Benny Wenda expresses concern over events in West Papua

October 15, 2013

Armed police occupy positions on the route of the rally.

Armed police occupy positions on the route of the rally.

by Benny Wenda

Tomorrow, 16th October 2013, marks the 5th anniversary of the founding of two important groups in the struggle for West Papuan self-determination: International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), and International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP). I will be attending a commemoration of the anniversary at a special event in the British House of Commons, where the IPWP was originally launched.

At the same time, demonstrations are to be held across West Papua both to celebrate the anniversary and to show appreciation for the Vanuatu government, whose Prime Minister raised the issue of West Papuan self-determination at the UN General Assembly in September of this year.

Sadly, the Indonesian police have already made clear their determination to block this legitimate expression of the West Papuan people. Not only have they denied the KNPB permission to hold their rallies, they have also occupied the planned route of the demonstration with 8 vehicles filled with military and police.

None of this will prevent my people from making their voices heard. I hope that the Indonesian government will allow them to express themselves; my worry, however, is that they will attempt a crackdown and arrest those participating. That is why I am calling on the world to keep a close eye on the events in my country tomorrow.