimika last year are testament to this.

Mass displacement, rape, the killing of religious figures, the murder of children – all these are common tactics in Indonesia’s war against my people’s very existence. The five teenagers murdered last month in Yahukimo show that Indonesia is willing to target the new generation of West Papuans. Young people, even babies, are commonly victims of the military occupation. We do not forget ‘Bloody Paniai’, or the three school children killed by a death squad in Puncak in 2022.

The world’s attention over the past year and a half has been on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and is now turning to the difficult situation in Israel-Palestine. West Papua is again being ignored, as it has been for the past sixty years. How many more years will we continue to suffer persecution and death before the world takes notice? 

The international community should know that they cannot afford many more years of Indonesian occupation. In West Papua, genocide and ecocide go together. We are stewards of the world’s third largest rainforest – a lung of the world. It is currently being destroyed by Indonesia and corporate interests at an unprecedented rate. The world must support our struggle for the sake of humanity. 

This has been a violent and traumatic year for my people. Thousands have been displaced, including due to last month’s incidents in Yahukimo and Nduga. Massacres are common. Young women, like Tarina Murib, are consistently being killed. We need all people to pray for West Papua: we are suffering state terrorism committed by the Indonesian government. 

Once again, we demand a UN visit to West Papua, consistent with the calls of the PIF, OACPS, and now the MSG. We also demand that Indonesia allow journalists and international observers into West Papua. This is crucial for people to understand what is really happening. Indonesia must not be allowed to hide their shameful secret any longer.[]

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