Benny Wenda: Remember Carmel Budiardjo

The people of West Papua have suffered a great loss with the sad death of Carmel Budiardjo. She was a ceaseless friend of our people and our struggle.

Carmel raised awareness about human rights abuses carried out by the Indonesian state, particularly in West Papua, Aceh, East Timor and Maluku. She helped publish one of the first exposes of the genocide in our land, West Papua: The Obliteration of a People. She lived through the changing fortunes of Indonesia, from the Sukarno era to the Suharto regime, and represented the values espoused during the fall of Suharto.She recognised, however, that the reformasi era has not meant the end of colonisation and genocide for the people of West Papua and others under Indonesian rule.

She was truly a warrior for truth and justice, and never tired of speaking out about the situation for my people even whilst big international powers ignored our cry. She has left a great legacy of raising the issue of West Papuan human rights and our right to self-determination all across Europe, particularly in the UK. She constantly raised this issue with the British government, working to build international awareness and pressure against the illegal Indonesian occupation.

Carmel Budiardjo’s legacy will be continued by the next generation in Indonesia, Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere. All those who love peace, justice and democracy can be inspired by her life. I hope that the family and friends she has left behind will continue her work, guided by the example she set. We have lost her, but we will continue speaking out against injustice and for peace for all humanity.

Benny Wenda
Interim President