The United Liberation Movement for West Papua during the major summit in Port Vila has elected the exiled independence activist Benny Wenda as its new leader.
Mr Wenda replaces Octo Mote at the head of the premier organisation advancing Papuan independence from Indonesia, reports RNZI. “The committee has changed the structure and the by-laws, and it’s like a mini constitution for our organisation. So that’s why we change to new leadership,” Benny Wenda said.
Earlier this year Mr Wenda presented a petition to the UN decolonisation committee claiming 1.8 million signatures from Papua calling for an independence vote.
“This petition is coming from the people inside (Papua) to the decolonisation committee. But the next step is up to them. Because West Papua is not listed on the decolonisation committee, it’s an independent kind of petition. So because for the last fifty years, we’ve been trying to lobby the decolonisation committee because West Papua used to be on the decolonisation committee list. But when Indonesia took over, they removed (us) from that list. So that’s what we did, and we did our best. And of course, diplomatically, the protocal, not through that mechanism, but we independently deliver,” Mr Wenda explained.
“We want to show that this leadership, we’re ready to take our own country. But at the same time, Indonesia will look at it that way, but we are fighting for our right to self-determination. We are fighting, not destroying the Indonesian unitary state of the republic. Indonesia is illegally occupying it. That is the problem, that’s the issue. That’s why Indonesia should know their presence in West Papua is illegal under international law. we have not occupied their country, like Java or Sulawesi. We are talking about our land, our culture and our identity, and our right to be free.”