By Kendall Hutt
AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): A lifelong campaigner for a free and independent West Papua has issued a stark warning to New Zealand politicians as he visits the country this week.
Benny Wenda, a tribal chief of West Papua exiled to the United Kingdom by Indonesia, told Asia Pacific Report that time was running out for West Papua if governments such as New Zealand do not act.
“If we live with Indonesia for another 50 years, we will not be safe. We will not be safe with Indonesia.”
He said the purpose of his visit to New Zealand was to highlight the importance of West Papua returning to its "Melanesian family".
“We really need Pacific Islanders, our sisters and brothers across the Pacific – particularly New Zealand and Australia – to bring West Papua back to its Pacific family. Then we can survive. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to survive with Indonesia,” he said.
Since Indonesia took over West Papua in 1969, following a controversial Act of Free Choice – dubbed by critics as an “Act of no choice” – Wenda said his people had suffered.
“Everyday someone is dead, or has been killed, and someone has been stabbed, but no one is brought to justice.”
Kendall Hutt is contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch.
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