Benny Wenda Admits Instructing Papuans to Skip August 17 Ceremony



Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, said he issued a circular containing instructions that Papuans should not take part in the August 17 Independence Day ceremony.

    "I did issue a circular a few weeks before Indonesia's independence celebration. I called on Papuans not to participate in the ceremony. But the action in Surabaya that spread to Papua was spontaneous. It was the Papuans who acted," Benny Wenda said, as quoted by Tempo Magazine.

    According to Benny, the incident was a foothold towards Papuan independence.

    "I knew the will come. This is the moment we have been waiting for. The sentiment (for independence) has lived for a long time. The Papuan people are united because of this momentum," he said.

    Benny said what happens in Papua is colonialism, where he claims public space is limited.

    "Everywhere there is intelligence, military, police. We are intimidated every day. In Papua, there is no democratic space like that enjoyed by other islands. It is better if we separate from Indonesia. We are ready for independence," he said.

    The fact that the government has been trying to realize justice in Papua by building infrastructure, said Benny, is not what the people want.

    "We don't see the development as benefiting the Papuan people. What we want is no more murder, no more persecution, no more discrimination," he said.

    Benny Wenda now lives in Oxford, England. He was charged with mobilizing a mob to burn down a police station in 2002. The chairman of the Koteka Community Consultative Council crossed the border to Papua New Guinea before obtaining political asylum from Britain in 2003.