Petition Calls On Fiji To Support West Papua’s MSG Bid

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Churches, NGOs appeal for support of Melanesian Spearhead Group

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 22, 2015) – A petition calling on the Fijian Government to support West Papua's bid to be full members of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) is expected to be delivered to Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The petition, drawn up by ECREA, was launched this week as the world celebrated World Social Justice Day.

The three major groups within West Papua sent their application to be submitted to the MSG on 5 February.

So, far only Vanuatu has officially expressed its support.

Papua New Guinea Prime minister Peter O'Neill also this month publicly expressed his views promising to do more to speak out on behalf of Melanesians in West Papua.

The people of West Papua is now looking to Fiji to support their application to be full MSG members.

In Fiji, this cause is already supported by the member Churches of the Fiji Council of Churches that includes the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, the Catholic Archdiocese of Suva, the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, the Presbyterian Church, the Salvation Army and the Fiji Baptist Convention.

In launching the Fiji Solidarity Movement for West Papua's freedom this week, Methodist Church in Fiji President Tevita Banivanua said the movement cannot be allowed to become stagnant as he appealed for support for the people of West Papua.

"The people of West Papua only want what each one of us want: to live a life free of fear; to live a life free of violence; to live a life free of exploitation; to live a life free of oppression; and to live a life free of political interference and intimidation," Banivanua said.

"They seek to be able to plant and reap what they sow. They seek to be able to use the natural resources that God has entrusted them with...in a sustainable and productive way; to secure a future for their own children and their descendants."

He also implored the Fijian Government to open their hearts to the suffering of the people of West Papua.

"We ask you to let Fiji be the rock in which West Papua can find refuge. Our brothers and sisters of West Papua seek membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group as members of the Melanesian community.

"West Papua looks to their big brother Fiji to take their hand, offered in love, offered in hope –and grasp it firmly, and pull them from the valley of the shadow of death in which they find themselves today." Meanwhile, when asked at a recent Parliament sitting whether the Fijian Government would support West Papua's MSG bid, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said he could not confirm the country's support in view of MSG processes in place.

"The application will be considered by senior officials of the MSG, the Foreign Ministers, and then the MSG leaders. This meeting will take place in Honiara, in July this year, so we have to follow that process."

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