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West Papua Freedom Fighter shares ‘Freedom Tree’ planting experience

Deputy Commander in Chief of the Liberation Army of West Papua, Freddy Warome, planted a “Freedom Tree” outside Presbyterian Church on Malo Island. By: Len Garae

Current Presbyterian Church Elder Freddy Waromi of Paton Memorial Church (PMC) in Port Vila is from Ambae Island in West Papua.

He is also an active Deputy Commander in Chief of the National Liberation Army of West Papua, which continues to remain a headache for the Indonesian soldiers who have been following the evasive Melanesian hit and run soldiers for over 60 years.

Representing his country in Vanuatu, his current position in the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) is as Head of Foreign Mission and is in charge of the ULMWP in Port Vila.

While admiring the calm blue waters of the Seafront of Port Vila Harbour over his cup of Lipton tea, the 70+-year-old whom I refer to as “my wantok” since I come from Ambae Island in PENAMA Province, this time I asked him to comment on a rumour about a “Freedom Tree” he was supposed to have planted outside the Avunatari Church House on Malo Island to mark the Assembly hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) last year.

Waromi confirmed he was asked to plant the tree seedling and our story became interesting, I switched on my digital recorder and the following is the rest of the story.

“I was privileged to have become one of the delegates of more than 700 from throughout the country as well as delegates from partner churches and especially invited guests from within Vanuatu,” he shared.

“The Assembly was launched on June 18{sup}th{/sup}, 2023 and the Assembly Business proceeded the next day.

“I was part of the introduction programme after the Clerk of PCV, Pastor Colin Keleb asked me to briefly introduce the Melanesian Struggle on West Papua for the delegates to hear.

“I introduced myself as an indigenous West Papuan who was born and raised on Ambae Island on the coast of West Papua. I thanked God for His goodness to guide me through the challenges of life all the way across the Pacific Ocean to arrive in Vanuatu, which also has another island also called Ambae.

“I thanked the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Pastor Simon Bani and Pastor Colin Keleb the Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council, as well as the two first born sons of Malo Island who are the Head of State, President Nikenike Vurobaravu and Member of Parliament (MP) Wesley Rasu.

“Immediately after my address, President Vurobaravu who was following the programme on television, called the organisers to convey his gratitude to me for recognising him as an indigenous son of Malo in my remarks. I felt very honoured to receive his words of gratitude.

“I also touched on the roadmap that ULMWP has endorsed for us to follow to achieve our eventual Freedom. I explained that on the road map we are to lobby the Melanesian Spearhead Group of countries to accept ULMWP which represents approximately 3, 000, 000 people to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

“Under this roadmap we are trying to convince MSG to accept our application to become a full member, as well as the members 18 member countries of Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to also accept us to become a full member of PIF.

“Next we are also trying convince those countries which endorsed the Nauru Resolution of 2019, which demanded the United Nations (UN) to send a UN Fact Finding Mission Commissioner to West Papua, to gather firsthand information or reports of human rights atrocities including rapes and killings of Melanesians on the ground.

“And finally ULMWP challenges the UN General Assembly to recognise the Independence Struggle of West Papua.

“In my appeal, I requested the Moderator to allow my humble request for the Assembly to allow a specific Prayer for the Independence Struggle of the people of West Papua.

“The Moderator accepted my request. After lunch I was asked to plant a seedling of a tree outside the Avunatari Presbyterian Church. The Council of Chief of Malo named the tree ‘Freedom Tree of West Papua’ and asked me to plant it.

“At 8 o’clock that night, they asked me to tell them the full story about the struggle for freedom of West Papua which started in 1960.

“I also explained the meaning of the West Papua Flag.

• The star on the flag represents God who is worshipped by all Christian people as the only Sovereign God of West Papua.

• The seven stripes on the flag are the seven different Regions throughout West Papua.

• The white colour represents the peaceful, generous people of West Papua.

• The red colour represents blood and tears which have been flowing from the eyes of the people of West Papua since raising the West Papua Flag for the first time on December 1st of 1960.

“As part of the evening programme, I presented a West Papua flag to the Moderator Pastor Simon Wani and another to the Paramount Chief of Malo Island.”

In the latest development, the Head of Foreign Mission has confirmed that the ULMWP President, Mr. Benny Wenda, who was elected by over 5,000 delegates in Jayapura ULMWP Congress last November, will be present at the European Commission to observe the current request for a UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit West Papua.

In conclusion, he said Mr. Wenda will be paying a courtesy call to Port Vila next month in his present capacity as the newly elected President of ULMWP.

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