West Papua independence group slams French ‘modern-day colonialism’

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ULMWP president Benny Wenda
ULMWP president Benny Wenda . . . celebrating the signing of an MOU with the FLNKS in 2022. Roch Wamytan (left, partially obscured), President of New Caledonia's Congress, is also at the table. Image: ULMWP

Asia Pacific Report

A West Papuan independence group has condemned French “modern-day colonialism in action” in Kanaky New Caledonia and urged indigenous leaders to “fight on”.

In a statement to the Kanak pro-independence leadership, exiled United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) president Benny Wenda said the proposed electoral changes being debated in the French Parliament would “fatally damage Kanaky’s right to self-determination”.

He said the ULMWP was following events closely and sent its deepest sympathy and support to the Kanak struggle.

“Never give up. Never surrender. Fight until you are free,” he said.

“Though the journey is long, one day our flags will be raised alongside one another on liberated Melanesian soil, and the people of West Papua and Kanaky will celebrate their independence together.”

Speaking on behalf of the people of West Papua, Wenda said he sent condolences to the families of those whose lives have been lost since the current crisis began — seven people have been killed so far, four of them Kanak.

“This crisis is one chapter in a long occupation and self-determination struggle going back hundreds of years,” Wenda said in his statement.

‘We are standing with you’
“You are not alone — the people of West Papua, Melanesia and the wider Pacific are standing with you.”

“I have always maintained that the Kanak struggle is the West Papuan struggle, and the West Papuan struggle is the Kanak struggle.

“Our bond is special because we share an experience that most colonised nations have already overcome. Colonialism may have ended in Africa and the Caribbean, but in the Pacific it still exists.”

Wenda said he was proud to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the FLNKS [Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front] in 2022.

“We are one Melanesian family, and I hope all Melanesian leaders will make clear statements of support for the FLNKS’ current struggle against France.

“I also hope that our brothers and sisters across the Pacific — Micronesia and Polynesia included — stand up and show solidarity for Kanaky in their time of need.

“The world is watching. Will the Pacific speak out with one unified voice against modern-day colonialism being inflicted on their neighbours?”

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