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West Papua looks to the West – 29th Nov 2012

He looks very earnest in his quest, he sees himself as the Tribal Leader in exile of Island State West Papau that Indonesia says belongs to Indonesia. The exile Tribal Leader Benny Wenda is adamant that his country West Papua is being occupied by Indonesia and he wants that occupation to stop. Wenda has been in Guyana meeting the President and law makers, lobbying their support.

For the Tribal chief, it may not be that difficult to pull in support. He is ably assisted by a UK attorney of Guyanese Heritage, Ms. Melinda Janki, who has made the West Papua struggle an issue in international law. But it is Wenda, who is out front really championing the cause of his people. He proudly displays the West Papua Flag and knows that Guyana has been supportive for over 40 years.

The genesis of the West Papua independence struggle is rooted in the anti-colonial struggle in the Dutch East Indies. West Papua is on the island with New Guinea and Papuans have never seen themselves as part of Indonesia, so to speak. Indonesia depends on the mineral resources of the island. The tribal leader Wenda has had to live in the UK, travelling on a British passport while championing the cause of Independence, which the West Papuans declared since 1961. Surprisingly the US has not really supported West Papua as a country’s position, but Israel, like Guyana, has been in their corner for years.

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