Below is the speech that ULMWP Interim President Benny Wenda gave at the Dutch Parliament hearing on a UN visit to West Papua on February 28th 2024.

First of all, I give my thanks to the Netherlands Parliament for hosting this meeting. As our former coloniser, it is very important that you understand the situation in West Papua and show support for our struggle. Thank you also to Consul Elizabeth van Vliet and Pernando Barrena for speaking today. Thank you to the people of West Papua, who are watching today and rallied in support of this meeting. Thank you to the ULMWP’s Executive, Legislative and Judicative wings, and to the seven regional executives for mandating and supporting our meeting.

The first ULMWP Congress, held last November, issued a people’s mandate for the ULMWP to pursue a UN visit to West Papua as a key part of our agenda. We now have a full mandate for this task.

Altogether, more than 100 separate countries have now demanded that Indonesia allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate in West Papua. Indonesia’s continued refusal to obey this demand is why we are here today.

The election of Prabowo Subianto as Indonesian President is concerning and frightening for West Papua. Let’s be clear: Prabowo is a war criminal. He is complicit in crimes against humanity and in genocide in East Timor and West Papua. He has never apologised or been held accountable for the many atrocities he has been involved in. This is a man who was considered too brutal even for the Indonesian army.

Because of his past, his ideology, and because of statements he made during his election campaign, we have good reason to fear that Prabowo will further escalate the militarisation of West Papua. We are already suffering ecocide and genocide. The situation will only get worse under this murderer.

We have already seen the first atrocity of the new Prabowo era. Last week, the Indonesian military arrested and tortured two Papuan children in Yahukimo. They then took photos with these two innocent children as trophies. Indonesia has repeatedly shown they will target children, the new generation of West Papuans. Torture in West Papua is so common that it has been described as a ‘mode of governance’. With Prabowo as President, there must be a renewed campaign for a UN fact-finding mission in my country. The world must pay attention to our plight. Human rights do not exist in West Papua.

In the six years since Indonesia first invited the UN in, over 100,000 Papuans have been displaced from their homes and made refugees in their own land. Over 75,000 of my people remain displaced to this day. Over one thousand four hundred have been killed.  It is no coincidence that this violence has happened while Indonesia has sent 25,000-30,000 extra troops to occupied West Papua. Even worse, Indonesia has consistently refused to let aid reach the displaced people, meaning that many have died of hunger or thirst in the bush. No UN visit, no aid workers, no journalists allowed. West Papua is becoming the North Korea of the Pacific.

In West Papua, there are two crimes: genocide and ecocide. While the UN is not allowed in, Indonesia has increased its destruction of West Papuan ancestral land, our mountain, river and forest. A huge new gold mine the size of Jakarta is now being built called Wabu Block, while BP has completed its expansion of the Tangguh gas field, which will now provide 35% of Indonesia’s gas. Indonesia has also rejected the tribal land claim in Boven Digoel.

Climate destruction will also continue under Prabowo, whose family have massive mining and palm oil interests in my country. Palm oil is one of the biggest killers in West Papua – a killer of culture, of native forest, of national identity. How can we fight climate change in Europe if Indonesia is destroying the world’s third largest forest in West Papua?

Indonesia have repeatedly shown that simple words of disapproval are not enough. Their police and soldiers act with total impunity in West Papua. If there is no real pressure, they will continue to kill and torture us.

Over 100 countries have now called for this UN visit. This includes the Netherlands, for which I thank you. It also includes the Pacific Islands Forum, OACPS, and the European Commission under Joseph Borrell. And at last year’s MSG Leaders’ meeting the MSG also issued their own communique demanding a visit, with a deadline of the next Leaders’ Meeting in April 2024. That deadline is now only one month away.

Indonesia has clearly blocked international observation of their occupation for years now. They are using delaying tactics and making excuses while ramping up their genocidal rule. We are asking countries like the Netherlands to recognise this and halt their trade and diplomatic dealings with Indonesia until they facilitate a UN visit. Every day the UN is not allowed into West Papua, more of my people will be tortured, arrested and murdered, just like in Yahukimo.

I thank you for inviting me and hearing my people’s cry.

Benny Wenda