Burning Villages in Wamena, West Papua

At least once or twice a year, Indonesian troops stationed in occupied West Papua go on a rampage in the remote highlands and kill several people, burn down dozens of houses and destroy crops and livestock. These attacks are the consequence of escalating tensions created by the constant oppressive presence of what is essentially a foreign military force with a mandate to crush any resistance by a marginalized and dwindling indigenous population.

Some of these killing sprees are fairly well documented. However, since international journalists are banned from entering West Papua and the occupation forces have been known to murder local journalists who try to expose these crimes, it is very difficult to know the extent of the violence and abuse. It’s likely that the reality is even much worse than the trickle of horrifying images and reports that do get out have shown so far.

One fact that provides some perspective is this: nearly every prominent West Papuan leader in the last 2 decades has either been assassinated, exiled or thrown in jail and tortured while being denied medical treatment. It’s important to note also that all this takes place with the full approval and even assistance from the USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands and other EU countries.

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