On behalf of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the people of West Papua, I would like to wish all West Papuans and all international supporters a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

2017 has been an incredibly important and eventful year for West Papua and our struggle for freedom. We have seen the unity of our struggle, both inside and outside West Papua driving forward incredible momentum for our cause. Not only have we seen more and more countries standing up for our right to self-determination at the United Nations, but we have seen a wave of growing awareness and solidarity at all levels, from across the world.

However, 2017 has also been a year of great hardship and suffering for West Papua. While our cries for freedom get only louder, the response of the Indonesian government has become only more brutal and we have seen the human rights situation get only worse and worse under President Jokowi. He does not represent West Papuans and his government and military have no right to illegally occupy West Papua, where over 500,000 people have already been killed.

The Indonesian government knows they have already failed. They know they are losing control of West Papua and are resorting to mass terror, incarceration and “economic diplomacy” in an attempt to desperately cling onto their colonial legacy. We will not be provoked, and we will not give up our struggle for freedom.

Most importantly in 2017, we the people of West Papua have overwhelmingly made our aspirations and demands clear within the incredible West Papuan People’s Petition. This historic petition is blessed with the very spirit of the West Papuan nation. It represents our very bones and our lifeblood, our blood which has been shed in our long struggle for freedom. This petition represents the future of the West Papuan people. In 2018 and beyond, with this petition we will show the United Nations and the world the 1.8 million voices inside; the voices of those who are crying out to be free on in our land, in our own country.

2018 will be an incredibly important year in the history of West Papua. As we now move from a national level to an international level, the voice of the West Papuan people will be heard by the entire world. It is time for the world to acknowledge our history of betrayal in the 1969 Act of NO Choice, to acknowledge our fundamental right to self-determination and to hear our cries for freedom. Some big progresses and exciting times are set to take place internationally for West Papua in 2018 and the years ahead. We must all stay positive and confident for the future.

On behalf of the ULMWP, I would like to thank the people of West Papua for your incredible unity, strength and bravery. Your hard work and discipline is making West Papua’s history, and bringing our nation towards reaching our destiny of full freedom and independence. You are all the true heroes of our freedom struggle and your incredible spirit will liberate our nation. We know that West Papua will rise from the ashes of colonialism and become a free and independent nation at last.

Therefore, I urge all the people of West Papua to remain strong and remain united and peaceful. We are proud Melanesians and Pacific Islanders and as our national motto reads, we are One People, One Soul. From the mountains to the coasts and from the islands to the forests, we are one nation with one destiny. Whether you are Christian or Muslim or of any religion, we will continue to move forwards together as One People with One Soul, in love and compassion. The hope and spirit of the nation is with us all.

In 2017, we have made great progresses in the unification of our struggle and the unification of our nation in the face of Indonesia’s brutal state oppression and terror. Our colonial enemy is trying to work hard to divide and rule us, but enough is enough. We will continue to stay united and work together under the banner of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. I urge all groups and factions, both inside and outside the country to unite as one voice to end the suffering in West Papua. Let us lwork together and look forward together for a brighter future in freedom.

I would also like to thank the people of Indonesia who are increasingly speaking out against the brutal occupation of West Papua. We are truly grateful at the brave actions of Indonesians who are standing up, protesting and even getting arrested alongside West Papuans. This is a historic moment in the free West Papua struggle and on behalf of the people of West Papua, I appeal to the good people of Indonesia in 2018 and onward to continue to show solidarity with us and support our fundamental rights to self-determination and nationhood. These are the same rights that you enjoy today. I also urge you to find out about the true history of West Papua and see for yourselves that we are struggling to be free from colonialism today, just like Indonesia struggled to be free from colonialism in the 20th century.

Our struggle is not against the Indonesian people but against the system of colonialism and racism that continues to keep West Papua under military occupation for the sake of profit. We are human beings just like you. After West Papua is independent and free, I am fully confident that we can be good neighbours with Indonesia.

I would also like to thank all our supporters around the world for their incredible solidarity and support for West Papua. Your outstanding effort has done so much to help us to move far along the long road to freedom. You are the voices of the people of West Papua and our very future depends on your love and compassion. On behalf of the people of West Papua, I appeal to all supporters and every solidarity group to keep up your amazing support in 2018 and onward. You will live to see the fruits of your incredible work. When West Papua is finally free at last, you will be proud that you stood up for what you knew was right.

As Chairperson of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, I am truly honoured to lead my people. Under my leadership, I look forward to working with you all; everyone in West Papua and everyone in solidarity around the world. Let us unite and work together to end the suffering and to bring about a peaceful solution, a Free West Papua.

Christmas is a time for joy, happiness and hope. During Christmas, I think of the West Papuan people who will not have the chance to spend it in peace with their families; such as political prisoners in jail, our tireless elders in the jungle and the thousands of West Papuan refugees. My heart, mind and prayers are with you all. Know that you are never forgotten but that you and your incredible spirit will always continue to be remembered. This fight is not an easy fight, it is a long journey. We must stay confident and know in our heart that one day we will be free. We can do it. We will do it.

Once again on behalf of the ULMWP and the people of West Papua, I would like to wish you all a truly Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. There will come a time when we all celebrate Christmas and New Year in a Free West Papua.

My warmest wishes and blessings with you all.

Benny Wenda
West Papuan Independence Leader
Chairperson of the Untied Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)