More Indonesian troops sent to West Papua

A solidarity rally in Vanuatu in 2018 supporting West Papua's struggle for self-determination.

According to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), an additional 650 Indonesian commandos were deployed along with an extra 2000 troops on March 12 to the Central Highlands of West Papua to fight the West Papua National Liberation Army.

The Indonesian government has been blocking all emergency food, water and medicines supplied by local churches and NGOs to the central highland districts of Nduga, Kenyam, Yigi, Mbua, and Mapunduma for the past three months.

The ULMWP said the 650 additional commandos have been deployed to “hunt and kill West Papuan freedom fighters” and “eliminate the independence movement”.

Troops have smashed people’s homes and destroyed their gardens in 11 districts in Nduga Regency. Houses and the Jerusalem Church in Barapgin village were specifically targeted, as were houses and churches in Opmo village, in Mbua district in the Nduga Regency.

The ULMWP is concerned that the intermittent battles since December between the West Papuan freedom fighters and the colonial Indonesian security forces will escalate, and war may engulf the territory with an inestimable number of civilian casualties.

The ULMWP is an umbrella grouping of the three main West Papuan independence groups inside the country and works diplomatically at an international level to support West Papua’s right to self-determination.

The people whose rights the fighters are defending are the poorest in West Papua and in Indonesia. ULMWP spokesperson Jacob Rumbiak said: “The United Nations needs to ensure that humanitarian supplies including food, water and medicines reach areas of West Papua which are presently blockaded by the Indonesian military. A UN security presence is needed to protect civilians in the Nduga, Kenyam Yigi, Mbua and Mapunduma districts of West Papua.”