Benny Wenda

I woke this morning to hear a name I recognised on the news, listed as a wanted man by Interpol. I first photographed Benny Wenda at a protest opposite Downing St against biofuels in April 2008.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

There are several more pictures of him and his companions on that page, along with a series of captions which read:

  • Musicians from the Free West Papua Campaign
  • Benny Wenda , Chairman of Demmak – the Papuan Peoples’ Tribal Assembly, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Indonesian solders for his part in leading a peaceful independence movement, but manged to escape and come to the UK.
  • West Papua was invaded by Indonesia 3 months after it gained independence from the Dutch
  • West Papua is the left hand half of Papua, the large island above Australia on the globe

The final caption was perhaps the only time I’ve found a photographic use for the Campaign against Climate Change’s inflated globe in a greenhouse, which has always seemed at other protests a visual embarrassment however conceptually appropriate it may be. For once I was pleased to have it there, and made sure that Mr Wenda’s uke was strategically positioned for the picture.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

On Friday 14 Aug, 2009 I photographed Benny Wenda again at a protest opposite the Netherlands Embassy in London marking the anniversary of ‘The Day of the Broken Promise‘, 15 August 1962. Then I wrote a much longer piece which you can read there on My London Diary, as well of course as taking more pictures. There were few journalists present and I think I was the only photographer who attended the event.

© 2009, Peter Marshall

© 2009 Peter Marshall
A man from the Netherlands Assembly takes a letter from Benny Wenda.

I’ve often said that the whole world comes to London, and this was another example (though Mr Wenda actually lives in Oxford.) I sincerely hope that our government will act to prevent Interpol carrying out this politically motivated extradition.

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