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Natapei: Government appeases Indonesia, forgets Melanesians

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 3, 2012) – The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Edward Natapei, has told a visiting West Papuan delegation that any future government that the Vanua’aku Pati (VP) is a part of would review the Development Co-operation Agreement signed by Prime Minister Sato Kilman and Foreign Minister Carlot with the Indonesian Government in Jakarta.

This is because that agreement prohibits Vanuatu from taking up the issue of West Papua locally and internationally and the agreement itself recognizes Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua and specifically states that each signatory country must not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.

The President of Vanua’aku Pati said this yesterday as he and the Member of Parliament for Tanna, Joe Natuman who is also the Vice-President of Vanua’aku Pati, met in Parliament with a delegation of the National Coalition for the Liberation of West Papua (NCLWP), consisting of its Vice President, Secretary-General, Human Rights Officer based in Australia, two of its activists who came all the way from West Papua and the Head of NCLWP Office in Port Vila.

The West Papuan delegation briefed the two senior ranking Vanuatu parliamentarians about the changes they had made in their political organization from Orkanisasi Papua Mardeka or OPM. to the establishment of the National Coalition for the Liberation of West Papua.

This is to unify their various political, social networking and human rights groups with their missions to lobby the governments in the Pacific so that the NCLWP may become an observer or member of MSG and similarly of the Pacific Islands Forum and for the Pacific governments and organizations to work with other likeminded governments in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean to re-enlist West Papua on the United Nations List of Non-Self Governing Territories so that it becomes the responsibility of the UN Decolonization Committee and finally to take up the matter with the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

They said that their people have rejected the self-autonomy status proposed by Jakarta and have agreed to sit with the Indonesians in a peace and reconciliation conference but those in authority have not responded to the initiative but continue to use the security forces to cause violence and commit human right abuses in West Papua.

As examples, they point to the fact that during a peaceful protest at the Freeport mine towards the end of last year, the security forces shot dead several people and similarly at the University of Jaiapura during a conference.

The visiting delegation thanked the Vanua’aku Pati for championing their cause since the beginning and look forward to working with the VP and the Parliament to achieve their goal of freedom and independence.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition told the delegation that since Vanuatu’s independence in 1980, the VP led governments, because of its decolonization policy, refused to establish diplomatic relations with Indonesia. It was only in 1992 during a UMP lead government that the Prime Minister at the time, Carlot Korman, established diplomatic relations with Indonesia. Since then it has been difficult for the Vanuatu Government to deal with the issue of West Papua because of international diplomacy and international law.

However, Natapei said that the situation now is far worse because of the signed Development Co-operation Agreement.

He said that he is disappointed that some of the very MPs who pressurized him in 2010, when he was Prime Minister, to sign a motion for Parliament to adopt certain declarations on West Papua, but when they become Ministers in the current Government they forgot about the Melanesian people of West Papua.

Finally, the Deputy Leader of Opposition and President of Vanua’aku Pati, assured the delegation of the National Coalition for the Liberation of West Papua that if he and his party return to government they would ensure that the NCLWP achieves some of its missions particularly that of having an observer status in MSG and for Pacific Islands Forum or MSG to send a mission to West Papua to investigate and report on human rights situation there on the ground which had been widely reported in the media over the years.

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