Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Benny Wenda criticized the Indonesian government's decision that labeled the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM), or the armed criminal group as called by the government, as terrorists.
"How can we be labeled as terrorists when the Indonesian government deployed 20,000 troops to our land in the last three years," said Benny in a written statement quoted on Monday, May 3.
He said terrorism is the use of violence against civilians to intimidate society for political purposes. This was what Indonesia had done in Papua for 60 years, he informed, as the country tortured and killed the Papuan people and destroyed the environment and the way Papuans live.
According to him, the government could not solve issues in Papua by adopting an approach of war against terror. Since the Papuan People's Congress in 2020, Benny went on, they had agreed to pursue peaceful ways to reach an international solution.
Benny also urged President Jokowi to immediately withdraw military forces from Papua which he deemed to only cause fear to women and children in villages and asked the latter to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua as demanded by 84 international states.
"Instead of reacting with further human rights abuses, you must sit down with me, President to President, and find a way to peacefully resolve our conflict," said Benny who declared himself as the Interim President of the West Papua.
Benny Wenda went on to say that the military approach could not resolve the issues but only an internationally-mediated referendum. "For the good of my people and Indonesian people, let us sit down and find a just solution that will last forever," said Benny inviting President Jokowi.