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WEST PAPUA: Deported Benny Wenda was on 'thank you' mission to PNG


West Papua's Benny Wenda at Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport yesterday before being deported. Image: PNG Loop

Friday, March 27, 2015

Item: 9185

Joy Kisselpar
PORT MORESBY (PNG Loop/Pacific Media Watch): West Papua roving ambassador Benny Wenda says he came to Papua New Guinea to personally thank Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for voicing concern and support for the West Papuan struggle.

Wenda made these comments while he was being escorted into the international airport to be deported from Papua New Guinea..

Appointed as the spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in 2014, Wenda said it was the first time a PNG Prime Minister had spoken about support for West Papua.

“The Prime Minister spoke about West Papua last month, that is why I came here personally to thank  him and secondly we want to explain West Papua have come together to gain our country from Indonesia,” he said.

“I respect the laws and I will leave but my spirit and the struggle is already a Papua New Guinea struggle. It’s not only a West Papua struggle and it is also a Melanesian struggle,” Wenda told reporters.

Later, in a message on social media, Wenda said he believed he had been deported as a result of a "misunderstanding”.

“I respect the wishes of the Papua New Guinea government. I think the visa issue is a technical matter and I am confident that it will be resolved so that I can return to Papua New Guinea," he said on Free West Papua Media Alerts.

Wenda said although he had been deported, he left behind his spirit to fight for West Papua with Papua New Guineans.

Wenda flew into the country on Tuesday but was detained on grounds he did not have a valid visa.

He was supposed to have met with the secretary-general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua Octovianus Mote, who flew into PNG from the United States.

Governor's invitation
Mote told PNG Loop they were here on invitation from NCD Governor Powes Parkop and were supposed to have met with Prime Minister O’Neill to express their gratitude for his vocal concern and support.

Wenda lives in exile in the United Kingdom. In 2003 he was granted political asylum by the British government following his escape from custody while on trial.

He has acted as special representative of the Papuan people in the British Parliament, United Nations and European Parliament.

In 2013, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with West Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma for their lifetime’s work in struggling for peace, freedom and justice for West Papua.

In 2014, he was appointed as spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), a new organisation uniting the three main political organisations struggling for the independence of West Papua.

'A misunderstanding', says Benny Wenda

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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