Benny Wenda: On July 1, remember a milestone in our struggle

July 1 is a very important anniversary for every West Papuan. On this day in 1971, the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), led by Jacob Prai and Seth Rumkorem, declared the establishment of the sovereign state of West Papua. This Proklamasi Kemerdekaan (Independence Proclamation) is a milestone in the journey towards our goal: the total liberation of West Papua from the colonial rule of Indonesia.

To all my people back home: happy anniversary. We must remember all those who have fought to win our freedom. One day their sacrifices will be honoured in our victory against the oppressor. We must remember this and every other declaration made by our freedom fighters from the First Papuan Peoples Congress in 1961 to Dr. Thomas Wainggai’s declaration in 1988 to the Saralana Declaration of 2014. They are all legitimate and heroic steps in our historic struggle against the illegal occupation of our country by Indonesia in 1963, and the fraudulent forced ‘vote’ carried out by the Indonesian military in 1969.

To achieve independence, we must unite as ONE people, in ONE spirit, with ONE soul. Unity is the key to our success, the key to ending decades of exploitation, killing and torture. Our enemy, the colonial power, has tried to divide us for 50 years. Under the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, we are showing Indonesia and the world that we are unified, strong, and ready to take over our country.

God bless you all.

Benny Wenda