Visit of West Papuan Tribal leader: Benny Wenda
Benny Wenda is s a high profile campaigner for the self-determination of his Melanesian people. Currently based in Britain where he has political asylum he visits New Zealand as part of a world tour.
Benda Wenda speaking in Auckland, Monday 11 February 7.30pm at the St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby.
Wellington Event: Lecture Theatre 1, Old Government Buildings, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University, Wellington 5:30pm
Benny campaigned peacefully for the rights of his people as a tribal leader (Koteka Tribal Assembly) in the highlands of West Papua. His village was bombed by Indonesia when he was a child and many of his family were killed. Arrested for crimes he did not commit in 2002 he was tortured and threatened with death, but succeeded in escaping.
In Britain Benny has headed the Free West Papua Campaign since 2004. He also helped to found the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) . In 2011, the Indonesian Government issued an International Arrest Warrant for Benny through Interpol. This move was widely regarded as an attempt to silence him. Fair Trials International led an appeal to have the Red Notice removed so that he could once again travel freely. In August 2012, in a landmark case Interpol removed the Red Notice, after an investigation concluded that the Indonesian Government had abused the system in a politically motivated attempt to silence Benny.
Prominent British-based human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, a long-term vocal advocate for West Papua will accompany Benny on the Aotearoa leg of his tour.