December 1st must be a ‘Day of Mourning’ for all who died this year


I, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) declare Sunday December 1, 2019, a ‘Day of Mourning’ for all those who have lost their lives in the struggle in the past year.

I call on all the churches inside West Papua and all those in solidarity with us worldwide to hold peaceful prayer gatherings on that Sunday to commemorate all those who have lost their lives over the past 12 months.

We must mourn for the nearly 200 innocent West Papuans who have been killed in Indonesian military operations in Nduga. We must mourn for the 40 or more people, Papuans and migrants, who died during the West Papua Uprising this year. We must mourn for the political prisoners, the Papuan students forced to leave their universities across Indonesia, and the high school students in Wamena still suffering harassment and intimidation.

December 1 is a day of historical significance for West Papuans. On this day in 1961, the West New Guinea Council selected our national flag – the Morning Star – named our country West Papua, and looked forward to independence. We will continue to celebrate December 1 as an anniversary of this historic assertion of our right to self-determination, our right to claim our identity.

It is of utmost importance, whether you are Indigenous West Papuan or a migrant settler, that you join in a silent moment for the people of West Papua on December 1, 2019. Every church, every house, every corner of West Papua must mourn in a show of collective dignity in the face of Indonesian colonial violence. Whether you are a Christian leader or Muslim leader, this will be a day of mourning, and a day of hope for the future.

God bless you all.

Benny Wenda