Tens of thousands of West Papuans are taking to the streets this week in a 'second wave' of the West Papua Uprising, following mass demonstrations against Indonesian rule last week. Sparked by the racist abuse and arrests of West Papuan students in Surabaya on August 17, rallies have taken place across West Papua on a scale not seen since the Papuan Spring of 1999-2000. Protestors are demanding a referendum as the only way forward for a peaceful conflict resolution in West Papua.
The internet remains virtually shutdown across West Papua with all data services no longer functioning. This deliberate attempt to stifle freedom of expression intensifies a six-decade-long ban on international journalists from entering the region. The blackout is severely hampering information on the number of Papuans arrested, shot and killed by security services. At least 45 people have been arrested in Fakfak and at least three people shot in Fakfak and Timika, including a 13-year-old girl in Manokwari on August 19. At least one person has been killed in Wamena.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua is advising all international media to pay attention to the escalating political situation in West Papua. With a rapidly increasing military and police presence, there are concerns about a repeat of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre.
The ULMWP is also calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners in West Papua, including Bazoka Logo, Head of the ULMWP's Political Bureau, who was arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in support of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders on August 15. PIF leaders recently released a joint communique calling on 'all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all [West Papuan] residents and to work to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means'.
ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda stated, 'The racist discrimination towards the West Papuan people is the spark that has lit the fire of over 50 years of sentiment against injustice, 50 years of determination to be free. Now my people are launching a second wave of demonstrations, and the time has come for us to reclaim our country. We urgently need the world to be alert and to support us and our struggle for self-determination and peace.'
Videos of mass demonstrations on August 26:
- Wamena, West Papua 26th August 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkxIzfV0DdA
- Deiyai, West Papua 26th August 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5bLUbGJ2jM
- For interviews with ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda, ULMWP Press Office: press@ULMWP.org
- ULMWP Pacific Mission – Ronny Kareni: +61 401 222 177
Additional footage and photos also available on request