Freedom of Oxford awarded to Benny Wenda PDF Afdrukken E-mailadres
zondag 14 juli 2019 06:23


Dear friend of West Papua,
It gives us great pleasure to share news that Free West Papua Campaign founder Benny Wenda is to be awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City at a special meeting being held at Oxford Town Hall, UK on 17th July.
The Freedom is the highest honour the City of Oxford can bestow and is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Sir Roger Bannister, Colin Dexter and Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Craig Simmons said: “It is my great honour as Lord Mayor to both propose and award Honorary Freedom of the City to Benny Wenda. It is a well-deserved accolade for someone who sought asylum and sanctuary in Oxford and who, along with his family, is now contributing so much both locally and on the international stage.”
Benny Wenda has lived in Oxford with his wife and children since being granted political asylum by the British Government in 2003. The city is also home to the Free West Papua Campaign's office, which was officially opened by the then Lord Mayor of Oxford Mohammed Abbasi in 2013.
Benny Wenda has acted as special representative of the Papuan people in the UK Parliament, United Nations and European Parliament. In 2017 he was appointed Chairman 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. An award-winning documentary about Benny Wenda's life and campaigning works was recently released too.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “Ever since Benny Wenda made Oxford his home and base for campaigning for the people of West Papua, Oxford residents and the City Council have taken his cause for their own. We are delighted to give this honour to an Oxford resident who has campaigned so tirelessly on behalf of his people.”
Benny Wenda said: “I thank Oxford City Council and people of Oxford for their generosity and support in conveying this award. When I escaped from an Indonesian prison in West Papua in 2002, Oxford was one of the first places in the world that welcomed me and my family. I was given asylum in the UK and have made Oxford my home. Oxford was one of the first to hear the cry of the West Papuan people for justice, human rights and self-determination and this award shows that the people of Oxford are listening and responding.”