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50 Years of the Violation of Basic Human Rights in West Papua: Part one and two

Statement by Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive Director of LP3BH, made in preparation for discussions that were due to take place at the beginning of 2014.]
March 10, 2014

As an organisation which advocates basic human rights in the Land of Papua, the LP3BH – Manokwari wishes to record to all those who have remained silent about the conditions now prevailing in the Land of Papua, the experiences of the indigenous Papuan people who have ceaselessly tried to ensure that no-one will forget what has been happening  in this territory since 1 May 1963 and what continues to happen systematically up to the present day

      To begin with, it is essential to understand the history, in order to understand who it was who was responsible for the status  imposed on the Land of Papua on 1 May 1963. The indigenous Papua people have every right to enjoy all the rights that have been stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and  various international covenants regarding economic, social and political rights  as well as other international covenants all of which have been disregarded with regard to the situation in West Papua.
      At the time of Papua’s incorporation into the Republic of Indonesia, Ali Murtopo (a senior adviser to the then president of Indonesia) was quoted as saying: “What we want and need is the land in Papua, not the Papuans who live there.”
      In 1967, a Contract of Work was concluded by Indonesia regarding the exploitation of the copper and gold and possibly also uranium around the Grasberg Mountain around Tembagapura which was widely known to the Indonesian government as well as a US multinational corporation called Freeport McMoran.
    This makes it very clear why the USA played such an active role on the diplomatic front to ensure that West Papua would be incorporated as part of Indonesia, despite the glaring differences between the Papuan people with regard to their history, as well as their anthropology and ethnography and people living in other parts of Indonesia.
      It was abundantly evident that the USA was very interested in the natural resources in West Papua which explains why that country took such an interest in this matter.
“Gentlemen, I am angry with God. Why has God created such beautiful mountains, valleys and rivers, rich with minerals and placed us, the indigenous peoples, here in this place that attracts so many people from around the world to come, exploit our resources, and kill us?”
 [Translator's Note: This prayer was said in 1994 by a man who lived on the Grasberg Mountain, who bemoaned the fact that the territory inhabited by Amungme people was so richly endowed with natural resources of huge interest to the USA.]
       That man whose name was Tuarek Narkime delivered words that are widely known to and understood* by the leaders and people of the Amungme tribe in drawing attention to the many violations of the rights of these people which were perpetrated in the area when the Freeport mine was being  established, during the course of which many Amungme people lost their lives as a result of actions by Freeport personnel as well as by members of the Indonesian army and police, although none of these people have ever been called account before a court of law for what they have done.
     These introductory remarks provide the basis for everyone anywhere in the world and all democrats around the world to take a new look at the past as well at the present regarding the acts of violence that continue to occur in the vicinity of the Freeport mine without anyone ever being called to account for what they have done.

Ever since 1963 and 1967, the LP3BH has recorded the fact that the Republic of Indonesia has consistently used violence against the West Papuan people, something that even started to happen before those years.

