For more than two decades, Benny Wenda, a West Papuan liberation leader exiled in the UK, has been fighting for the province’s independence from Indonesian rule.
After years of seeing his calls for West Papua’s liberation fall on deaf ears, however, on Tuesday, Mr Wenda and other leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), took matters into their own hands, declaring a provisional “government-in-waiting” for the contested province, with Mr Wenda nominated as its “interim president”.
The announcement, which came as West Papuans observed the province’s “independence day,” or the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961, marks a significant step in West Papuans’ fight for liberation - a battle that has spanned decades after Indonesia took military control of the province in 1962.
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