Catherine Delahunty

Benny Wenda’s Freedom Tour a great success

by Catherine Delahunty

This week Benny Wenda from ‘Free West Papua’ and Jennifer Robinson of International lawyers for West Papua brought the “Freedom Tour” to Auckland and Wellington.

The Auckland day was hosted by the hard working “Indonesian Human Rights Committee.”

Wellington also went very well despite the lack of co-operation from the new Speaker David Carter and the predictable refusal to meet Benny Wenda from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Jennifer Robinson and Benny Wenda at the media briefing

The media forum which was effectively banned from parliament was well attended and only a robot would have not have been moved by Benny Wenda’s story of his childhood under Indonesian military rule and his experiences in prison.

Benny also stole our hearts with his musical performance while Jennifer Robinson laid out the political and legal position with great clarity. The call for independence for West Papua is clearly a call for peaceful change and respect for all citizens.

The international legal case against the colonisation of West Papua is simple. The Indonesians justified their occupation by a bogus referendum of about 1000 people at the point of a gun, the United Nations stood by while West Papua was appropriated for gold, timber and empire by Indonesia.

The situation today remains a disaster with state violence, hunger, political killing and torture and no access by international media or the International Red Cross. Benny Wenda initiated the International parliamentarians for West Papua a group of which I am a proud member as arer number of Green MPs locally and internationally. He is relying on our solidarity to keep the pressure on Indonesian for a peaceful dialogue.

It was great having MPs Maryan Street and Hone Harawira supporting the Wellington visit and showing their commitment to this issue being brought to light despite the appalling decisions by the Speaker and the Minsiter of Foreign Affairs.

Mana leader Hone Harawira and Labour MP Maryan Street join Benny Wenda, Jennifer Robinson and Catherine Delahunty on parliament’s steps.

It was also great to meet Dominic Brown maker of the film “Forgotten Bird of Paradise” made undercover in West papua who is travelling with Benny Wenda.

With some serious media coverage this week I am hopeful more New Zealanders have now heard of the situation in  West Papua and will support the Green challenge to the Government to work for a peace dialogue between west Papuan leaders and the Indonesian Government.

Published in Featured | Justice & Democracy by Catherine Delahunty on Wed, February 13th, 2013   

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