Back to All Events

West Papua: The Secret War in Asia by Benny Wenda (West Papuan Independence Leader)

  • Wharton Room, All Souls College Oxford, OX1 4AL (map)

The people of West Papua are suffering what has been described as a ‘slow-motion’ genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military. Since 1969, West Papua has been under Indonesian occupation, and suffered the systematic killing of over 500,000 of its indigenous population. Promised its original independence from the Dutch in 1963, West Papua’s incorporation into Indonesia followed in 1969, after what was widely acknowledged to be a sham referendum, engineered by the by the economic interest of the Indonesian government. The colonised territory is rich in gold, copper, natural gas, forests and fisheries from which the indigenous population see little, to no benefit.
‘The so-called Act of Free Choice consisted of 1026 people being forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Suharto's Indonesia’ Lord Harries, former Bishop of Oxford and co-chair of the All-party parliamentary group on West Papua.

The Free West Papua Campaign was established by Benny Wenda and his wife Maria, to peacefully campaign for West Papuans’ right to self-determination and to bring to an end to the appalling human rights abuses suffered by their people. The Free West Papua Campaign also includes the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) and has recently established an APPG in Parliament.

Benny Wenda is a West Papuan independence leader, International Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign. He lives in exile in the United Kingdom. In 2003 he was granted political asylum by the British Government following his escape from custody while on trial in West Papua. In 2011, the Indonesian Government issued an International Arrest Warrant for Benny through Interpol. This move was widely regarded as an attempt to silence Benny and prevent him from travelling overseas to campaign for West Papua self-determination. Fair Trials International led an appeal to have the Red Notice removed so that Benny could once again travel freely. Benny has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2013 and 2014), for his life time devotion to a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in West Papua.