Last year was both terrible and good for the people of West Papua. We continued to suffer incredible repression at the hands of Indonesia, including racism, killing and torture.

Indonesia, however, cannot hide what it is doing any more. In August 2019, 18 countries in the Pacific Islands Forum passed a motion on West Papua, calling for the UN High Commissioner to be allowed in. In December 2019, 79 countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) did the same. The eyes of these countries, nearly a majority of the UN General Assembly members, are now fixed on what is happening in West Papua. Thank you to the Pacific Island Forum leaders and government and people of Vanuatu for your support in passing these resolutions. Indonesia cannot deny what is happening in West Papua now.

Our solidarity networks played a very important role in these victories. Thank you to all of you across the world who supported us. This year please continue to help our struggle in all the ways you have done already, whether you are a musician or artist, sportsperson or ordinary person. Please continue to push your government to support the right to self-determination for the people of West Papua. Your work is crucial.

To my people back home in West Papua I want to send you this message: you are not alone. Even though you have been facing discrimination, violence and imprisonment for 58 years, your time will come. You have sacrificed so much, from the elders in the bush to those in the refugee camps to those in exile. Wherever you are, know with confidence that your cry for justice will not be ignored any longer. The world is finding out about our struggle, and 79 countries are listening.

Let’s unite under our national motto: one people, one soul, one spirit. Always remember this motto. With our strength in unity, 2020 will be a good year for us all. Let’s keep positive and continue to fight to peacefully liberate our country.

To the Indonesian government, I call on you to withdraw your military from West Papua. What has become of your moral obligations, as a member of the United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Melanesian Spearhead Group? You have a moral duty not to chase and kill civilians, women and children, in West Papua. This is what you are doing in Nduga, in Puncak Jaya and Intan Jaya.

It is time now for Indonesia to come to the table. Our position is clear. We have issued our six demands. Once these just and reasonable demands are granted, we are willing to meet with President Jokowi.

To the people and leaders of Indonesia: instead of sending thousands more military and police to our country, let’s use this new year and new decade to find a peaceful solution. You are one of the biggest democracies in the world. In New Caledonia, the French government is allowing the Kanak people to exercise their right to self-determination. The Papua New Guinean government is allowing the people of Bougainville to exercise their right to self-determination. Indonesia must follow the example of these Pacific leaders. When we are a free and peaceful neighbour to Indonesia, you will be proud that you eventually chose to follow the path of justice and freedom.

You cannot solve this issue internally, or through the use of violence. You can only solve this through an internationally-supervised referendum on independence. In 2020, let us come together and address the root causes of this issue for the good of ourselves and the future generations in West Papua and Indonesia.

Happy New Year to all.

Benny Wenda
United Liberation Movement for West Papua