Testimony from West Papua

By: Mr. Herman Wainggai
It’s been a long journey, I can’t find the words, only dreaming of freedom. I need your voice to break the silence. After 30 years of my involvement in our struggle for independence, West Papua is still under the grip of colonialism. Our beautiful home is still one of the most militarized territories in the world. Today, I’m sharing one of my thirty poems with my American friends and international community.
“Indonesian Iron Trellis”

I was jailed
The room was dark
The smell of human blood came over me

Cold dirty floor without toilet
With stuffy air pricking my nose and collision

They tortured my body
with a cunning conspiracy
They intimidated me and planned murder for me

Then I could not see the sun, moon and stars

Only a dark room and a small candle accompany me
I didn’t know I would die here
I answered, no
I must stay alive

Prayers and faith that strengthen my struggle for survival
I went through it all with my father
December 14
19 years ago
We were arrested, jailed and tortured

I keep screaming for freedom
West Papua must be independent
despite the lives at stake
I keep fighting

All I bet for my people
to wave my nation’s flag
Until the time comes
they will see the beauty of this long struggle

Tears, sorrow and relentless sacrifice
Will be carved beautifully on the Melanesian generation in the land of New Guinea
Graceful Bird of Paradise
full of charm

Herman Wainggai
Former Political Prisoner
Exiled in Virginia, America