West Papuan sovereignty advocate
WEST PAPUA/VANUATU | 1947–2020
Andy grew up in the beautiful land of West Papua, only to witness much conflict and sadness. “It broke my heart to see my fellow West Papuans being displaced from their land and being victims of Indonesian brutality,” Andy said.
He became determined for justice, thinking, “Nobody should ever have to put up with abuse, discrimination and hatred; not a single human”. Andy realised that his school curriculum avoided topics about human rights and cultural diversity. Inequalities were ignored by the dominant colonial culture and political system.
Andy turned his vision for justice into music. His band, The Black Brothers, sang popular songs about the Melanesian experiences in West Papua. “We sang about indigenous rights and the injustices in the West Papuan region,” he said. “We sang to tell Indonesia we will not let them control our land.” Papua Merdeka (Free the people, free the land!) soon became the rallying call for West Papuan sovereignty. The penalty for uttering these words was a gun to the head.
Despite topping Indonesia’s musical charts, The Black Brothers became an enemy of the Indonesian Government. Hunted by security forces, the band was forced into exile. Vanuatu became Andy’s home, while other members found refuge in the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Australia. “We couldn’t go home. We would be arrested for speaking the truth,” Andy said.
Andy continued to advocate globally for a free West Papua, including taking the case to the United Nations, until he passed away in 2020. “Always be yourself!” he said. “Vanuatu’s children have their identity, cultures and traditions. Grow up to become a Melanesian warrior for culture, peace, love and freedom.”
“Always remember that you are a Melanesian.
These stories are from the Vanuatu Children’s Book “Taf Tumas! Different Journeys, Once People.”
Author : Georgilla Worwor
Artist : Andrew Bunyan