Today, August 15th, marks sixty years since West Papua was betrayed. On this day in 1962, my people’s future was snatched from us by men in New York, without a single West Papuan present.

The New York Agreement was a secret deal signed by three colonial powers, the United States, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. It produced the Indonesian invasion of 1963, the start of our occupation and the beginning of our anguish. But the deal also contained a stipulation for a UN referendum, in which the people of West Papua would decide our own destiny. A fair referendum never arrived: the 1969 Act of No Choice was a sham, with just over 1000 people intimidated into staying with Indonesia. West Papuans are still waiting to fulfill our right to self-determination, six decades later.

Today we mourn our betrayal, and the hundreds of thousands of West Papuans killed, tortured, and imprisoned under Indonesian occupation. But we must also commit ourselves to strengthening our struggle for liberation. On behalf of the Provisional Government, I am calling on all West Papuans – in the cities, in exile, in the refugee camps, or fighting in the bush – to refuse to celebrate Indonesian Independence day on August 17th. Do not raise their flag. We have our own flag, our own Independence Day, which we are ready to celebrate when our sovereignty is finally delivered.

To the world, I say: help us right the great wrong of 1962 and achieve our independence. With our Provisional Government, our Cabinet offices, our Ministers and our army, we are ready to take charge of our own affairs. To Indonesia, I say: you must allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua, to show the world what you are doing to my people.

August 15th, 1962, will always be a day of sorrow for us West Papuans. It is very painful to think of all the indigenous Melanesian people who lost their lives under Indonesian rule. But we will never accept occupation: I am calling on my people not to take part in Indonesia’s independence celebrations. We are instead mourning the killing and displacement of West Papuans in Nduga, Oksibil, Maybrat and elsewhere.

We will keep fighting until there is self-determination, a fair and internationally mediated referendum, until we win independence. Our time will come.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government