To my people back home, we must remember May 1 as the day of terror, the start Indonesia’s illegal occupation of West Papua in 1963. This was the beginning of the bloodshed and the suffering of my people that has led to over 500,000 innocent people being killed. This war still continues as I speak – the Indonesian military has displaced around 100,000 Papuans in the past three years alone, according to the UN.

May 1 is also a day of resistance: we announced the cabinet of our Provisional Government on this day in 2021, and the names of our military commanders. Indonesia cannot look at us as terrorists, as criminals, as separatists anymore. We have shown the world that we are ready to engage, that we are ready to govern our own land. The international community must not shy away from us, but must engage with us as the only hope for peace in the region.

The issue of West Papua is in the international public domain now. Indonesia’s actions – ‘Special Autonomy’ and the further partition of West Papua into three provinces – should not distract from the call of over 100 states for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed into our land. The High Commissioner must witness the situation with her own eyes, and decide whose claims are correct: mine, or the Indonesian president’s.

We demand the international community stop investing in West Papua. If you directly or indirectly invest, you are investing in the genocide of my people. Indonesia uses these funds to destroy our mountains and our rivers. All investment must be stopped, at a minimum, until the High Commissioner is allowed in. Big powers, including the UK, Australia and EU, must ensure that she is allowed access before the G20 in Bali at the end of this year.

We do not bow down to Indonesia’s colonial rule; we will peacefully take our country back through an international mechanism and referendum. That has always been our consistent position. As we remember 59 years of illegal occupation, this goal is closer than ever.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government