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Benny Wenda dispute about keeping Indonesia happy, says Opposition

Tuesday 12 Feb 2013 6:10 p.m.

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The Foreign Affairs Minister played a part in blocking West Papuan freedom fighter Benny Wenda from speaking at Parliament.

Murray McCully admitted he didn't want a National MP supporting the event, but Opposition parties say the Government is afraid of upsetting Indonesia.

A defiant Mr Wenda was on the steps of Parliament.

But the Government clearly sees Mr Wenda, his hat and ukulele as a risk. The speaker blocked him from holding a public speech.

But Labour Party leader David Shearer urged to “let this man in”.

“This is the people's house,” says Mr Shearer. “He should be allowed to have people speaking here, particularly when Wenda's been speaking at parliaments across the world.”

Labour, the Greens and Mana applied to hold the function. But today it emerged a National Party MP wanted to co-host it as well.

The Foreign Affairs Minister soon put a stop to that.

“The short answer from me is we would not favour that,” says Mr McCully.

So in the end, Mr Wenda had to make his speech across the road from Parliament, alleging genocide by the Indonesians.

He says it is “time now for the world to look at this situation”.

All the while the Greens continued the attack in the House. But this answer upset them.

“The member can invite anyone she wants to her office, to speak about anything they like,” was the response from Mr McCully.

The Indonesian ambassador didn't seem too upset about the saga today, but he didn't mince his words.

“Benny Wenda is a criminal,” says Antonius Triono.

Opposition parties say the Government is simply trying to avoid upsetting Indonesia – a billion-dollar trading partner.

Their Prime Minister is likely to visit later in the year, and he's sure to get inside Parliament. 

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