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West Papuan Leaders join International Solidarity Groups

West Papuan Leaders join forces with International Solidarity Groups in Brisbane

West Papuan leaders of the newly formed United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) including Benny Wenda, Octovianus Mote and Rex Rumakiek met in Brisbane over the weekend with Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand solidarity groups.

As their campaign for full membership for West Papua to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) gains momentum, the ULMWP met to strengthen campaign support for the July MSG meeting in Honiara, where the application for West Papuan membership will be considered.

The newly formed ULMWP, is the coordinating body representing all organisations in the struggle for West Papuan self determination as a unified front.

Over 40 delegates representing 13 West Papuan solidarity groups from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, met in Woollangabba, Brisbane with the ULMWP to network, hear stories and develop resources for the campaign to gain full membership of the MSG for West Papua.

Solidarity groups in attendance included Australian West Papua Association (South Australian Branch), Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane, Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane, Catholic Worker, Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, Free West Papua Campaign (Perth), Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights, Oceania Interrupted, Rize for West Papua Brisbane, Surfers for West Papua and West Papua Action Auckland.

Spokesperson for the ULMWP Benny Wenda, said “This gathering is very significant because this is where the people who have been behind us from the beginning of the campaign until today contribute their ideas. We cannot do this on our own we need everyone to come together to bring West Papua back to the family of Melanesian countries in the Pacific”.

The solidarity groups meeting agreed on pursuing a coordinated strategy of activism with Pacific Island communities, Indigenous and church communities in the lead up to the July MSG meeting.

Mary Joku-Ponifasio West Papuan member of Aotearoa New Zealand based group Oceania Interrupted, said “I encourage Pacific Island women to speak out for the women who are suffering in West Papua and be their voice. We Melanesian women are one family”

“Australian’s and New Zealander’s can play a vital role in supporting the Melanesian Nations in standing up to the regional powers and moving to end the illegal occupation of West Papua.”

“There is growing support for West Papua in our region, and it is vital for all the solidarity groups to work together to support the ULMWP’s efforts to achieve this important step towards freedom for West Papua”, said Peter Arndt, meeting co-organiser and representative of West Papua Solidarity Group Brisbane.

Photo credit: AWPA

“There is now an opportunity to turn this support in to concrete, effective action, by getting the MSG leaders to grant West Papua a voice at the table.”


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