Benny Wenda, West Papuan Independence Leader, speaks at Wits Education Campus, hosted by Equal Education - Suara Wiyaimana Papua
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Benny Wenda, West Papuan Independence Leader, speaks at Wits Education Campus, hosted by Equal Education

Written By Suara Wiyaimana Papua on Rabu, 18 Februari 2015 | Rabu, Februari 18, 2015

Benny Wenda Free West Papua Campaign In South Africa
Equal Education invites the public to hear West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda speak at Wits Education Campus (Parktown), Bohlaleng Block, Seminar Room B45, Tuesday 17 February, 13h00 to 14h00.
Benny Wenda is representing The Free West Papua Campaign, and giving public lectures in Cape Town, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Durban in February.

Together with West Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma, Wenda was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. This is the second year in a row that Wenda has been nominated.

“When I was a child my village was bombed by the Indonesian military and many of my family were killed. Later, I began to campaign peacefully to free my country from Indonesian occupation. For this ‘crime’ I was arrested, tortured and threatened with death. I managed to escape to the UK, where I now live in exile. My people are still suffering. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, raped and tortured. All we want is to live without fear and for West Papua to become a free and independent country,” explains Wenda.

His leg was injured by an Indonesian aircraft attack on his village which left him with pain and difficulty walking for the rest of his life. Later, he became leader of the ‘Koteka Assembly’ and assumed a central role as leader of the campaign for Papuan independence. In 2002 he was arrested and detained in solitary confinement by Indonesian police. He managed to escape and sought asylum in the UK, where he now lives with his wife and children. In 2004 Benny Wenda founded the Free West Papua Campaign. In 2014 he was appointed as the spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), a new organisation uniting the three main political organisations struggling for the independence of West Papua.

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea and smaller islands to its west. Since the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration from the Netherlands New Guinea in 1962, the implementation of Indonesian governance in 1963 and the formal absorption of West Papua into Indonesia in 1969, the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a militant Papuan-independence organisation, conducted a low-level guerrilla war against the Indonesian state, targeting the Indonesian military and police. West Papuans have also conducted various peaceful protests and flag-raising ceremonies for independence or federation with Papua New Guinea, and accuse the Indonesian government of indiscriminate violence and of suppressing their freedom of expression. Many West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian military since 1969 and the Indonesian governance style has been compared to that of a police state, suppressing freedom of political association and political expression. The Indonesian Government restricts foreign access to West Papua.
The international solidarity movement has expanded from a core of volunteers into a network of activists, lawyers, and parliamentarians. They have permanent offices in Oxford (UK), The Hague (Netherlands), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Perth (Australia). Benny Wenda launched the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) at Westminster Abbey in 2008, and has since followed with events in the European Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and in South America. Benny is head of DeMMak, a pan-tribal assembly in West Papua which works for independence

The leadership comes from Papuan representatives in the UK, and in West Papua itself. IPWP is supported by 100 MPs and MEPs who are committed to supporting Benny Wenda’s peaceful advocacy for self-determination and peace in West Papua. He has spoken at some of the world’s leading universities and has travelled around the world to publicise the plight of his people. Funding comes from donations, the sale of merchandise, public fundraising events and grants from charitable foundations.

“The people of West Papua have been denied their basic human rights including the right to self-determination. Their cry for justice has fallen largely on deaf ears. I will keep them in my prayers in their hour of need,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The aim of the campaign is to give the people of West Papua the freedom to choose their own destiny through a fair and transparent referendum. 

Wits Education Campus (Parktown), seminar room B45 (Bohlaleng Block), Tuesday 17 February, 13h00 to 14h00.

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