in the Summer of ‘62

The Statue of Liberty: Was she blind-folded in 1962?
The Statue of Liberty: Was she blind-folded in 1962?

Dear everyone,

Almost exactly 53 years ago, on 15th August in 1962, the future of my people’s country West Papua was determined without us by 3 foreign powers. These were: the Netherlands-our former colonial rulers, Indonesia-our current colonial rulers, and the USA-with economic and cold war interests in West Papua.

This so called “New York Agreement” was held behind closed doors in New York under the watchful gaze of the Statue of Liberty. It was held without consultation from ANY West Papuans; we were not allowed at the table, in the room or even in the building.

Imagine a conference on Indian independence without any Indians, or on majority rule for South Africa without any Black South Africans?

West Papuans giving a message to the United Nations ahead of the Act of NO CHOICE in 1969
West Papuans giving a message to the United Nations ahead of the Act of NO CHOICE in 1969

Greedy for our natural resources, the Indonesian government was determined to take control of West Papua and the US government was worried that they would seek support from the Soviet Union. To try and appease Indonesia they effectively forced the Netherlands to give West Papua as a “gift”. This all became official in the New York Agreement despite the fact that the Netherlands was preparing West Papua for full independence and that the West Papuan people had fought off the previous Indonesian invasions.

How can an entire nation be sold for the sake of cold war politics without ANY AGREEMENT from the local people?
The only fairness was that this agreement promised a free and fair referendum on independence for ALL West Papuans within the next few years; the so called “Act of Free Choice”.

However we West Papuans call this the Act of NO Choice because what actually happened was just 1,026 Papuans being hand-picked by the Indonesian government and forced at gunpoint to vote for joining Indonesia.

We West Papuans therefore call 15th August the Day of BROKEN PROMISE because the promise of an independence referendum was BROKEN by the Indonesian government under the nose of the USA, the Netherlands and the UN.

West Papuans being stripped, led away like slaves and tortured by the Indonesian authorities after attending a peaceful pro-independence congress in 2011

We have been under Indonesian occupation ever since and are enduring a brutal genocide with over half a million West Papuans already having been killed. We are killed like animals and treated like slaves just because of the colour of our skin.

My people have resisted this ILLEGAL occupation of our country ever since and we continue to protest against this BROKEN PROMISE of 1962.

We are holding a rally outside the Indonesian Embassy in London on 15th August to remember and reject the effects of this New York Agreement, the Day of Broken Promise.

The rally will be held at 11am outside the Embassy at 38 Grosvenor Square in London and I hope that people all over the world in other international countries will also demonstrate to call for this promise to be fulfilled. Please stand with me and my people in solidarity against the colonialism, genocide and modern day slavery in West Papua.

We will call for the freedom of West Papua and for West Papuans to finally to have our long promised referendum on independence.

NYA FWPC demo. Papuans REFUSE New York Agreement
A previous rally outside the Indonesian Embassy held against the outcome of the New York Agreement

We will never forget the wrongs of the past nor present. Help us to stand for justice and for true freedom to finally come to the nation of West Papua at last.

More information can be found on the Free West Papua Campaign website and the Campaign’s Facebook Page

I look forward to seeing you on 15th August.

Freedom for West Papua!

My warm regards to you all

Benny Wenda
West Papua independence leader
Spokesperson, United Liberation Movement for West Papua.