Benny Wenda: ULMWP Congress a step towards independence

As a leader of the West Papuan liberation movement, I welcome the ULMWP Congress currently taking place in Jayapura. I call on all international media to stand by and await the results of the Congress, which will conclude on Thursday 23rd November with the outcome of the first ever ULMWP Leadership election.

According to our constitution, the Congress is the highest body in our government. If our constitution is to remain our guiding light, we as leaders must acknowledge this Congress and respect the people’s decision. We have never before held a Congress: up until now, our leadership has been rotated among the different ULMWP factions. The five thousand West Papuans who gathered in Port Numbay are affirming their support for our constitution, and demanding that we abide by it.

The Congress is an important milestone on the road to a free West Papua. When the New Guinea Council raised the Morning Star on December 1st 1961, in a ceremony witnessed by Australian, Dutch, French, and British delegations, we were on our way to becoming the first independent Melanesian nation. But our promised sovereignty was cruelly stolen from us by the Indonesian invasion. Our mission is to reclaim that sovereignty. 

With our government, our constitution, and our infrastructure on the ground, we are advancing towards our destiny and showing we are ready for independence. The 1933 Montevideo Convention requires that a nation fulfill four elements to be ready for statehood: a people, territory, government and international recognition. We are progressing on all counts. By gathering in such numbers in Jayapura, the people are showing that they are ready for another essential element of an independent West Papua: democracy. We must remember that this Congress includes representatives from all seven regions of West Papua, all factions of the ULMWP, and all wings of the armed movement. As I said before, the outcome of the Congress is the will of the people. 

I have always represented the people of West Papua, but true representation comes from election. The people are demanding a choice, and we must listen.

God bless West Papua.

Benny Wenda