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CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: By Benny Wenda

As 2022 draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who has supported the West Papuan struggle this year. To our worldwide solidarity groups, including those within Indonesia, to Alex Sobel and the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), the International Lawyers for West Papua, to our friends in the Basque Country and Catalonia, the Pacific Conference of Churches, the government of Vanuatu and all our supporters in the Pacific: my deepest thanks.  

The struggle for West Papuan liberation is a struggle for humanity, dignity, and fundamental rights. By supporting us, you are making history in the fight against modern day colonialism. 

2022 was a difficult year for West Papua. We lost great fighters and leaders like Filep Karma, Jonah Wenda, and Jacob Prai. Sixty-one years since the fraudulent Act of No Choice, our people continue to suffer under Indonesian’s colonial occupation.

Indonesia continues to kill West Papuans with impunity, as shown by the recent acquittal of the only suspect tried for the “Bloody Paniai’” massacre of 2014. 

Every corner of our country is now scarred by Indonesian militarisation. This month, nearly 100 West Papuans on Yapen Island were displaced from their villages by a sudden wave of military operations. Along with tens of thousands of West Papuans displaced since 2019, they will be forced to spend Christmas in the forest, as refugees in their own lands.

We continue to demand that Indonesia withdraw their military from West Papua in order to allow civilians to peacefully return to their homes.  

At the same time, support for the ULMWP and for West Papuan independence has continued to grow. Our voice is being heard — nearly half the world’s nations have now urged Indonesia to facilitate a UN Human Rights visit to West Papua, including the member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, the EU Commission, Netherlands and the UK.

In July, we signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding with our Melanesian brothers and sisters in Kanaky, strengthening the bonds of friendship and solidarity that have always connected our two movements.

In October, countries including Australia, Canada, and the US called for immediate investigation of rights abuses in West Papua at the UN, while the Marshall Islands called for West Papuan self-determination. Throughout the year, we have continued to build up our infrastructure on the ground.

We are ready to reclaim the sovereignty that was stolen from us and govern our own affairs. 

To all West Papuans, whether in exile, prison, in the bush or the refugee camps, I say your day will come. Though the road to freedom is long and hard, we are making incredible progress at all levels.

One day soon we will celebrate Christmas in an independent West Papua. Until then, we must be strong and united in our struggle. As our national motto says, we are One People with One Soul. 

To everyone around the world reading this message, I urge you to remain steadfast in your support for West Papua. Please pray for all West Papuans who cannot celebrate this Christmas, whether in Yapen Island, Nduga, Puncak Jaya, or elsewhere. Until we win our freedom, we need your solidarity.  

On behalf of the ULMWP and the people of West Papua, thank you and Merry Christmas. 

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government

United Liberation Movement for West Papua solidarity workers in London, United Kingdom
United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) solidarity workers in London, United Kingdom. Image: ULMWP
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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

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