A humanitarian crisis is worsening in West Papua’s highlands, as Indonesian military and police activity escalates across the remote region, which has been occupied by Indonesia for decades. Radio New Zealand International is reporting that Papuans are fleeing to the jungle in terror as the military continues a so-called ‘sweep operation’ around the area of Puncak Jaya that began in April. The military claims it is hunting for members of the OPM Free West Papua movement, and is using this excuse to detain and question anyone who does not have an Indonesian ID card. Andreas Harsono, from Human Rights Watch Indonesia, says the military have been torturing people and destroying houses and critical infrastructure. There are reports of rapes and killings.
The Free West Papua movement is calling on the international community to help. Benny Wenda, exiled West Papuan Independence leader, explains: ‘The Indonesian military are trying to find Papua freedom fighters, led by Goliath Tabuni, and have set a deadline for them to surrender. But there will never be any surrender by the Papuan people in our struggle. We all want freedom. The people of West Papua need your help to put pressure on the Indonesia government before something terrible happens. We need the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces to West Papua immediately, and we need foreign media and human rights groups to be allowed in.’