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West Papua activist Benny Wenda leaves Papua New Guinea after ‘visa issue’, government says

Updated 26 Mar 2015, 5:21pm

Papua New Guinea’s government says a prominent West Papuan activist has been flown out of the country because he was travelling without a visa.

Benny Wenda, spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, was detained by immigration officials when he arrived in Port Moresby on Tuesday.

He had flown from the United Kingdom and had planned to visit PNG before heading to Vanuatu for a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

“Now I’m deported,” Mr Wenda said before being taken to the international terminal at Port Moresby’s airport.

“That means I leave this country, but my spirit and the struggle, I will leave it with the people of PNG today.”

The office of Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Peter O’Neill said Mr Wenda had arrived in the country without a visa.

A spokesman for Mr O’Neill said the West Papuan independence leader was not being deported, but he was “not permitted to enter the country”.

“It’s not a political issue, it’s a visa issue,” he said.

The prime minister intervened in the case on Wednesday.

Mr Wenda, who had been released into the care of friends, flew out of PNG on Thursday afternoon.

Last month Mr O’Neill said he would start speaking out about human rights abuses in the Indonesian province of West Papua.

“I think, as a country, time has come for us to speak about the oppression of our people there,” he said.

Some observers have wondered whether Mr Wenda’s forced departure from PNG represents a backdown by Mr O’Neill.

West Papua activist Benny Wenda leaves Papua New Guinea after ‘visa issue’, government says was originally published on United Liberation Movement

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