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West Papuan independence leader to visit NZ

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Benny Wenda, charismatic spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and tribal leader, will visit Aotearoa New Zealand from 8 to 16 May. He is seeking support for justice for the people of West Papua and New Zealand’s backing for the breakthrough Pacific-nation West Papua initiatives at the UN.

Last time Benny Wenda came here in 2013, he was banned by Speaker David Carter from speaking in Parliament buildings. But now a much larger group of cross-party parliamentarians are supporting West Papua so he is guaranteed a warm reception from M.P.s.

Benny will be welcomed to Orakei Marae on arrival and invited to address Ngati Whatua Orakei whanau. A packed schedule of meetings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Te Tai Tokerau follows.

Benny Wenda was arrested in 2002 on trumped up charges, he was tortured and held in solitary confinement until he made a daring escape. Benny was granted political asylum in the UK, and nowadays, he is a tireless advocate for his people.

Recently, seven Pacific Island nations - Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Palau, Marshall Islands, and Nauru - collectively made powerful human rights representations to the United Nations General Assembly and the Geneva based Human Rights Council. This has created a new momentum for high-level UN involvement in a just resolution of West Papuan rights. So it is time for New Zealand to get off the sidelines, offer its support to these Pacific nations and put maximum effort into helping the people of West Papua in their struggle for justice.

Since 1963 when Indonesian rule began, West Papuans have suffered from ongoing human rights abuses, killings, torture, beatings, military and police intimidation, and gross neglect of basic services. Last year thousands of young people were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations and some still face severe penalties under Indonesia’s outdated and draconian treason and incitement laws.

Benny will meet with the new wave of Maori and Pasifika activists in Aotearoa as well as New Zealand members of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP).

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