    On 15 August 1962, when the New York  Agreement was signed by Indonesia and The Netherlands under the supervision of the United States of America, the Papuan people were not involved’ They were not even consulted for their opinion. Yet, at that time there was a New Guinea Council  which consisted of representatives of  the Papuan people, the members of which were chosen by means of democratically held elections which took place on 5 April 1961 in Hollandia (now called Jayapura).
      [All the names of the members of the Council who were elected, of whom 22 were Papuans, are listed  as well as those who were appointed which included one Papuan and five Dutch people, including one Indo-Dutch person.]
    Besides that, there were two major religious organisations, – the GKI [Evangelical Christian Church] and the Catholic Church] which were spread across  the whole of the Land of Papua. Yet, these churches were never consulted as part of civil society in the territory at the time. This was despite the fact that the UN was involved  in the creation of UNTEA as well as The Netherlands and the USA.
     What we mean by being consulted is all about the framework and  the possible problems that might arise among the indigenous Papuan people who were regarded as being too primitive  to take part in an election held according to the principle of ‘one person, one vote’. Were the towns and villages in West Papua too complex for the New Guinea Council or the two churches to choose their leaders? Such advice would have been very useful and important in deciding on on how to conduct the elections in accordance with the traditions  and customary laws that were vibrant among the Papuan people. who were supposed to have been consulted by means of the Act of Free Choice which was to have been held by 1969 in the Land of Papua.
     There was never any request for advice or opinion from the Papuan people. Still worse, what actually happened was that Papuans were arrested and even  cruelly tortured for allegedly being involved in an ‘underground movement’, with the intention of overthrowing the Indonesian Government. This is what happened to Baldus Mofu as a result of which he was mentally damaged at the hands of the military police and members of the Indonesian Air Force in Manokwari. Another Papua, Nicholas Tanggahma is believed to have died  after ingesting food that had been poisoned when he was staying at the Arfak Hotel in Manokwari in 1969.
     Several other members of the Council such as Marcus Kaisiepo and Nicholas Jouwe were arrested and taken to Europe prior to the Act of Free Choice. Others were treated in the same way, including E.J Bonay, F.K.T. Poana, A.S. Onim and Thontjee Meset.
     All these acts of violence were perpetrated by members of the Indonesian security forces, the TNI and Polri. and further intensified as the Act of Free Choice drew near in August 1969.
     The LP3BH is well aware of the fact that many activists in Biak, Sorong, Manokwari, Jayapura, Wamena, Nabire  as well as in Merauke were arbitrarily arrested by the TNI and Polri some of whom were summarily killed. An example of what happened occurred on 28 July 1969 in Manokwari when 53 Papuans were summarily executed at the headquarters of the Infantry Battalion in Arfak-Manokwari.
     Such human rights violations have systematically occurred ever since that time, following the enactment of Law 12/1999. This was clarified in the General Remarks contained in paragraph 1, section 6 which state: ‘The Act of Free Choice  in West Irian  was a manifestation of the aspirations of the Papuan people and resulted in the people of Papua and  West Papua  expressing their wish to be united with the people of other regions of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, affirming  that West Papua is part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.’
      The afore-mentioned statement became the legal basis for the Indonesian Government to enforce paragraphs 109 and 110 in law.  This codification was part of the law under the Dutch Constitution [Wetboek van Strafrecht]  whenever the government takes firm action against the Papuan people when they challenge  ‘Papua’s political integration’.
     As a result of all this, every time  that people in Papua or West Papua seek to challenge ‘political integration’  using their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Law 39/1999
on Basic Human Rights as well as universal human rights, they are accused of the crime of treason under the Indonesian Constitution.
      Such incidences occurred in Biak on 6 July 1999 when a group of Papuans unfurled the Morning Star Flag under the leadership of Filep Karma which resulted in his being subjected to acts of brutality by the TNI and Polri and which moreover resulted in dozens, even hundreds, of Papuans falling as victims, some of whom even lost their lives. All this resulted in Filep Karma and his colleagues facing the charge of treason.
(End of part on and  two of the translation.)
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, founder of Tapol

STOP DANCING ATOP OF SUFFERING OF THE PAPUAN COMMUNITY!

Opinion

By Rufinus Madai

February 28, 2013

For 13 years now  government officials in Papua have been enjoying the benefits of the millions of Indonesian rupiah that has come its way thanks to the Special Autonomy package given by the Indonesian Government; and it’s undeniable that government officials at the provincial level as well as at the regency (local) level of the bureaucracy have allowed themselves to be ‘bought’ by this money.

They have allowed themselves to be bought in the way they think, at the level of their conscience and in regards to their sensitivity to the reality of what’s going on around them.  As a result of their ‘selling-out’, in every instance it’s the Papuan community that ends up suffering the consequences, suffering the loss.  The little people.

One can’t help wondering why in this era of Special Autonomy with all the money it brings into Papua, are we still seeing the constant suffering of the indigenous Papuan community.  Why are there still the constant injustices, the mistruths, the inequalities of the legal system and the destructive conflict that’s dragging on forever?  In fact one starts to ask the question whether the Special Autonomy is actually playing a role in creating that suffering.

Strange that in this ‘Special Autonomy’ era and with all the money that flows through that program, that the government bureaucrats are sucking the life from the Papuan community by selling off the resources of the land on which the people totally depend for survival, and meanwhile they stand idly by watching  the endless violations of the indigenous Papuan’s human rights.

