West Papuan military factions form unified ‘West Papua Army’ in historic declaration

Photo by Koroi Hawkins/RNZ: West Papua leader Benny Wenda

From the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)

The three main West Papuan military factions announced their unification today, following a historic declaration signed under the auspices of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

For the first time in West Papuan history, the major West Papuan armed groups will unite under one single command, forming the West Papua Army. This ‘Vanimo Border Declaration’ follows five years after the three major political factions united under the ULMWP and moves the country a step closer to forming an independent nation state.

The three groupings joining the West Papua Army – the West Papua Revolutionary Army (TRWP, Tentara Revolusi West Papua), West Papuan National Army (TNPB, Tentara Nasional Papua Barat) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN.PB, Tentara Pembebasan Nasiona Papua Barat) – are committing themselves to one unified command under the political leadership of the ULMWP.

The declaration was signed on May 1, exactly 56 years since Indonesia’s invasion and take-over of West Papua in 1963.

The ULMWP recognises the many declarations that have been issued in the history of the West Papuan struggle, and this one will go down as a historic milestone in the Papuan path to independence.

Benny Wenda, Chairman of the ULMWP, said: ‘The ULMWP is ready to form an independent West Papua. Politically and militarily we are united now.

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 anymore, 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.’

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was formed in December 2014 in Port Vila, Vanuatu, bringing together the three major West Papuan independence groups for the first time since the Indonesian occupation began in 1963.

Since then, the ULMWP has been leading a mass movement on the ground in West Papua and taking the issue of West Papua’s right to self-determination to international fora.

On 25vJanuary 2019, ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda handed the West Papuan People’s Petition, signed by hand, by 1.8 million Papuans, to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

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