We have come to testify. There is much that we want the world to know.
We want to testify about the injustices of the Biak massacre.
We want to testify about the killings and the beatings with rifles.
We want to testify about the people who were disappeared, those who were imprisoned and those who were tortured.
There were many forms of torture – the burning, the stabbing of the genitals, the rape of women.
These are some of the injustices that we want the world to know.
We were up against Hercules aircraft and helicopters and boats. They had overwhelming power.
On that day there were bullets like rain.
And after that day, the injustices continued.
Rather than acknowledge the truth, they told lies. They said the bodies that were washing up on the shoreline were from a tsunami when they knew it was from murder.
The perpetrators were promoted not punished, while the victims were dragged into court.
This was like one injustice after another and then another.
We were threatened with death if we spoke about it. People wouldn’t even look at the tower. It was as if you looked at the tower you would be dead.
To really understand, it’s important to know that the injustices began well before the Biak massacre. There has been violation after violation since 1963. Entire villages have been destroyed. And Papuan people have been turned against other Papuans.
The injustices continue to this day. Survivors carry the stamp of separatism and face continuing discrimination. They are excluded from employment, education and health care.
And for women, it has been worse. They suffered the rapes and assaults and then even more. They were shamed by their own families and often marriages broke apart. These are forms of double injustice and women’s suffering that no one should ever have to face.
These are just some of the injustices that we are testifying to today. We want the world to know about this.
We also want to testify to the effects of the massacre
Some of our bodies bear the scars of that day.
And so do our souls. We will never forget the sound of the killings. Some of us still feel the fear. We don’t know if we will be safe when we return.
Other survivors have been left with physical disabilities and troubles in the mind.
The rapes brought shame – so much shame that some women did not seek medical help.
And sometimes survivors may feel guilty for being alive. The killings can make us doubt that we have a right to live.
There have been effects for children too. Fear came to the children who did not go to school for months.
But there is more that we want you to know.
We want you to know our testimonies of remembrance.
We are survivors and also witnesses. Since that day, we have always remembered those who were killed. We will remember them until we die.
There are many ways that we do this.
We have cultural ways of joining in memory and in prayer. We place stones or wreaths of flowers. And there are traditional songs that we use to connect us with those who have died and with the ancestors. These are songs we can sing to those who have passed. We do this in a quiet place, a garden, a beach.
Or we remember through making statues of our loved ones, or photos, or lighting candles.
But we never forget them. Those of us who are still alive have a responsibility to keep progressing the struggle. I have dreams of those who were killed in the jungle. They come to me in my dreams and they encourage me to keep going. I dreamt of them just last week. I listen to their voices.
If they knew that we were meeting together this week, if they knew that we were testifying, they would be very happy. This would mean something to them.
They have gone over there to another world. We will always remember them.
We also want you to know the stories of our action and rescue
Since that day, many of us have formed organisations of action. We come together for survivors of human rights abuses, for women, for people all over Papua. We take action on behalf of those who are living and those who are no longer alive.
Some of us were involved in acts of rescue on the day of the massacre too. On that day when bullets were raining down, and when the sky was on the fire, our family gave shelter to two men who were fleeing for their lives. My father gave them his clothes. He sat my sisters on their laps.
We sat down quietly and we opened all the doors and all the windows. When the soldiers came in all their weaponry, we stood there shaking. As they held their guns at us, and asked us if we were hiding anyone, we said no. We were all shaking, my father, my sisters, myself, but we survived, and the two men survived too. For four days they stayed with us. We had almost no food but my mother found a way to feed us. We are survivors and we are witnesses too.
We want you to know about Papuan skills in survival
Despite all the injustices we have faced, we are survivors and we have many skills. We are wise about when to speak, when to stay quiet, and when to sing our songs. Some of these songs were written in prison for the future of West Papua.
We have our dances.
We have prayer and God as our witness.
And we have each other. We are among friends and we want to acknowledge all those who have stood with us.
There are other Papuan survival skills too.
Some of us travelled by canoe with 43 others all the way to Australia to seek another life.
And we have skills in humour, in jokes and in laughter. Even in the hardest times, we pray, we sing, we dance, and somehow we find a way to laugh.
We want you to know about our hopes and our dreams
We carry a big hope together … a free West Papua. We have held onto this hope for many, many years.
We also hope this tribunal can be a precedent. As we lift up these injustices to the light, then all the other cases will also be lifted up.
And we carry a hope for justice – international justice, western justice, Biak justice, spiritual justice.
That is why we are testifying today.
We are sharing with you testimonies of injustice.
We are speaking about the effects of these injustices.
We are sharing testimonies of remembrance.
We are sharing stories of action and rescue.
We are sharing our Papuan survival skills.
And we are testifying to our hopes and to our dreams.
What we are testifying here has been an open secret. We have always known this, God has always known this, but now you will know it too.
This means that now you are also witnesses.
So these stories and our hopes will now also be carried by you.