The voice of West Papua’s struggle for freedom reached Gdynia in the Baltic region of northern Poland this weekend, as Globaltica Festival hosted the first ever performance of West Papuan music in the country.
Led by West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, the Lani Singers played a one hour set of freedom songs on Sunday evening. The Lani Singers were joined by Oridek Ap, son of the legendary West Papuan musician Arnold Ap who was executed in cold blood by the Indonesian military in 1985.
A crowd of nearly 1,000 people gathered at the ampitheatre stage on the beach for what was an emotionally charged performance, with some audience members moved to tears as Benny Wenda told them of the situation in West Papua and the terrible suffering of his people under Indonesian occupation. It is a situation that many Poles could relate to given the country’s history. There were jubilant scenes at the end as the crowd cheered until the group returned on stage to play an encore – a classic OPM song that had everyone clapping and shouting ‘Merdeka’ (freedom) at the end.