Prayer events to mark 60 years since West Papuan ‘birth’ in the Pacific

Students proudly wearing "Papua Merdeka - Free Papua" tee-shirts. Image: APR

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

West Papuans will peacefully mark the 60th anniversary of the birth of West Papua next week — on Wednesday, December 1.

It is also the first anniversary of the formation of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) provisional government.

“To my people back home and around the world: this is a very significant and important day for us to remember,” said interim president Benny Wenda in a statement today.

“When the Morning Star [flag] was raised by the New Guinea Council on December 1, 1961, they formed the embryo of the nation.

Interim ULMWP president Benny Wenda
Interim president Benny Wenda during the launch of the Green State Vision policy during COP26. Image: ULMWP

“I call on everyone to celebrate this day through peaceful prayer meetings. To our international solidarity supporters, please use your freedom to show your support for our struggle, wherever you are.

“Special flag raising ceremonies coordinated by the provisional government will take place in PNG, Vanuatu, the Netherlands, and the UK. I also invite Indonesian solidarity and all Indonesian citizens to pray for us and respect our national day, as we have respected your independence day.”

Wenda said that on that day “we will remember people in the bush, particularly the thousands displaced by Indonesian military operations in Intan Jaya, Nduga, Puncak Jaya, Maybrat and Oksibil”.

“We remember the two year old baby killed at the hands of the Indonesian government last month,” he said.

Plea for ‘watchful eye’
Wenda called on the world to keep a watchful eye on any human rights violations  in West Papua on December 1.

“There is often bloodshed carried out by Indonesian military and police. We do not want this – we will be celebrating in a peaceful way,” he said.

“There is no need to harass, intimidate or attack those who are peacefully praying. I call on the Indonesian government and President to leave us alone on our national day. Our time is coming, and one day we will stand side-by-side as good neighbours.

“We will also be celebrating the announcements and progress we have made in the last two years, with our constitution, provisional government, cabinet, and recently our Green State Vision for the nation.

“The ULMWP provisional government has consistently recognised all proclamations made in the history of our struggle by West Papuan leaders before us.

“With these important steps we have made, I encourage my people to come together in one spirit to celebrate and move us closer to our goal of independence and self-determination for all.

“We wish peace on West Papua, on Indonesia, the region and the whole world.”

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