Open Letter from Benny Wenda to the Pacific Islands Forum

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Yesterday, Benny Wenda wrote this letter to the Secretary General, Leaders and People of the Pacific Islands Forum, following the welcome announcement from the Forum that West Papua was to be discussed a regional priority. On behalf of the people of West Papua, Benny Wenda is calling on the Pacific Islands Forum to please remember their fellow Pacific Islanders in West Papua, and to please support the West Papuan people’s peaceful campaign for Self-Determination and Independence.

Dear Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor and all the leaders and people of the Pacific Islands Forum,

I would like to greet you in my traditional Melanesian language, wa wa wa.

My name is Benny Wenda, I am a West Papuan Independence Leader and the Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

I am writing this letter on behalf of my people as a cry to our dear fellow Pacific Island brothers and sisters. During this time of great suffering in our Pacific Island Nation, we West Papuans are desperately seeking the help and guidance of our Pacific Island family.

West Papua is an integral part of the Pacific, yet we feel lost under increasingly severe Indonesian Government repression against us. Though we were divided with a land border by the colonial powers, there is only the Pacific Ocean between us; not separating us but uniting and connecting us as Pacific Island people to one another.

We West Papuans were some of the founding members of the Pacific Islands Commission when West Papua was once on the road to independence but in 1969; the Indonesian government illegally annexed West Papua to get hold of our natural resources. They denied us our fundamental right to self-determination even though the United Nations promised us an independence referendum for all West Papuans. Even today, we have still not had our right to self-determination fulfilled and because we are Pacific Islanders and not Indonesian, the Indonesian authorities treat us as subhuman.

For over 50 years, we have lived under an illegal Indonesian occupation which has resulted in the brutal genocide of Pacific Islanders in which over half a million Melanesian West Papuans have been killed. Only last week, 2 West Papuan youths were brutally murdered and at least 5 others seriously injured by rampaging Indonesian soldiers at a church service. We are not safe living under Indonesian occupation and it is predicted that soon there will be no more Pacific Islanders left in West Papua.

That is why we are praying and calling for the support of our dear fellow Pacific Islanders to help us in our desperate struggle for our fundamental right to self-determination. There are not many Pacific Islanders in this world; we must all come together and work as one Pacific family to protect our island nations which we all love so dearly.

For reasons still unknown, I was suddenly prevented from travelling to Papua New Guinea to be with you all this month but I want to send a message that even though I am not there physically with you, my spirit will always be in the Pacific with my people and with you all as our Greater Pacific family.

On this very island you are now on, just across this colonial made border my people are at this moment demonstrating in their thousands; in the cities, in the jungle, on islands and in villages to call upon our Pacific Island family and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to please support us and not forget our long suffering and plight.

My trust is always with you, the people of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia and I know that you as fellow Pacific Islanders will do the right thing. In the Pacific, you are the voice of your people in West Papua who are not free to talk and I am sure that you will also help to send the message to our leaders to please not ignore the suffering and genocide of your brothers and sisters.

On behalf of our people, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is calling on our Pacific Island leaders to please form a high level Pacific Islands From delegation with which to undertake a fact finding mission investigating the human rights abuses in West Papua; and to strongly urge the United Nations to appoint a special envoy on human rights to West Papua.

We are calling on our Pacific Island leaders to please welcome us back into the Pacific family and help us to have our fundamental right to self-determination fulfilled at last, including through helping West Papua’s re-inscription to the UN Decolonization list. As Pacific Island Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said last month when referring to West Papua, “The Sub-Committee acknowledged the Forum’s history and regional role in assisting territories achieve self-determination,”

On behalf of the people of West Papua, I would sincerely like to thank Secretary Dame Meg Taylor, the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism and everyone for all their strong support and Pacific Solidarity for West Papua.

I also would like to thank and commend the incredible support and true goodwill already shown to us by our Pacific Island Leaders, the Pacific Conference of Churches, PIANGO, many other individuals and organisations and most importantly our fellow Pacific Island people themselves who continue to show us so much love, care, Pacific Solidarity and support. One day, we West Papuans are sure that we will all join hand in hand in freedom across this Pacific Ocean with our brothers and sisters, and as one Pacific family.

Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia; we are one Pacific family and for the sake of our region it is so essential for us to come together as one family; to help one another and progress forwards together.

Please help to support our suffering Pacific Island people of West Papua; we are fully confident and full of faith that our good leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum will do so.

On behalf of the people of West Papua,

Thank you all very much

Warmest regards and wishes,

Benny Wenda
West Papuan independence Leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)