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Remembering Baba Richard Joweni: A Distinguished West Papuan Freedom Fighter

by Veli Mbele Ka-Sompisi, 18 October 2022

by admin
Those of you who follow my work, would know that there are particularly black existential questions that I always seek to place at the centre of my work.
These existential questions include Arab anti-blackness, the historical and contemporary imperialist attacks on Haiti, the minerals-driven conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the continued genocide against our Black kin in West Papua.
I have chosen to centre these black existential questions in my work, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons being the continued role of what is referred to as mainstream academic, research and media institutions, NGOs and political parties, in disabling Black people, cognitively.
These institutions, perpetuate and reinforce anti-black narratives, discourses, paradigms and ideologies that ensure that we as the Black race remain hopelessly ensnared in the cognitive web of European philosophers, scholars and historians.
The 16th of this month, marked the 7th anniversary of the passing of Baba Richard Joweni. Baba Joweni was an elderly and distinguished West Papuan Freedom Fighter, who unfortunately transitioned on 16 October in 2015.
At the time of his passing, Baba Joweni was 73 years-old and has been a Freedom Fighter for over 50 years. Baba Joweni was one of those who literally dedicated his life to the quest for land and dignity for our Black family in West Papua.
For over 50 years, our Black kin in West Papua have been gallantly resisting against the racist-violent- repressive Indonesian regime, which has systematically killed over 500 000 of our Black kin.
Indonesia has essentially turned West Papua into a modern day colony and together with Australia and certain Pacific, Asian and western governments and multinationals, Indonesia has been voraciously pillaging West Papua’s natural resources (gold, silver, natural gas, copper, timber etc.).
To maintain this bloody- repugnant colonial project of plunder and genocide, the Indonesian army carries out regular attacks on unarmed civilians, mass rape and murder, kidnappings, destruction of homes and detentions without trial.
Indonesia’s special forces are trained by Australia. This is in spite of the constant public protests in Australia and other parts of the region. As a result, thousands of our Black kin in West Papua are displaced today.
The invasion and colonisation of West Papua by Indonesia is without doubt the most ignored genocide of our time. The United Nations (UN) is aware of this genocide and all it does is issue meaningless statements.
This is hardly surprising because the UN is highly implicated in the colonisation of West Papuan. It was the UN that facilitated the neocolonial Act of Free Choice referendum of August 1969.
Through this referendum, the UN essentially legalised the invasion and colonisation of West Papua. What about the issue of solidarity from Afrikan states?
On the West Papuan question, the less said about Afrikan heads of state, governments or the African Union (AU), the better.
Afrikan heads of state go to the UN regularly, but they don’t utter a word in solidarity with our Black West Papuan kin or in condemnation of the terrorist Indonesian regime.
My deepest respect and salute goes to the governments of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and other progressive governments in the South Pacific.
The leadership of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea fully understand the racialised terror that their West Papuan kin are being subjected and thus their solidarity campaigns.
At the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. MP. Mr. Bob Loughman, once again delivered a bold message of support to the oppressed people of West Papua. Here is the link to his speech https://youtu.be/izucIT9V3NQ
At the same session, the Prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. MP. Mr. James Marape, also delivered his government’s message of support to the oppressed people of West Papua.
It also warms my heart to see that, the Black students in West Papua are not allowing themselves to be terrorised into silence and inaction by the anti- black-terrorist Indonesian regime.
The Black students of West Papua are mobilising, building consciousness and resisting. Here is the link to see some of the latest resistance efforts. https://fb.watch/fFJwrgsIBi
As afrocentrists, pan afrikanists, afrikan or black nationalists, black consciousness proponents, wherever we are in the world, we must use whatever opportunity we get to raise awareness about what I refer to as the world’s most ignored genocide.
May the memory and irrepressible spirit of Baba Richard Joweni live on. May the West Papuan Liberation struggle achieve victory! Papua Merdeka! Papua Merdeka!
Veli Mbele kaSompisi is an afrocentric essayist and cofounder of the afrocentric think-tank Mutapa.RE

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