Magazine article New Internationalist

Five Decades of Defiance

Magazine article New Internationalist

Five Decades of Defiance

Article excerpt

If you've never heard of West Papua, you're not alone.

It continues to amaze me how this 50-year freedom struggle on the world's second-largest island is still so little-known. But then, I might not have heard of it myself if it wasn't for Benny Wenda.

Wenda, an Indigenous leader from the Lani tribe, was arrested by the Indonesian government in 2002 for peacefully advocating for West Papuan independence. Imprisoned on spurious charges, tortured and likely to be killed, he escaped from prison and reached the UK, where he gained political asylum here in Oxford.

An accomplished strategist and diplomat with a gentle, unassuming style, Wenda has spent years building international support for his people's cause. From Oxford, he launched the Free West Papua campaign, which is the reason why I and many others have now heard of this struggle.

New Internationalist got there before me. …

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