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National football team player Sandy Walsh joins 'All Eyes on Papua' campaign

Suara Papua - June 7, 2024

Jayapura – Solidarity and support against the expropriation and destruction of customary forests in the land of Papua is broadening, with several groups, including soccer players joining in supporting the movement to save Papua's forests.

One of them is Sandy Walsh from the Indonesian National Soccer Team (Timnas). Walsh, who is a descendent of Dutch and Belgium parents, has joined in enlivening the "All Eyes on Papua" movement.

"All eyes on Papua" is a virtual campaign that has been popular over the past week since the Awyu and Moi tribes performed a traditional ritual in front of the Supreme Court building in Jakarta on Monday May 27, in which they demanded justice to save their land and customary forests in Boven Digoel and Sorong regencies.

Over the last few days, the hashtag #AllEyesonPapua has gone viral on social media, both on Instagram, X, Facebook as well as WhatsApp, where its reverberations have continued to sour upwards.

The poster circulating on social media invites concern from the global community to articulate the suffering of the Papuan people due to the assault by investors who are clearly destroying the beauty of customary forests – a source of life, food, medicines and the assets of ancestral heritage.

Not wanting to suffer such a fate, the Awyu and the Moi tribes are fighting for their rights to customary land against the government that has given concessions to investors without permission or the knowledge of the owners of communal land rights.

A theatrical action held in front of the Supreme Court expressed their feelings of unrest, especially over the fate of future generations if all the sources of life have been unilaterally pawned off to big investors.

Calling for a struggle to fight for their rights to customary land, the two tribes wearing customary clothes expressed their rejection and wish for the ownership of the land to be returned.

Although they pursued their struggle through a lawsuit submitted with the district court and the high court, in the end they failed to realise their dream. This did not discourage them and they continued the fight in an appeal with the Supreme Court asking for a fair ruling in favour of the indigenous peoples of the Awyu and Moi tribes who are not willing to see 36,000 hectares of forests clear felled by the palm oil company.

The movement also launched a petition through the Change.org website https://www.change.org/p/hutan-seluas-separuh-jakarta-akan-hilang-mahkamah-agung-cabut-izin-sawit-pt-ial initiated by the People's Earth Heritage Foundation (Pusaka) in March 2. The petition calls for the revocation of PT Indo Asiana Lestari (PT IAL) palm oil permit because if the land is cleared, it is predicted that the loss of Papuan forests will produce 25 million tons of CO2 emissions.

This means, that Sandy Walsh has joined the solidarity movement supporting the two tribes.

Who is Sandy Walsh?

The mixed-blood man whose full name is Sandy Henny Walsh was born in Brussels, Belgium, on March 14, 1995. He is an Indonesian professional soccer player who is 1.85 metres tall and plays as a right-back for KV Mechelen, a Belgian Pro League club.

Before officially becoming an Indonesian citizen (WNI) some time ago, Walsh reinforced the Dutch U-17 national team in 2009-2012 and U-19 team in 2012-2014, although following this he was never called to play for the U-23 or seniors team.

Thankfully, in the end his dream came true and he was allowed to defend Indonesia. He took his oath of Indonesian citizenship along with soccer player Jordi Amat at the Jakarta Ministry of Law and Human Rights regional office on November 17, 2022.

Walsh and Amat's naturalisation was at the request of coach Shin Tae-Yong with the goal of playing in the 2022 Asian Football Federation (AFF) Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup. Both players remain the mainstay of the Indonesian national team with a number of players of foreign decent integrated with the League 1 players.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pemain Timnas Indonesia Ramaikan Gerakan 'All Eyes on Papua'".]

Source: https://suarapapua.com/2024/06/07/pemain-timnas-indonesia-ramaikan-gerakan-all-eyes-on-papua