Benny Wenda

The President of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)Benny Wenda has highlighted the ongoing struggles faced by tens of thousands of West Papuans due to what he described as Indonesian genocidal violence, colonialism, and corporate greed.

In his Christmas message, Wenda gieve over West Papuans who, instead of celebrating Christmas with family and friends, find themselves spending the festive period as refugees in their own ancestral lands.

Approximately 80,000 West Papuans remain internally displaced, lacking basic necessities such as food, water, medical facilities, and educational resources for their children. The situation is exacerbated by the recent deployment of additional Indonesian troops, including the notorious Brimob unit, to the region.

“I pray that God will look after all Papuan refugees this festive period,” Wenda said in a statement, acknowledging the dire humanitarian crisis that has left numerous West Papuans unable to return to their homes due to the presence of occupying Indonesian soldiers.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Wenda extended gratitude to global solidarity groups and the Free West Papua campaign teams in the Netherlands, the UK, the United States, and the Pacific for their continuous support.

He also thanked the West Papua Council of Churches, the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC), and civil society organisations in the Pacific for their prayers and practical solidarity.

Acknowledging the historic first ULMWP Congress held in November, Wenda emphasised its significance as a milestone in the struggle for West Papuan independence.

Wenda said he was honoured at being chosen as ULMWP President by the 5,000 Papuans who gathered in Jayapura, symbolising a unified commitment to their movement.

Wenda called upon all West Papuans to rally behind the ULMWP, emphasising the importance of staying focused on their roadmap, including gaining full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), securing a UN visit to West Papua, and ultimately achieving an internationally mediated self-determination referendum.

In addressing the global community, Wenda highlighted the recent support from Melanesian leaders who issued a communique calling for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed into West Papua.

He urged Indonesia to heed the demands of Melanesian leaders, stressing the need for a UN visit before the next MSG meeting in April 2024.

Despite the challenges faced in 2023, Wenda expressed confidence that 2024 would be a successful year for the West Papuan independence cause.