The people are repressed, treated with inhumane cruelty, objectified, detained, chased, labeled separatists and even killed.   In receiving  such wealth for their ‘services’ they have become like purchased puppets of the Indonesian government.   Is it any wonder with these realities so obvious that the Papuan community time and again shows its distrust of the bureaucrats of the Indonesian government in Papua?

Whilst they enjoy the luxuries that millions of rupiah from Special Autonomy bring, the basic rights of the people are not even being considered and their sufferings go on and on without end.  We are not referring here to one remote corner of Papua but rather this is going on throughout the entire land of Papua.

The systems, policies and laws which have been created together with the Central Government to date have not only failed to bring benefit, but in fact have brought great loss to the indigenous Papuan community.   Such loss, that the  community has become convinced that the laws and policies created  for application in Papua are intended to repress and eventually annihilate the indigenous Papuan community from the land.

The government bureaucrats at the Papuan level are involved up to their necks! It’s as if they have become enchained to the big money Special Autonomy brings and they can’t break free.  Bought by the system.  No matter what they do or what decision they make under these circumstances whether regarding laws, policies or other, that will always be determined according to these ties.  Their decisions and actions are not based on good conscience made to address the needs of the people. The consequence being that the little people become the victims.

Until this time there have been no positive changes whatsoever brought about by the development programs as implemented by the government in Papua.  How could there be as the reality is that these programs in whatever form they may be, are not based on a recognition of the basic rights of the Papuan indigenous community!

They are not programs that help with poor education, or which address structural poverty or people’s basic human rights.  The Papuan community is well aware of this and believes that programs being implemented in Papua are simply those intended to support the vision , goals and programs of the National Indonesian Government.  Programs which increasingly marginalize the Papuan indigenous population, creating colonial domination, structural poverty, overpowering of the local community and ultimately leading to the death of the Papuan indigenous community.

The Papuan community is also well aware  of the way the two Provincial Papuan Governments to date have been operating,  acting  always in ways that prioritises their own tax revenue income whilst trampling on the land of the little people. Yet at the same time taking no actions in those areas where the community needs social laws to protect the people such as regarding the abuse of alcohol and the provision of sexual services.

The Indonesian Government knows it has ‘bought’ these government officials and that they are now tied tightly to and dependent on the National Indonesian Government.  Money speaks and in the same way money effectively silences voices concerning the constant human rights violations that are taking place right across the land of Papua.

However in spite of their having allowed themselves to be bought by the Indonesian government, nevertheless the Papuan community continues to hope that those Papuan  Government officials referred to will turn back to the people. That in so doing that they will  stop ‘selling out on’  the little people  of Papua, stop dividing the land further which in so doing divides the people,  stop making decisions in the interests of their own power and wealth and  stop acting in ways that support the vision and programs of the National Government and extending the conflict in Papua yet further.

The Papuan community continues to hope that the Papuan Government leaders will reject Special Autonomy so that they may not be dependent and tied in such ways to Jakarta. Continues to hope that these leaders finally may have the courage to themselves assert what policies and concepts of development are needed that truly support and are able to bring about improvements in the welfare of the ordinary people.

Such that the Papuan community might determine its own future on its own land.  Such that the paradigm of Papuans as being primitive, ignorant people who need others to organize them may come to an end. The little people of Papua have waited faithfully so long and yet still the tears flow without ceasing.

“May they who have ears to hear listen, may they who have eyes see,  and may they who have hearts and minds consider carefully and arrive at those  decisions that are right and that is acceptable to all persons.”
The Writer is a post graduate student at the Catholic Seminary in Abepura, Papua.

Blasius Sumaghai beaten by Indonesian Navy Officers in Bade, Mappi

February 20, 2014

from our partners AwasMifee, Majalah Selangkah,plus trusted sources in Mappi interviewed by both AwasMifee and West Papua Media

Mappi, Majalah Selangah – Blasius Sumaghai (23 years old), a resident of Bade village, Edera District, Mappi, Papua has been beaten by members of the Indonesian Navy. The reasons for the beating were not clear.

