Inaugural speech of Benny Wenda, new Chairperson of ULMWP

 

WEST PAPUA NATIONAL DAY SPEECH OF CHAIRPERSON BENNY WENDA

 

Vanuatu, 1 December 2017:

 

Wa wa wa wa

 

On behalf of the newly elected leadership of ULMWP, the people of West Papua, the Papuan delegates who have travelled to be here today and our solidarity groups around the world, I would like to thank the people of Vanuatu for allowing us to celebrate our independence day here with you.

 

Today is a significant day for the people of West Papua. Today we celebrate 56 years since we declared our independence from the Dutch and raised our Morning Star flag for the first time. But after all this time, we still do not have our freedom.

 

Today we are so happy to stand with you here on your sacred ground to celebrate our national day as well as the opening of our ULMWP Head Office, thanks to the generosity and solidarity from the Vanuatu government and its people. Today, the people of Vanuatu have made history for West Papua.

 

On behalf of my people, I want to express our solidarity with the people of Vanuatu. We take spirit from your struggle for independence and we thank you for our solidarity in our struggle. We want to thank especially the Unification Committee here in Vanuatu for all of their hard work in supporting us, as well as the Council of Chiefs.

 

As you are aware, this journey has been a long and difficult journey. Quite often, we as Papuans feel that it is only us against the world. But when Vanuatu says “We will stand beside you”, it gives us hope for the future and that one day we will invite you to celebrate with us in West Papua our independence.

 

We also know the challenge ahead of us is huge. Over the last few days we have spent so many hours discussing, sharing and planning for the future of our movement. We are more united than ever. We commit to listening carefully and being accountable to our people on the ground in West Papua. It is from the people of West Papua – and all our solidarity groups around the world – that we gain our strength. Under our new leadership structure, we commit to a strong and unified future because we know this is what is needed for the liberation of our people.  My prayer is that all of those who want to see the liberation of the nation of West Papua will support us in their prayers.

 

Our movement is growing in strength all the time. It is the support of our Pacific neighbours that has helped to drive the momentum we now have – and allowed nations around the world to start to support us on the international stage. Without the support of the Pacific, it would have been difficult to develop this growing international solidarity. Your continued support is essential for our cause and we thank you.

 

As we stand here today celebrating freely our national day and raise the West Papuan flag, I want to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters in West Papua who will do the same, but under threat of violence, arrest and imprisonment. We pay tribute to their courage and we promise to do our utmost to ensure the success of our struggle so that one day we will raise this flag in a free and independent West Papua.

 

Wa wa wa wa

 

Benny Wenda

Chairman

United Liberation Movement for West Papua