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Benny Wenda: West Papua’s path to liberation

Written by: Benny Wenda on 7 June 2024


(Above: In March 2024, a shocking video emerged of Indonesian soldiers torturing a West Papuan man confined in a barrel of freezing water. He was repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed. )

Our near neighbours, the heroic and long-suffering peoples of West Papua, are continuing their fight for liberation from the Indonesian colonising regime. Their struggle has our ongoing support. We are posting a statement from May by their leader Benny Wenda – eds.


President Wenda: The United Liberation Movement for West Papua Agenda is West Papua’s path to liberation 
May 14, 2024 

On behalf of the ULMWP and the people of West Papua, I call on all our supporters to renew your support for West Papua and stand behind our agenda for independence: 

A) A visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; 

B) ULMWP Full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG);

C) An internationally-supervised self-determination referendum. 

The ULMWP has a clear agenda for liberation, and our solidarity groups have a vital role to play in helping us fulfil it. Our agenda has been democratically endorsed by the people of West Papua through the 2023 ULMWP Congress, the first people’s mandate the ULMWP has ever received. When you fight for our agenda, you are fighting for the West Papuan people.

Our solidarity groups, artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, rugby players and other sportspeople, NGOs, Churches, academics, individuals and families, can help by rallying their representatives in Parliament to support a visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As part of our new campaign for a UN visit, we have held meetings in the UK, EU, Dutch and Scottish Parliaments, and launched the Brussels Declaration directly accusing Indonesia of refusing the UN access. The call for a UN visit has gone up across the world, demanded by over 100 UN member states, including all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and the EU Commission.   

Since Indonesia first invited the High Commissioner into West Papua in 2018, over 100,000 Papuan civilians have been displaced by genocidal military operations. At least 1200 Papuans have died, killed by Indonesian soldiers or left to starve in the bush. Many of my people have been tortured or arbitrarily arrested. Indonesia gets away with its crimes with impunity partly because they hide West Papua from the world, banning journalists, NGOs, and international bodies like the UN. To force Indonesia to open West Papua to the world, we need to create even greater public pressure. Solidarity groups can be the voice of the voiceless people. Where we cannot speak, you must speak for us.  

We also need our friends in Melanesia to lobby their leaders and Parliamentarians to do more to support ULMWP full membership of the MSG. The ULMWP gaining full membership is an essential step on the road to peace and justice in the Pacific. Only as full members will we be able to sit across the table from Indonesia and peacefully discuss the status of West Papua on an equal footing. With the war criminal Prabowo Subianto soon to take office as Indonesian President, West Papua needs full membership to defend itself and expose Indonesia’s crimes. Full membership is our guarantee of safety from annihilation. 
Full membership would prove we are a responsible state-in-waiting, ready to manage our own affairs. Like our brothers and sisters in the FLNKS, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), or the Polisario in Western Sahara, we are a political organisation with a cabinet, constitution, and governing structure on the ground. We are ready to take control when our independence arrives.  

The ULMWP is not an NGO: we are not asking Indonesia for internal dialogue, to improve their democracy, or take better care of our forest. West Papua is not an internal matter. We state clearly that all violations of our human rights and environment are rooted in the fundamental and continual violation of our self-determination. Self-determination is the start and the end of our journey. Merdeka is the only answer to our situation.  

To Indonesia, we say that you have nothing to fear from West Papuan independence. We are not fighting to destroy Indonesian sovereignty but simply to reclaim the sovereignty that was stolen in 1961. Our sovereign state was declared that year and recognised by nations including Netherlands, UK, and Australia. It was taken from us and we are fighting to win it back. 

To our people back home, activists, women’s groups, church groups, Indonesian solidarity groups, the Alliance of Papuan Students and KNPB, I ask that you rally behind the ULMWP and the Congress resolutions. We need unity if we are going to defeat our enemy and reclaim our sovereign state. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood behind us in our anti-imperial struggle. Please continue to unite behind us, support our agenda, and support our independence. 

Wa wa wa. Papua Merdeka! 

Benny Wenda


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