According to information compiled by majalahselangkah.com, Blasius
Sumaghai, the son of the late Abraham Sumaghai who was an Awyu community leader, was beaten by several Navy officers on the 26th January 2014. The beating meant that Blasius Sumaghai was unable to walk for four days. He is still in a fairly serious state of trauma.

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The incident reportedly started as Blasius Sumaghai was seated outside a kiosk on Jalan Duyumu in Bade Village. Suddenly two Navy officers who were stationed at the Bade Navy outpost showed up. They showed no initial courtesy, just directly started striking the victim on his back and chest using the butts of their rifles

After the beating, our source said that the victim was brought to the
Navy outpost on a motorbike. On arrival at the outpost, he was beaten
over his whole body using rifle butts and hosepipes.  He suffered serious injuries.

It is reported that Blasius Sumaghai is not the only person to have suffered violent harrassment at the hands of the Navy.  Yustinus Akabagaimu, the 27-year-old son of local teacher Xaverius  Akabagaimu, has also been beaten up without any clear reason.

Yustinus is currently unable to walk as a result of the beating he
received. Several victims of harassment are unable to bring a case
against the perpetrators either because of fear or because they don’t
know to whom they should bring their complaint.

Majalah Selangkah‘s credible informant has said that that members of the security forces have often carried out beatings of young men in Bade when residents have reported that the men have done something wrong.

“But that’s what the police are for. What is Bade Police station doing?
The police are clearly tasked with maintaining law and order. The Navy’s role is to fight wars against other countries. Why should the navy take over the Police’s job right in front of their face? It’s very strange”, said the aforementioned source, sounding surprised.

The police in the Bade Police Station reportedly cannot be counted upon to maintain law and order in the area. As the community were celebrating Christmas 2009, the festive season which should be full of happiness was tainted by the murder of a young local man, Stefanus Silooy (38). He was killed by three police officers. This incident ended up with the community destroying the local police station.

In fact, a naval outpost in Bade is not strategic for national defence, because Bade is located on the shore of the Digoel River, and not on the coast. The town should really be guarded by a water-borne police unit.

So why is the Indonesian Navy present in Bade? Actually they are there to demand tribute from plywood and palm oil companies:  the Korindo group in Asiki which has been operating since the nineties and PT MAM* which has recently commenced operations near Bade.

Bade is a strategic port town, because all the plywood and Crude Palm Oil produced by PT Korindo in Asiki can only be transported by one route, the Digoel River. Bade represents the entrance and exit to this river system.

Source: Majalah Selangkah

[awasMIFEE / WPM note: a source (also in contact with WPM directly)  in Mappi has interviewed the victim and passed on these photos of his injuries, and also a letter from Blasius Sumaghai and his family addresses to the Governor of Papua Province, reproduced below in English. WPM has translated it despite the content being very similar to the Majalah Selangkah article above, and it is worth highlighting that the family request action be taken against the perpetrator and to close down the Navy Outpost.

*The article mentions a company named PT MAM, but this is slightly erroneous. MAM is the name of the location where another Korindo subsidiary PT Dongin Prabhawa has an oil palm plantation. Bade is on the Mappi side of the Digoel river, but lies close to the border with Merauke Regency - PT Dongin Prabhawa's plantation is also just a few kilometres away.]

Open Letter: And so the Inhumane Cruelty of Indonesian Armed Forces Against Papuans Continues…..

By SOURCE in Bade, Mappi Regency in West Papua

15 February 2014

It seems the bitterly cruel treatment of the Papuan indigenous community by the Indonesian armed forces will never come to an end. This time their cruelty has been unleashed on a young 23 year old man by the name of Blasius Sumaghai from Bade in the regency of Mappi in the far southern region of Papua. The incident involved use of brutal unrestrained violence against Blasius by two members of the Indonesian Marine Corps on 26 January 2014. Blasius is the son of a well known figure from the Awyu Tribe called Abraham Sumagahai and had done no wrong whatsoever that could have given reason for the ruthless attack by the marines. The attack on Blasius left him severely traumatized and unable to even walk for four days following the incident.

The incident occurred when Blasius was sitting in front of a kiosk (at Duyumu Road in Bade) at around 1945 hours on 26 January. Two members of the Marine Corps working at the Bade Post approached him without clear reason and started viciously beating him, striking him across his back and chest with their rifle butts. They then forced him into their vehicle and took him to their military post. They continued to strike him over his entire body with their rifle butts and a hose, leaving wounds over his entire body.

