WEST PAPUANS WANT TO LOBBY AT ACP SUMMIT IN FIJI

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By Robert Matau

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 31, 2002 - Sun/PINA Nius Online)---The West Papuan Independence Movement wants to lobby for support from African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) leaders meeting in Nadi, Fiji, in July.

In Fiji to start local awareness activities is West Papuan activist Herman Wainggai, from Yapen Island in the Indonesian territory.

He will attempt to obtain the support of the Fiji government in their lobbying efforts, he said.

But this could be a sensitive issue for Fiji. Indonesia is about to establish an embassy in Suva and has dialogue partner status at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva in August.

Efforts to obtain a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed yesterday despite faxed questions to Deputy Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Taina Tagicakibau.

The West Papuans were able to lobby strongly at the 2000 Pacific Islands Forum in Kiribati, thanks to strong support from Nauru and Vanuatu. But last year they were blocked from doing the same at the Forum in Nauru.

The lobby group for the July summit at Nadi could include West Papuan independence activist Jacob Rumbiak, who spent 10 years in an Indonesian jail. He now fights for the cause from exile.

Mr. Rumbiak spent five of those years in Indonesia's Cipinang Prison with Xanana Gusmão, the independence leader who is now president of independent East Timor. Mr. Rumbiak calls West Papua the next East Timor.

Mr. Wainggai has seen the establishment of a Fiji West Papuan Foundation, which is a branch of the West Papuan independence movement based in Melbourne. The Fiji branch is headed by former newspaper editor and recently appointed Radio Fiji news editor Mesake Koroi.

Mr. Koroi confirmed that the West Papuans will try to lobby for support at the ACP summit.

Mr. Koroi said for 40 years the people of West Papua have been calling for independence and thousands of people have been killed by the Indonesian military in clashes.

He said his group has been in contact with the Fiji government.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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