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ULMWP President Benny Wenda’s speech in Scottish Parliament

Below is the speech that ULMWP President Benny Wenda gave in the Scottish Parliament on May 9th 2024.

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First of all, I would like to thank Bill Kidd for hosting this launch event. Your hospitality is appreciated by the West Papuan people. People from across all seven regions of West Papua have gathered in support of this meeting. Standing behind us in our struggle for self-determination will not be forgotten when we are free.

As I speak to you now, West Papuans are living under a shadow. We are scared of the future under new Indonesian President, the war criminal Prabowo Subianto. For West Papuans, this means the ghost of the dictator Suharto is back. Prabowo has never been held accountable or punished for his atrocities in East Timor and West Papua. He has committed massacres and never apologised. In his campaign, he said that he will pursue a military approach in West Papua. We know that the situation will only get under this rule.

West Papua needs short-term friends and long-term friends. We hope that Scottish Parliamentarian can join the Interantional Parliamentarians for West Papua and add their voice to the growing cry for a UN Human Rights visit to West Papua. We have been isolated and voice for a long time and we need supporters to speak for us. Just like the Basque and Catalan Parliaments, we hope the Scottish Parliament can make their own call for a UN visit to West Papua.

We last held a meeting in the Scottish Parliament in 2010, and I also came to Glasgow in 2014 to witness the Independence Referendum. Even though there were strong differences between Scottish people, the referendum was a shining example of true democracy and self-determination. There was no violence. No one was forced to vote one way. No one was threatened. I saw this referendum as a beacon of hope that my people are fighting for.

Indonesia claims that West Papua let go of its sovereignty in 1969 with the Act of Free Choice – what Papuans call the Act of No Choice. This is a lie. The Act of No Choice was a fraud. Indonesia handpicked 1026 West Papuans and forced them to vote against independence on behalf of over 800,000. They were threatened with death, with having their tongues cut out, and dropped from helicopters onto their villages if they refused.

Even the UN official who oversaw the Act of No Choice said it was a whitewash. West Papua has never exercised its right to self-determination. Instead, we have suffered 60 years of military occupation. Since then, over 500,000 West Papuans have been killed. This is a hidden genocide.

West Papua also needs friends because Indonesia has closed our land to the outside world. For sixty years, journalists have been barred from seeing what is really happening with their own eyes. The BBC, France24, ABC: they are all banned. Indonesia also bans NGOs and aid workers from assisting West Papuans. But most crazy of all is that Indonesia bans the UN while sitting on the UN human rights council.

It has been six years since Indonesia first invited the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. More than 100 countries have demanded the UN visit, including the Pacific Islands Forum, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, and the European Commission.

But Indonesia continues to refuse. Since then, over 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes. They are refugees in their own land. Over 75,000 West Papuans remain displaced to this day. They are living in the bush, without adequate supplies of water, food and medicine.

In West Papua, there are two crimes: genocide and ecocide. Just as Indonesia kills us, they also kill our forest, poison our rivers, and destroy our mountains. Indonesia already operates the Freeport mine, the biggest gold mine in the entire world. The mine has destroyed the ancestral land of the Amungme people and poisoned the Ajkwa river.

Now, a huge new gold mine the size of Jakarta is being built, called Wabu Block. Since 2018, BP has also expanded the Tangguh gas field. One gas field in West Papua will now provide 35% of Indonesia’s gas. This is modern day colonialism in action.

West Papua is ready to govern its own affairs. Through the ULMWP we have our own governing structure, we have our constitution, our cabinet, and our governing structure, with seven regional Executives. We have held our first democratic Congress last year, where the people decided on their own leaders. Through the Congress resolutions we have a full mandate for our agenda.

We also have our Green State Vision for an independent West Papua free from ecocidal development. The Green State Vision is our promise to the world. The West Papuan rainforest is a lung of the world – the third largest rainforest on earth, after the Amazon and the Congo. We need to protect it. Without our rainforest in West Papua, you cannot fight climate change in Scotland.

Thank you again for hosting me and for supporting West Papua. Please stand behind us and support a UN visit. You can be the voice of the voiceless people.

Benny Wenda
President
ULMWP

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