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When PROTESTERS took to the streets in cities across the world demanding independence, a leader of their cause waved the flag in Oxford’s Carfax.
Benny Wenda, the newly declared president of West Papua’s interim government, lives in exile in Oxford after escaping detention in Indonesia.
Today the West Papuans announced that they would form a « provisional waiting government » for their home region, currently divided into two provinces under the control of Indonesia.
Mr Wenda is leading a campaign called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which aims to transform the provinces into an independent nation without Indonesian rule.
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While protests in support of independence were held in eight cities in Indonesia, Wenda and supporters gathered in central Oxford to raise awareness.
The number of supporters has been deliberately limited and social distancing maintained in order to comply with the rules for gatherings during the current lockdown.
The four that showed up waved the West Papuan flag, known as the Morning Star, which also flew every Jan.. December blows from the top of Oxford Town Hall.
The date is an important day for West Papua, which falls on Jan.. December 1961 declared independence from Dutch colonial rule.
The new government’s declaration was also held on the same day because of its importance.
The Carfax group also handed out cakes labeled “Free West Papua” to passers-by to start discussions on Mr Wenda’s matter.
Sometime in the early morning, two homeless men living in sheltered shelters approached the group to ask for a cake.
After discovering the message on the icing in the treats, they began discussing his cause with the newly appointed president.
In a statement released on the announcement of the new government in West Papua, Wenda said: « Today we honor and recognize all of our ancestors who fought for us and died for us by finally having a unified government waiting have formed.
« We embody the spirit of the people of West Papua and are ready to rule our country. As stated in our provisional constitution, a future Republic of West Papua will be the world’s first green state and a beacon of human rights – the opposite of decades of bloody Indonesian colonization.
« Today we are taking another step towards our dream of a free, independent and liberated West Papua. « »
While Mr Wenda has been named leader of a Free West Papua, the rest of the waiting government has yet to be nominated. This is expected to take place next year.
Mr Wenda was granted political asylum in the UK in 2003 after escaping prison in Indonesia, where he was arrested for leading protests.
He then became the leader of the Free West Papua campaign in Great Britain, which was founded in 2004 by several pro-Papuan activists in Oxford.
When Mr Wenda spoke in front of Carfax Tower yesterday, Mr Wenda said he had come to see Oxford as a « home away from home ». .
He said: « I believe Oxford is my second home and I believe the people of Oxford will support me so that I can return to my home as a free man. « »
Although they declared their independence in 1961, their country was incorporated into Indonesia after a 1969 referendum.
According to Reuters news agency, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry has rejected a declaration by a West Papuan government.
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West Papua, Indonesia, New Guinea, Natives of New Guinea
World News – AU – « President is waiting » of West Papua takes to the streets of Oxford
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