Left to right – West Papua’s Interim Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Morris Kaloran, Koteko Wenda, Koteko’s dad Benny Wenda and Head of Mission Freddy Warome inside Terminal

Koteko Wenda was invited to a Tannese community at Teouma Bush for lunch on her first arrival in the country last week. As the main guest at the time, she was asked to serve her lunch before anyone else. She did by serving all those present first and herself last. She is a true Melanesian!

The guest is the first born daughter of the Global Lobbyist for the freedom of West Papua and now Interim President of United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda.

Koteko Wenda, 21, is his first born daughter who was born in a refugee camp at Vanimo in Papua New Guinea.

Wenda has three daughters and two sons who are all British citizens and live in London with their mother and father, after he was granted political asylum by London following his escape from 25-year prison sentence in Jayapura.

His crime – raising West Papua’s Morning Star Flag.

Asked how his daughter travelled to Port Vila, her father said she was in Australia attending an international conference when she decided to join him in Port Vila.

“I was in prison and never met her until she was about nine months old when I asked the guard to allow her in to see me and they agreed and she came and was playing in prison for about two hours, without knowing why I was in prison,” he recalled.

“My life in prison changed when Indonesia wanted to assassinate me so I escaped at night. My daughter and her mother did not know anything and even with the news that Benny Wenda had escaped, my wife refused to believe the news after my other colleague was killed.

“I escaped across the border into Papua New Guinea and my people smuggled my wife and daughter to PNG too and hid them in the bush for six months. I wrote a note and sent it to my wife saying I was safe in England. She recognized my handwriting and believed that I was still alive.

“In 2003, one of my friends smuggled my wife and daughter who was then one year three months old to UK. Gradually I groomed her to understand why I am always away from her and her mother, that it was not money or a better life that I was searching for but, that I was on a mission.”

In 2004, the Global Campaigner again left them to come to Vanuatu. “When she grew up then she started asking, ‘Why daddy, are you always going to Vanuatu?’ he said.

“I started to explain to her that Vanuatu understands our struggle in line with our godfathers’ promotion of our struggle.”

She has arrived in Vanuatu to connect to understand the Vanuatu struggle and how it is linked to the West Papua struggle.

Asked what message he has for parents in Vanuatu, Wenda replied, “I am not in England because it is a good place or I am looking for money, but because my people are oppressed and people like me need to tell the world what is happening at home in West Papua.

“In the same way, I am telling my children to understand my mission so that when they grow up then they will continue the struggle.

“My first born daughter is already representing the next generation in the struggle, and I am proud of her every time I see her address an international forum in London or wherever concerning the plight of the West Papua people. She is telling her story and I am proud of her.”