Fifty-seven years ago to the day, on May 1, 1963, the Indonesian State illegally invaded and occupied my country, West Papua. This anniversary is etched into the heart of every West Papuan. We can never forget this important day, the beginning of the bloodshed, the violation of our sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Half a million of us have died since that day. Half a million, every one with family, a mother, a father, a son, a brother. Every day the illegal Indonesian colonial regime continues, more of us die. Just the other day, I received a report from Sorong: women and children are fleeing a new Indonesian military operation, hiding in the bush whilst Indonesian troops try to hunt down peaceful activists from the KNPB. As West Papua and the world faces the Covid-19 crisis, these vicious Indonesian military operations must cease immediately.

There has never been a better time for Indonesia to leave our country. Politically, militarily, collectively, we are unified, under the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. We have ONE spirit, ONE mission, ONE destiny. That destiny is to liberate ourselves from Indonesian colonialism and to live in peace and independence like any other human being. The only people trying to divide us now are seated in the Indonesian government. Our unity is our strength and our enemy knows it.

We have chosen the peaceful marches of resistance, the dignified road of mass struggle. Indonesia has chosen the shackles of criminalisation, the bullets of repression. We call on Indonesia to choose a different path: to show a willingness to end the conflict by immediately releasing all political prisoners and halting all military operations. We still await a response to our six conditions for a meeting with President Jokowi.

To my people back home, stay strong in this difficult time. Your unity and your strength will prevail, and we will be able to reclaim our nation.

God bless you all.

Benny Wenda