West Papua’s independence leader Benny Wenda in a letter of solidarity and friendship that the protestors in Standing Rock and West Papua have a lot in common as indigenous people struggling for rights.
“On behalf of the people of West Papua we offer solidarity to our Indigenous brothers and sisters as we intimately understand the complicated struggles they are facing,” said Wenda via his website.
The Melanesian people of West Papua face neo-colonial rule by Indonesia which has seen extreme repressive moves against the indigenous people and vast demographic change as mostly people from Java move to the isolated region on the eastern edges of Indonesia.
Wenda said that his independence movement was drawing parallels and inspiration from the ongoing protests in North Dakota and was “alarmed that their people, lands, and traditional ways of life have become threatened to the point of extinction.”
“As we witness militarized law enforcement agencies commit acts of violence against peaceful water protectors in the U.S., it reminds us of our own mistreatment at the hands of those intending to overpower and silence our voices,” he said.
Wenda added that “the urgent situation at Standing Rock reminds us to advocate for the right of every Indigenous person to protect their culture and religion, tribal systems and natural resources.”
Since the illegal annexation of West Papua by Indonesia in 1969, approximately 500,000 people have been killed by Indonesian forces.