WP Leaders

Left to right: John Tekwie, Benny Wenda and Rex Rumakiek

An expected total of 50 West Papuan Leaders from West Papua and beyond and supporters of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, are going to take part in a walk from Saralana Park to the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs Nakamal this morning, to launch the first West Papua Leaders’ Summit after the first Committee was elected in 2014.

The West Papua United Liberation Movement was formed three years ago in the Chiefs Nakamal.

Following the launch, the Leaders’ Summit is expected to go for a week ending with a flag raising ceremony on December 1.

Asked if coming to Port Vila to attend the Summit is safe, London-based Global Campaigner Benny Wenda replies, “It is not safe but it is the price towards our West Papua struggle for freedom”.

On what it feels like inside knowing that the imminent gathering is preparing to pioneer the way forward to tomorrow, he replies, “For me Port Vila is becoming our home — our shelter because the Government and people are always welcoming us here. We can travel round the world but we are always welcome here in Vanuatu as well as in the Solomon Islands”.

Wenda is confident that the parade today is plotting new history for West Papua’s destiny and sending a message to the world that Vanuatu and its people are committed all the way to make sure that West Papua gains its independence.

Rex Rumakiek, now over 80 years old, still remembers the small beginnings with the initial message delivered by Father Walter Lini (deceased) in his address to the people of East Ambae at Longana People’s Centre on what was then called Aoba in 1983.

“Father Lini reminded the people of the young country that despite the country’s lack of resources but that at the end of the day, everybody had to pray for God’s divine guidance to sustain the people of West Papua to be able to achieve self-determination from Indonesia,” he recalls.

John Tekwie is the former governor of Sandaun Province in Papua New Guinea on the northern border with West Papua.

He is the representative of West Papua in the Pacific.

“I want to thank the Vanuatu Government and its people for being the front runner for West Papua.

“Let me say that the politics of West Papua in PNG is all confused politics.

“The leaders do not really know what to do.

“Do they give their support to our brothers and sisters in West Papua first or do they entertain Indonesia’s political interests?” he says with dilemma.

But he confirms the people of PNG are very supportive of the struggle of the people of West Papua.

There is no problem at all.

“I am talking of politics and let’s leave that to the politicians and let’s move on, to this new part of the final process,” he explains.

“I say the final process because this meeting is critical to finalise the election of the new executives involving a final structure of new political status of the organisation, bringing it to the next level.

“For me I want to see a structure where we now have a government in exile. We cannot be forever campaigning and being advocates of independence forever.

“We have to make a statement, take a definitive and resolute position and move to the next level.

“You see. I’ve been a governor for Sandaun Province on the border for ten years. I understand politics. I am the border man on the corridor between Papua New Guinea and West Papua and am a Vanimo man right on the border.”

He feels the gesture made by the Vanuatu Government and its people to the people of West Papua is a very important thing.

“It is a historic event and we have seen the document and we are waiting for the Prime Minister to announce it when he is ready,” he concludes.

The Public Relations Officer of the Office of the Prime Minister cannot be reached for comment.

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