Below is a full version of the speech that Interim President Benny Wenda gave during an International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) meeting in the UK Parliament on 14th June 2022:
On behalf of the Provisional Government and people of West Papua, I would like to thank Alex Sobel MP for hosting this event about human rights and self-determination in West Papua. I would also like to thank the UK Government for calling on Indonesia to allow the UN High Commissioner to visit West Papua.
I will begin by asking for a minute’s silence for two important West Papuan political figures who have recently passed away. Jacob Prai, one of the founding father’s of the Free Papua Movement, and Pangkrasia Yeem, who was a ULMWP Executive Member and a member of the national parliament in Merauke region. They fought for West Papua freedom and spoke against injustice for their whole life. We are mourning their loss, but their commitment to our struggle inspires us to carry on fighting for their dream of merdeka, national liberation.
Over the last few months we have been successfully highlighting the human rights situation in West Papua.We have had a number of meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, in this Parliament, in the Spanish Parliament, in the Dutch Parliament. This was the first time in the history of our struggle that the voice of the people of West Papua was heard in the Parliament of our former colonial power. We also launched the EU branch of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the European Parliament.
With every meeting momentum for a UN High Commissioner visit has grown. The UK has joined 79 states in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, and 18 states in the Pacific Islands Forum in calling for this visit. The EU Commission supports the visit, as do the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and Spain. That is why we are here today, to give our unified international call for a visit by the UN High Commissioner for human rights to West Papua.
Thousands of West Papuans are marching in support of this meeting. Their support is dangerous, they could be arrested by Indonesia just for protesting. But every event like this brings them hope, because they know their struggle is being heard by the world. I am here to represent them as the Interim President of our Provisional Government.
Indonesia tells the world they protect human rights in West Papua, but this is a lie. Because of Indonesia’s military occupation West Papuans have become refugees in their own country. This is happening across West Papua, in Nduga, in Intan Jaya, in Maybrat, in Oksibil. Their homes have been occupied, their churches have been burned, their children can’t go to school because the military occupies their school buildings. Everyone is scared: some people have fled into the bush, others have crossed the border into Papua New Guinea. 100,000 West Papuan civilians have been displaced by Indonesian military operations in the past three years alone.
There are no human rights in West Papua, and no freedom of expression either. Indonesia charges political prisoners with treason if they call for freedom. Victor Yeimo, spokesperson for the KNPB, faces life in prison just for peacefully calling for a referendum. Eight Papua students have been held since December and face 20 years in prison. What was their crime? Simply demonstrating with homemade Morning Star flags. Even the Governor of West Papua, the long hand of Jakarta in West Papua, is harassed when he tries to make life easier for West Papuans. The Head of the Regency of Mimika has also been harassed and accused of corruption just for trying to build churches for civilians there. How can Indonesia hope to build trust with Regency Heads when they behave like this? Likewise, I have seen media reports and videos showing Indonesian harassment of the West Papua Council of Churches. This must also stop immediately.
Indonesia tells the world they are developing West Papua, but this is a lie. It is not development but destruction. Destruction of our mountain, our forest, our tribal culture. Military operations continue in Intan Jaya because Indonesia is building a gold mine there, Wabu Block. They are building the trans Papua highway through our rainforest because they want to take our natural resources. Instead of this environmental destruction, the world must support our Green State Vision, which offers a future for all of humanity.
For years, we have been screaming and shouting that Indonesia has been bombing us, we have shown the world the bombs they have dropped on us, but we have been ignored. Now we have proof that Indonesia is secretly bombing West Papua with ammunition they have bought in Europe. A report from Conflict Armament Research has shown that Indonesia is converting weapons bought from Serbia that were meant for civilian use. Just like they misuse EU funds to enforce their illegal occupation through Special Autonomy, Indonesia also misuses European weapons to kill my people. The UN has shown that Indonesia deliberately targets women and children. They are fighting an illegal war against West Papua.
As the Interim President of the ULMWP Provisional Government I make the following demands:
- First, Indonesia must allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West papua. The Chinese government recently allowed the High Commissioner to investigate human rights abuses against Uyghurs. Why has Indonesia not done the same?
- Second, the Indonesian military must immediately withdraw from West Papua.
- Third, Indonesia must allow international media into West Papua. They must show the world the genocide they have been hiding for 60 years.
- Fourth, we demand that the UK and EU stop all investments in West Papua until Indonesia allows the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into the territory.
- Finally, Indonesian President Jokowi must sit down with me to discuss an internationally mediated independence referendum. I have called for this since 2019. I reiterate my call again now. An independence referendum is the only possible peaceful solution to this issue.
A referendum is not just my demand. This demand also comes from the West Papua Council of Churches, who represent all four branches of Christianity in West Papua. As we showed when we presented our independence petition to the UN, which was signed by over 1.8 million West Papua civilians, this demand comes from all of West Papua.
Our people have unity in the fight for independence, despite Indonesia’s tactic of divide and rule. We are asking you to support our fight, support our self determination, support our human rights.
Thank you very much.
ULMWP Provisional Government