From behind bars in Manokwari

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Words from Sister Mandabayan

Her visitors found her sitting on the floor behind reinforced bars of her small cell looking out to them and smile. Sister Mandabayan was thrilled to see them, but her visitors would not go up to her because the Indonesian police would not allow them to go beyond two meters. Her ordeal and days in that lonely dark cell appeared to wear her down, but she was cheerful and high in spirit. Her visitors managed to smuggle her hand written letter out of that cell. The letter is addressed to the Women of West Papua and to her three loving children.

The letter (in English):

From Behind Bars
Indonesian Police Prison

September 5th, 2019

To all the women wherever you are in West Papua, and to my three lovely children

It’s early morning here and the sun is rising, but I won’t be able to see it sitting in this lonely cell. I am writing from behind these bars because I really miss you my fellow West Papuan women, and my lovely children.

To my children: Your mom loves you: Genghis Khan, Manduhai, and Victor who are in the city of Sorong, faraway from here. It’s been days since I left you. I am detained and placed in this tiny room, behind reinforced bars, and don’t know how long before I can see you again. I miss you my dear Khan; our time together telling stories and laugh. I miss watching you shouting on the top of your voice – “Papua Merdeka” (Free West Papua). I miss you Manduhai! I miss watching you eat breakfast, and how talk about our lovely home, West Papua, which you know very well is not part of Indonesia. It was stolen from us!

To my fellow West Papuan women. I hope you keep speaking and not backing down. To the mothers, let me ask you these questions: Have you taught your children about “Papua Merdeka?” Our mission on this earth is to our children the truth truth. Have you talked to your children about their true identity – who they really are and where they come from, and what happened to our people?

If you haven’t done it yet, please do so now. Teach your children now so that they will grow up with that knowledge. Let’s educate our children. Talk to them while you are in the kitchen cooking, or around the table during dinner time. Even when you do chores like laundry and gardening. Invite them to join and you and talk to them about our people, and what it means to be West Papuan! Even when you are outside your home: Talk to your children wherever you are, or even when meeting friends and neighbors. Don’t be afraid to speak up. It doesn’t matter whether you travel by car or canoe, talk to your children about “Papua Merdeka!” Tell them about their Melanesian identity – their true identity. Teach them to be proud of their identity – their culture, their race, and their homeland! Tell them how our people became part of Indonesia. Tell them that they are Melanesian and West Papuans to the core, and that they were being forced to become Indonesians.

My revolutionary greetings to you all!

To my children, mom will see you again hopefully soon!

With all my love,
Ma. Manda

Treason for carrying 1500 Miniature Morning Star flags

On September 3rd, we published the story of Sister Mandabayan – a slender build young woman whose appearance doesn’t match the Indonesian police portrayal of her as dangerous and a threat to Indonesia.

Sister Mandabayan flew from Sorong to Manokwari to join her fellow West Papuans in calling for ‘self-determination’ and end to Indonesian occupation of their homeland. A week earlier, indigenous people – men, women, young, old, children, took to the streets of Manokwari – and other cities across West Papua – to protest against Indonesian racism and colonial occupation, while calling for West Papuan self-determination.

At the airport, her bag was searched and everything went downhill from there. Inside her bag were 1,500 miniature West Papuan “Morning Star” flags. The Indonesian police reacted swiftly as if she was carrying a time-bomb. She was detained, questioned, and charged with Treason. She’s beheld pending her trial.


Sister Mandabayan behind bars, charged with Treason

Just yesterday, our friends in Manokwari visited her at the Manokwari Detention Center where she’s being held. She was placed in a small cell with reinforced bars, isolated from the rest of the prisoners. She’s held in this tiny filthy room awaiting her trail or transfer.

Sister Mandabayan is charged with Subversion or conspiracy against the state, and may face up to 20 years in prison.

Free Sister Mandabayan

We condemn the harsh treatment of Sister Mandabayan and we urge the Indonesian government and the police authority in Manokwari to release her and set her hearing date. Her children need her! It is cruel also to detain her when her only crime was carrying miniature ‘Morning Star’ flags. Holding her in this small cell as if she had committed murder, is unfair, and a gross violation of her ‘human rights’.

To all West Papuans around the world and in West Papua, please remember Sister Mandabayan in your prayers!

By Herman Wainggai
West Papuan Human Rights Center
Washington, D.C

1 comments on “From behind bars in Manokwari”

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