4 Dec 2012

Guyana trip by West Papuan could spark agitational efforts

7:50 pm on 4 December 2012

An MP in Guyana says his country is more focussed on the plight of Indonesia's West Papuan people after a visit to the Carribean country by an exiled West Papuan tribal leader.

The trip coincided with a call by the former President of the UN Security Council, Guyana's Rashleigh Jackson, for international support for West Papuan self-determination.

Johnny Blades reports:

The UK-based Benny Wenda is on a campaign to promote global awareness of the Papuan struggle for independence.

In Guyana he met with the country's President, various parliamentarians and local communities.

He told Guyana's Capitol News Network that the Carribean country has an historical link with the Papuans from when their region was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969.

"Guyana was one of the countries that support West Papuan independence in 1969 in the UN. Guyanese people support every people who are oppressed in other parts of the world so this is something that I am seeking help from people of Guyana and the Guyana government, so that's why I'm here."

Benny Wenda's legal advisor is a UK attorney of Guyanese Heritage, Melinda Janki.

She says his visit was an eye opener for Guyanese:

The interest here has just been amazing. The first reaction that Benny has had from people is: how come we did not know about this, how can we be hearing about the denial to the right of self-determination how can we be hearing about people benig locked up, political prisoners? The first response is really one of shock and then tremendous sympathy.

While in town, Benny Wenda met with representatives from each of the major political parties.

One of the MPs who met with the West Papuan was Desmond Trotman from the APNU, or A Partnership for National Unity.

He says people were impressed by Mr Wenda's sincerity and commitment to the West Papuan struggle.

Well it has been on the radar for some time but since Benny has come here, we have become more focussed on the problems of the West Papuan people. He has been able to explain in a lot of detail the struggles that his people have been going through for quite some time. The people in Guyana have had a history of struggle against colonialists and the colonial empires and of course we will, as individuals and as a collective, we will be very committed to the struggle of the West Papuan people.

Desmond Trotman says there's a lot of agitating Guyana can do on the Papua issue.

This includes pushing within the United Nations on the need for action on supporting West Papuan self-determination.