Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
A West Papuan group seeking self-determination has greeted Papua New Guinea on its 46th anniversary of independence, predicting that one day the artificial colonial border separating the two would “fall like the Berlin Wall”.
“Happy 46th independence anniversary to Papua New Guinea. We send a message of solidarity from your brothers on the other half of New Guinea,” said interim president Benny Wenda of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
“We are there with you in spirit for this great celebration.
“I know that one day all of New Guinea, from Sorong to Samarai, will celebrate true independence and enjoy God’s creation on our green island. This is our long-term dream.
“With one half unfree, our island is not complete.
“We are one island, with one ancestor. Just because a colonial border separates us, does not mean we are destined to be apart forever.
“One day this artificial line will fall like the Berlin Wall, bringing our people together once more.”
Wenda said in a statement it was in “my heart’s dream to see elders from each half of the island meet and watch their grandchildren dance together in peace like the Bird of Paradise”.
He said Papuans continued to dream of liberating the people of West Papua from tyranny, 21st colonialism imposed by the Indonesian government.
“You have reached your 46th year of sovereignty – we have been fighting for the last 58 years for independence and freedom,” said Wenda.
“We will pray for your celebrations and thank the forefathers who liberated PNG.”
On the other side of the island, said Wenda, Papuans still struggled for their freedom, but their forefathers had already set their destiny.
“Now the new generation, in West Papua and PNG, must fight to liberate the rest of New Guinea,” he said.
“One day we will join these independence celebrations hand-in-hand, with the Morning Star [banned in Indonesia] raised alongside the PNG flag. We will stand together and celebrate together.”
While Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975, West Papuans declared independence in 1961 but this was overturned in a non-democratic referendum in 1969 — the so-called Act of Free Choice — after Indonesian paratroopers had invaded Papua, then a colony of The Netherlands.