Papuans Confident Spearhead Group Will Support

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Not being ‘erased from the list’ seen as ‘diplomatic victory’ for
West Papua

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 8, 2014) – "We are not Indonesian or Asian but Melanesian. Whether the MSG accepts Indonesia into the MSG family is up to the MSG but we as West Papuan must apply for full membership of MSG because it is our birthright as a people of Melanesia, to claim our rightful place in the Melanesian family. We believe strongly that MSG will support our application because instead of removing us from the list, they asked us to form a new body and submit a new application under a new umbrella".

The Chairman of the Working Group for all West Papua pro-independence organisations, Markus Haluk has made the statement in an exclusive interview yesterday.

His visit comes on the heels of the resolution of the latest meeting by the Melanesian Spearhead Group countries in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, requesting the West Papuans to unify to adopt one common stand to reapply for membership of MSG.

Asked if it is going to be easy to adopt a united stand in the face of internal differences between the different pro-independence groupings, the Chairman of the Working Group says as a result of the application for full membership of MSG by the Port Vila –based West Papua Liberation Coalition, the whole of MSG has come together to support the wish of 99.9% of the people of West Papua to become independent from Indonesia. "While the MSG has instructed us to iron out any internal differences that we might have, we view the fact that West Papua has not been erased from the list as a diplomatic victory for the people of West Papua", he says.

"There are no ideological differences among the different groups except that everyone is eager to be seen to be up front leading the country’s struggle for freedom".

In addition, he says it is important to know that the people of West Papua have been killed, raped robbed of their lands and resources, brutalised and had their human rights abused for 53 years and no country in the world had tried to come to their aid except Vanuatu.

Representatives of West Papua pro-independence organisations operating in urban West Papua and in the jungle and abroad, are expected to attend the Reconciliation Conference in Port Vila next month, to form a new all West Papua Umbrella Organisation, to submit a new West Papua application for membership of MSG.

"My main reason for coming to Port Vila is to thank the Government and people of Vanuatu for their constant support for the last 34 years for the struggle for freedom for the people of West Papua", Haluk says.

"I have met with the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition this week and it is clear the Government of Vanuatu wants to facilitate once again, our latest meeting to be attended by the leaders of all West Papua pro-independence organisations for unification under one umbrella."

Prime Minister Joe Natuman’s Government has agreed to facilitate the Conference in the spirit of Melanesian Brotherhood in line with the original stand taken by the very first Government of the Independence of the Republic of Vanuatu on July 30 of 1980.

At the time the then Prime Minister, the late Father Walter Lini made his famous statement with words to the effect that Vanuatu would not be totally free until the whole of Melanesia was free of colonial bondage.

West Papua has three distinct groups – those in the Federal Republic of West Papua of which Haluk is Secretary, the West Papua National Coalition in Port Vila and the National Committee of West Papua. They all have a single objective – independence from Indonesia.

Asked if in his view Indonesia has succeeded in influencing the MSG to get them to ask for a new restructuring, he says the latest outcome of the MSG meeting in Port Moresby has shown that West Papua is still on the agenda of MSG and that is most important to them. "Thank you to Vanuatu for its intervention by the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Fiji through its Minister for Foreign Affairs".

Haluk rejects the findings of the MSG Foreign Affairs delegation to Jayapura last January saying it was not the views of the people of West Papua when the MSG delegation only spent five hours in Jayapura.

The Chairman says before PNG became independent in 1975, its population was 700,000 while West Papua’s population was 800,000. Now almost 40 years later, PNG’s population has increased to 7.5 million while West Papua’s population stands at only 2 million people. "The question now is where are the rest of the Papuans? Systematic genocide. If West Papua is a paradise for Indonesia then it is not a future for West Papua whose Melanesian people have a birth right to determine their own destiny", he says.

As to who is going to lead the new West Papua umbrella organisation to apply for membership of MSG, he says the answer is going to emerge from the all West Papua Reconciliation Groupings’ Conference next month which will also include representatives of women and tribal councils.

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