PNN-TV: Free West Papua!!- Deecolonize Academy Youth Skola Report
(Photo from Climate Leadership March in Oakland 2015)
Free West Papua
The Struggle for Freedom
I am 15 years old in the tenth grade and I am a proud and strong Tongan woman. I don't feel the need to put my name because while most people will worry about who I am another person somewhere else in the world is being murdered, raped, abused, oppressed, and stripped down of their identity and humanity. Now for those of you who can't catch on to the point I am trying to make I am talking about the indigenous people of West Papua.
West Papua is located near the south pacific and was colonized by the Netherlands in 1898. When the Republic of Indonesia became an independent nation state in 1949, West Papua remained under Dutch control. At the end of 1961, West Papua held a Congress at which its people declared independence, and raised their new flag, the Morning Star. Life for them was amazing and they felt like they were living the dream. Little did they know that their dream would only turn into a nightmare as the Indonesian military invaded West Papua and as of right now continue to live in fear for the Indonesian military has taken full control of West Papua. It is now illegal for them to be Papuan.
Benny Wenda, a West Papuan independence leader said, “When I was a child my village was bombed by the Indonesian military and many of my family were killed. Later, I began to campaign peacefully to free my country from Indonesian occupation. For this ‘crime’ I was arrested, tortured and threatened with death. I managed to escape to the UK, where I now live in exile. My people are still suffering. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, raped and tortured. All we want is to live without fear and for West Papua to become a free and independent country. Please hear my peoples’ cry for help. Please support the Free West Papua Campaign.”
I think that this is extremely sad and completely outrageous. It should not be illegal to be who you are when the land rightfully belongs to the people that were living there before colonization. They should not have to live in constant fear of being raped or murdered. It not only affects them but me as well since I am a pacific islander and they are people of the pacific. I might not be going through what they are but I do know what it feels like to always be in constant fear and not knowing whether you would be able to live to see another day. I know what pain feels like and the least I can do for the strong citizens of West Papua is bring their story to light and make it aware to everyone around me. This much I owe to them.