It’s been a very long time since Benny Wenda has been home. The well-known Papuan activist claimed political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2002. Today, he lives in the English university city of Oxford—across the world from the lush highlands of West Papua where he was born.

The path that led Benny to the United Kingdom began long before he was even born. Until 1961, West Papua was a Dutch colonial territory. On 1 December 1961, West Papua declared its independence from the Netherlands. Indonesia, however, had claimed West Papua as part of its territory. Following the declaration of independence, it invaded and occupied West Papua. In 1969, it secured United Nations recognition for its claim via a rigged referendum process—the “Act of Free Choice”—where 1,026 tribal leaders, supposedly representing 800,000 Papuans, were forced under severe duress to accept integration into Indonesia. Since then, West Papua has been under de facto Indonesian military rule, and those who resist have experienced surveillance, harassment, imprisonment, and violence.

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Thum Ping Tjin (“PJ”) is Managing Director of New Naratif and a historian at the University of Oxford. A Rhodes Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar, Olympic athlete, and the only Singaporean to swim the English Channel, his work centres on Southeast Asian governance and politics. His most recent work is Living with Myths in Singapore (Ethos: 2017, co-edited with Loh Kah Seng and Jack Chia). Reach him at

Hasbi Ilman is a comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer from Indonesia. He's also editor-in-chief of Jurnalis Komik (, an independent alternative media platform that centers comics journalism. For more of his work, see

Febriana Firdaus is an independent investigative journalist whose major focus is reporting the struggle for self-determination in West Papua. Her piece on the killings of the children in the highlands in West Papua was published in the TIME. She also notably received the SOPA Award for excellent reporting on the environment for her 'vigorous and detailed look at a major environmental problem' in Mentawai Island.