Below is the speech that Interim President Benny Wenda gave at Oxford Town Hall on December 1, 2021.
December 1 is the day the West Papuan nation was born. Sixty years ago today, in 1961, a new nation in the Pacific arose, as the New Guinea Council raised the Morning Star flag for the first time.
This day is significant to all West Papuans. Our nation was born but was taken away from us shortly after by the Indonesian invasion of 1963 (on December 19, 1961 – Operation Trikora). We remember this anniversary today in the spirit of continued resistance to colonialism.
At the same time, we remember the one-year anniversary of the formation of our Provisional Government of West Papua. On this day last year, we formed this Provisional Government to reclaim the sovereign state that was stolen from us.
We have already formed our Temporary Constitution, Provisional Government, cabinet, and Green State Vision for our nation. This elevates our strength to achieve our goal of independence and beyond. The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has always recognised every declaration made by the West Papuan leaders before us. They are all part of the history of our journey. We must maintain our unity. Without unity, we will never achieve our goal.
I want to use this opportunity today to announce that we have formed seven executive regional bodies of the Provisional Government inside our country, representing the seven regions of West Papua. This furthers our governance structure inside the country. This is a big sacrifice for those on the ground. They continue their work despite the dangers they face from the military occupation.
Our Green State Vision is our promise to the world to protect the world’s third-largest rainforest. Our mountains, rivers and forests are being destroyed by Indonesian colonialism. This vision is our commitment to the world that we will end these practices. We make this promise to the international community, that we will implement this vision when we gain our independence. It is time for regional and international leaders at a state level to recognise our government in waiting as the only solution to the problems in West Papua.
I invite all affiliated organisations, inside and outside the country, all our solidarity groups, including Indonesian solidarity groups, to please unite in support of the ULMWP Provisional Government agenda: independence and self-determination. This is the agenda we continue to work towards at every opportunity. We will continue to put pressure on the United Nations and the international community to review what happened in 1969, the fraudulent ‘Act of No Choice’, and to uphold my people’s legal and moral right to self-determination, to choose our own destiny. To our solidarity, to everyone who is listening today, please respect our constitution as we follow it all the way to our freedom. For 50 years Indonesia has seen us as separatists, 1 as NGOs, as divided, but today we are standing tall, united against our common enemy.
It is time for the people of Indonesia to recognise our struggle and our right to form an independent nation, just like you freed yourself from Dutch colonialism years ago. Indonesian citizens living in West Papua I guarantee you that West Papua is your home – feel free to pray and support us. I’m asking Indonesia government to recognise our call to peacefully end this. We don’t want to see any bloodshed anymore. That’s why we are now coming together to form this Provisional Government. You don’t need to worry about an independent West Papua – we will be a peaceful neighbour for a long time to come. We are asking peacefully, not with the bullet, not with the bomb or the bloodshed, but through a peaceful international mechanism.
This city, Oxford, is where we founded the Free West Papua Campaign in 2004. We have gone from activists to forming a Provisional Government. This a long way to come, and British Peoples , British Government the local people of Oxford, Lord Mayors, Greens, Lib Dems, and Labour parties have been there with us all the way. Your support and contributions have helped us reach this point, where we have a government-in-waiting. This City has witnessed many historic moments in our struggle.
Our Morning Star flag was recognised by the British, Netherlands and Australia in 1961. They were part of it at the beginning. That’s why we’re holding these flag raisings in each of these countries today.
We have made tremendous progress. In 2014, hosted by the Vanuatu government, we formed the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. In 2015, we gained Observer Status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. In 2019, 18 countries in the Pacific Islands Forum and 81 countries in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States recognised our struggle and called for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed into West Papua. Today, 84 countries in total have called for the High Commissioner to be granted access so the UN can finally see what is really happening in my homeland. We continue to work with Vanuatu and other states to get resolutions at the Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly.
On this day we also cannot forget the thousands of refugees displaced from their own land, in Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, Maybrat, Oxibil and elsewhere. Tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes, their schools, their churches, and their gardens by Indonesian military operations. Young children have been shot dead, women have given birth in the bush, people are hungry and in need of medical assistance in the middle of a pandemic. Just last week, another 30 people fled across the border into PNG, joining the 200 refugees from Oxsibil last month. This is a crisis happening under the eye of our Melanesian leaders. The Provisional 2 Government is ready to engage with the Indonesian government and the international community to end this for good through a peaceful solution.
Thank you to the people of West Papua who have prayed for all of us all these years. Thank you to the religious leaders who have supported us, particularly Pacific Council of Churches and the West Papua Council of Churches that is behind the movement – please continue to pray for us.
I want to give thanks to the Chairman of West Papua Legislative Council, Buchtar Tabuni and Jonah Wenda, to the Judicative Council and to Prime Minister Edison Waromi. You have endorsed all our recent milestones, our constitution, government, cabinet, and vision. We are proving to the world and to Indonesia that we are ready to govern our own affairs.
Every West Papuan, inside our occupied country, in exile, in the bush, or in the refugee camps, we must unite in one spirit to achieve our freedom from Indonesian colonialism. Whoever acts outside of the ULWMP constitution is prolonging the suffering of our people. Disunity will only delay our freedom, delay our energy, and delay our time. The ULMWP is a symbol of unity, guided by our constitution, and I invite everyone to maintain this unity.
Thank you to all the solidarity groups in the Pacific who are tirelessly supporting the campaign, and in Europe, Australia, Africa, Caribbean, all parts of the world where you are supporting our struggle. Thank you to the unification committee in Vanuatu and the Vanuatu people and government for their support to liberate us from colonialism. We look forward to the Melanesian leaders granting our application for full membership of the MSG. There is no space for colonialism on Planet Earth today, we need to end it.
Through this anniversary, we remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for the good of our struggle. We remember you. We will continue to fight in unity for your memory. We must stay strong and determined. Independence is coming. One day we will be free to walk our mountains and rivers without fear of Indonesian military bullets or beatings by police. Our Morning Star flag will fly freely, alongside the other independent countries of the Pacific. We will join our rightful place at the table of nations.
Happy 60th anniversary. God bless you all.
ULMWP Provisional Government