On Monday, 27th June 2016 at approximately 5pm local time (WIT) in Nabire, West Papua, Owen Pekei, an 18 year old student, was shot dead by members of the notorious special forces unit Detachment 88. Local witnesses say Pekei was chased by at least 3 vehicles full of heavily armed police after he was seen with a noken bag with the outlawed pro-independence Morning Star flag on it. Pekei was shot several times in the head and died outside the new city complex. The local police force has refused to answer any questions from local media concerning the incident.
I didn’t know where Nabire, West Papua was until I consulted a map a minute ago, chances are you’ve never hear of it. Like you, I also never knew Owen existed until I saw he’d been shot dead.
On this occasion I feel moved, I have questions no one will answer, I’m frustrated and angry at the injustice of the situation. I’m driven mad at how there never seem to be any answers, how officials dodge questions, the media are silenced and barred from the province and how politicians aren't interested in finding a solution.
How is this allowed to happen?! What is the mind-set of the people who carry out these actions? What can we do against such reckless hate?
This was a senseless act, one that robbed a young man of his life, and the Pekei family of their son.
Unfortunately, Owen’s case isn’t unique; hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have been killed in what has been called a “Slow motion genocide”. Today in West Papua, thousands live in fear for their lives, are subject to daily racism, harassment by police, and subject to torture, and rape.
It’s for these people that we swim. The people you never ‘know’ until they’ve been attacked and killed. People whose names you’ll never hear, hands you’ll never shake. For West Papuans who have the odds stacked against them and the boot of an oppressor at their neck.
We swim for people like Owen, to raise awarness of the injustice his family face. We are swimming in the hope that one day the West Papuan people can be free, free from fear, free to raise their national flag without facing a 15 year prison sentence.
We swim to expose the greed and corruption which has resulted in the over 50 years of mass killings, torture, rape, kidnapping, and forced disappearances. We swim for an Internationally Supervised Vote for West Papua.
We swim for a Free West Papua.
Add your voice, #BackTheSwim and help #LetWestPapuaVote! Sign the petition NOW!