Blasius is by no means the first victim of such cruel tyranny by the Indonesian Marines in Bade. There have been numerous young people from the Bade Papuan indigenous community who had suffered seriously at the hands of the Marines in Bade but whose names cannot be mentioned due to their fears of retaliation. Many have no idea to whom they could possibly safely report things that have happened. To name just one, another 27 year old man Yustinus Akabagaimu (son of the local school teacher Xaverius Akabagaimu) was beaten so mercilessly by the Indonesian Marines in 2013that he is no longer able to walk to this date.

A trustworthy source stated that the brutal treatment of local Papuan youth by the Marines usually occurs due to a citizen having made a report to the Military Post that a certain youth has done something wrong, following which the Marines immediately find and arrest the youth, beating them far beyond the limits of what is humanitarian.

To understand what’s really going on behind these regular incidents of unwarranted violence against citizens, once must question the very existence of a prime Indonesian Military post in Bade. It’s hardly needed for national defense reasons, as Bade is located on the edge of the Digul River. It’s not as if it’s a strategic location bordering with another nation or the like. So why should the second largest base for the Indonesian Marine Corps in the entire southern region of Papua be located on the edge of a river in Bade? The answer lies in the fact that the location enables the forces to demand ‘tribute’ from the nearby multinational plywood and oil-palm company Korindo (in Assiki) and also from a second company which has recently been opened at a location also close to Bade. In terms of Indonesian economics Bade is a key location for these companies as their products are shipped out only along the River Digul. There is not only an Indonesian Marine Corps Post at Bade but also a Police Post, a Regular Military Post (TNI), an Indonesian Army Shore Unit (TNI-AD).

The community leaders of the Papuan community of Bade in response to the frequent violence by the Marine Corps against the indigenous Papuan community, call on the Governor of Papua Lukas Enembe :

i) To immediately take stern disciplinary action against those members of the Marine Corps in Bade who have been unleashing brutal cruelty against the indigenous people of Bade.
ii) To close the Indonesian Marine Corps Post in Bade
iii) To carry out an investigation as to the reasons for the existence of the Marine Corps Post located at Bade on the banks of the Digul River.

Footnote :

Bade is located in the south of Papua in the district of Edera in the Mappi Regency which borders the region of Merauke.

Catholic Church records many human rights violations in Wamena, Jayawijaya in 2013

From Papua Daily at Tabloid Jubi

January 1, 2014

The meeting between  church figures, police and community leaders (Jubi)
The meeting between church figures, police and community leaders (Jubi)

Wamena, 1/1 (Jubi) – During year 2013 there are many special alerts from community, traditional leaders and religious figures in Jayawijaya about conditions  of social, economics and politics in this district.

Father John Jonga, representative of the Catholic Church recognises the Catholic Church have recorded many violations of human rights during year 2013. Most violations are violations in the form of loss of rights to life, committed by the Armed Forces and the Police.

Father John said economic life has become increasingly difficult, because of economic programs that create dependence on government. Traditional economic life was destroyed as many gardens were abandoned.
“The price of basic necessities are very high and erratic (which is) a heavy burden on local peoples and disrupts the activities of the community.  For example before Christmas, gasoline rose to Rp100,000 (A$9) per litre, “said Father John to reporters at  Pilamo Cafe, Wamena, Tuesday (31/12).

In addition, Father John assessed the quality of health care in hospitals Wamena is still very bad. Local people complained about pharmaceutical quality, expensive price of pharmaceuticals, and even and clean water shortages. Some Public Health Centres even abandoned by health workers, and residents cannot be served.

The  increase in  HIV/AIDS cases was a record of the Catholic Church in Jayawijaya. The quality of education is very low.  Free educational programs do not run. Many schools outside the town of Wamena do not operate, resulting in many children dropping out of school and becoming street children in Wamena.

Julian Hisage, the Chief of Hubula’s, one tribe in Baliem Valley,  hopes that in 2014 the security forces can better appreciate the rights of civil society. Police also must act decisively against the perpetrators of crimes such as murder and suppliers of liquor.

