Herman Wainggai at Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival in Los Angeles
West Papua Action Network
PRESS RELEASE MAY 25, 2016 LOS ANGELES CA USA
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and UN Representative of the West Papuan people, Herman Wainggai, is in Los Angeles CA today to participate in the Indigenous Peoples Film Festival, Garifuna. Two films about the West Papuan struggle will appear in the film festival this year. West Papua: Journey to Freedom by Erin Morris of Melanesian Canoe Production Team and West Papua: A Hidden Genocide by Sam Gollob and Josh Leong, (www.joshlongstudios.weebly.com), feature Mr. Wainggai and he will speak to audiences about the West Papuan struggle for self-determination at the screening this Saturday morning 10:00 AM on May 28th, 2016.
Mr. Wainggai, who is one of the leaders of the West Papuan Self Determination Struggle, is a former political prisoner Indonesian government and is now a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University. He flew to Los Angeles fresh from representing the West Papuan people at the 2016 session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Below is his report on the session at the UN:
Every year since 2007, the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous people holds meetings to discuss issues that are important to indigenous people of the world. It is an opportunity for us West Papuans to express our views and concerns, and to remind the United Nations of what happened more than five decades ago in West Papua under the New York Agreement (NYA), which was signed on August 15, 1962, and continued on in 1969 under the sham election known as the ‘Act of Free choice’.
The result of this betrayal is the colonial occupation of our people and the destruction of our lands and natural resources. Our people were denied the “One man one vote,” which was agreed on in the New York Agreement (NYA). It is our duty to remind the UN of this history when we get the chance.
The UNPFIII focuses on three things that affect indigenous people across the world: conflict, peace, and resolution. It gives indigenous people from around the world a voice – an opportunity to raise their concerns about issues and conflicts facing them in their own countries.
I and other representatives of our people in West Papua attended these meetings at the UN headquarter in New York city, urging the UN body to review the mistakes of the past and understand why we West Papuans have been fighting against the illegal occupation of our lands till today. And to recommend to the UN peaceful solutions based on international laws. We reminded them that as long as our concerns are not being addressed, the struggles against imperialism will continue, which means more human rights violations against our people will continue.
For me, it was the third time I have attended these UNPFII meetings since its inception in 2007, working and lobbying hard to gain support for the struggle of my people. Most importantly, I took this opportunity to talk about the root causes of the conflict back home in West Papua and to remind the UN that all we want is freedom from colonialism. We want “self-determination,” which is our right to determine our own future; our own destiny. Our people have been fighting for their freedom for many years and even if they are outnumbered and faced military dictatorship, our struggle will continue; it will not stop until we are free.