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West Papuan campaigner tells of life of struggle against Indonesian rule

West Papuan activist Benny Wenda with human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson at the Auckland public meeting last night. The "banned" West Papuan flag is in the background. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

West Papuan activist Benny Wenda with human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson at the Auckland public meeting last night. The “banned” West Papuan flag is in the background. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By the PMC news desk

West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda spoke of his people’s harrowing five decades of struggle against Indonesian rule at a public meeting in Auckland last night.

Dressed in a ceremonial Papuan headdress, he was also joined by human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, a spokesperson for International Lawyers for West Papua, who spoke about Indonesian legal violations.

Members of the audience in Ponsonby’s St Columba community centre strongly condemned the New Zealand ban on Wenda from speaking at Parliament about the West Papuan plight.

Speaker David Carter reportedly said it’s “not appropriate” for Wenda to hold a public forum at Parliament. He gave no further explanation.

Wenda was stunned by the decision and told a Papua New Guinean journalist, Henry Yamo, who interviewed him at the Pacific Media Centre yesterday that the West Papuan issue was gaining wider attention globally.

Wenda was once arrested by Indonesian forces for promoting the independence of West Papua. He escaped jail a decade ago and was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom.

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