August 15, 1962 is a day of betrayal for us West Papuans. This is the day a secret deal was done between the United States, Indonesia and the Netherlands, deciding our future without any consultation with the people of West Papua. This secret deal was done without a single West Papuan in the room.

This deal led to the Indonesian invasion of 1963, sanctioned by the big powers. The secret deal contained a proviso: that there be a referendum, one person one vote, to decide the long-term future of West Papua. But it never happened. The 1969 Act of No Choice was a fraud. Our right to self-determination remains stolen from us by Indonesia.

I’m calling on all my people in West Papua, in exile, in a refugee camp, wherever you are: do not join the Indonesian independence day celebrations on August 17. This is not our independence day. Our independence day is December 1, 1961, an independence and sovereignty snatched from us by the Indonesian military. We have our own constitution, our own Provisional Government, our own interim President.

We know that Indonesian security services will go door to door trying to force West Papuans to raise the Indonesian flag. We do not want to celebrate your flag in West Papua. Under the name of the Indonesian flag, many of my people have been killed. Indonesia must respect our rights; you cannot force my people to raise your flag.

We must hold a day of mourning on August 15 to remember what has been done to us. Due to this Covid crisis, we must stay at home this year. If you can safely hold a prayer meeting in your village, do so, but remember that Covid-19 is a killer. We must be safe.

The Indonesian government must begin to rectify this history by releasing all political prisoners, including Victor Yeimo, spokesperson of the KNPB, and Frans Wasini, of the ULMWP Provisional Government. Their condition is worrying, due to their unfair treatment. They are at risk of dying in prison if nothing is done. Indonesia must also allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua as a matter of urgency, to show the world what is really happening to my people.

We will never forget the act of betrayal of August 15, 1962, the beginning of the bloodshed, the root cause of our problems. We will never continue fighting until we regain our right to self-determination through an internationally-mediated referendum on independence.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government