WEST PAPUAN military factions have united under the political leadership of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), in a historic declaration announced today.
The Vanimo Border Declaration, which sees three groups come together as the West Papuan Army, was hailed as a major step toward West Papua’s bid to become an independent nation state.
The ULMWP, formed in 2014, is leading the struggle for the independence of West Papua. It comprises the two westernmost peninsulas of the island of New Guinea, which were annexed by Indonesia in 1969.
This followed a “fake referendum” where a handpicked group of 1,022 Papuans were coerced into ratifying the Indonesian occupation through the so-called Act of Free Choice.
Earlier this year the Indonesian army was accused of human rights violations against the people of West Papua. These include the use of chemical weapons as part of a major offensive to crush the independence movement.
Over 500,000 people are believed to have been killed since Indonesian forces moved in to West Papua in 1969.
ULMWP spokesman Benny Wenda welcomed the signing of the declaration and said it showed the rest of the world that the people are “ready to form an independent West Papua.”
“The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country. We welcome any assistance in helping us achieve our liberation. Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals any more. We are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting.
“I’m calling for my people abroad, in Indonesia, and particularly inside West Papua, to support this declaration and unite,” he said.