“We also hope government  re-evaluates the programs, particularly the economic programs, so that more people can have economic independence, control the prices of goods and services in the town of Wamena, improve the quality of health care in hospitals and health centres in Wamena including the local health insurance programs, and improve the quality of education, “said Julian Hisage to reporters.

On the other hand, Jayawijaya Police Chief, AKBP. Johnny Eddizon ISIR, S.ik, who facilitated this meeting acknowledged that the input from community, traditional leaders and religious figures in the meeting should become a subject of evaluation for the police in order to better (their actions) in the coming years.

“Police cannot move without holding hands together to prevent conflicts that happen. So in the year 2014 it is expected any existing conflict potential can be prevented,” said Jayawijaya Police Chief. (Jubi/Islami/Victor Mambor)

Edited for clarity by WPM

Planned MSG Foreign Ministers visit to West Papua lacks transparency

Exclusive investigation from West Papua Media team

October 12, 2013

(The Hague): As allegations surface of Indonesian military-linked businessmen providing envelopes of “hefty cash” to senior officials in the Solomon Island’s Prime Ministerial delegation during the recent APEC summit in Bali, a high level source inside the Melanesian Spearhead Group has raised concerns over Indonesia’s subversion of the agreed visit of Melanesian Foreign Ministers to West Papua, in an exclusive interview with West Papua Media.

An explosive but carefully worded article in the Solomon Star newspaper on October 11 has alleged that Indonesian officials provided members of Solomon Islands government with large amounts of cash contained in yellow envelopes, during an official dinner hosted in honour of the Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and his delegation.

According to the Solomon Star report, at least five members of the delegation have admitted to receiving the payments, amongst a total of 17 delegation members alleged to have received the envelopes.  The report, from interviews by journalist Alfred Sasako with a highly placed whistleblower in Honiara, alleged that at least two “names withheld” senior officials received USD$25, 000 each, three others received USD$10, 000  and a final two delegation members received USD$5, 000 each respectively.

“It seems the level of payment is based on seniority, the higher you are, the more you get,” the sources told the Solomon Star.

After the publication of the new allegations, West Papua Media spoke on Saturday to a well-respected customary figure in the Solomon Islands, who described the latest revelations as proof of long-standing suspicions “that Indonesia is involved in a corrupt subversion of Melanesian solidarity on the West Papua issue.  The source described the behaviour of Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo in arranging unilateral visits to West Papua as “an affront to the Melanesian Way that is deliberately undermining the quality of what a properly constituted MSG Fact-finding mission can uncover in West Papua.”

“The Prime Minster is siding with Indonesia to cover up the crimes against the West Papuan people, by diluting the effectiveness of a multilateral fact-finding team to assess the real situation in West Papua.  What other deals is he doing for the Solomon Islands with these Indonesian military businessmen?  Are our islands going to be the next West Papua?” the source told WPM.   The customary source, who had no involvement with the Solomon Star revelations, declined to be identified for this article citing fears of being labelled as the whistleblower.

“This is not about me anyway, this about the questions for all Melanesian people about how far Indonesia is willing to bully or bribe Melanesians, and how some Melanesians like our Prime Minister are potentially having their pockets lined with blood money for turning their backs on the suffering of our Melanesian family in West Papua,” the source told WPM with some indignation.

Prior to the MSG meeting in Noumea in June 2013 the Indonesian and Fijian governments agreed to a multi-lateral visit to West Papua by MSG Foreign Ministers. The proposal was raised at the Noumea meeting by Fiji in part to defer a decision over whether West Papua would be granted membership into the MSG or not. The MSG Ministerial team has undertaken to write a report following their visit. This report will then help guide the MSG’s decision regarding West Papua’s membership. Since June, however, serious doubts have been raised as to how transparent the organising of the MSG Foreign Ministers is, or even whether it will happen at all.

A high-level source inside the MSG who was at the meeting in Noumea but asked not to be named told WPM  on condition of anonymity, that it was highly unlikely that the MSG will revoke Indonesia’s observer status, but that they could give West Papua ‘associative status’, which is a higher level of membership. However, the source then went on to say that it is now “not clear what is happening”.

The concerns are serious. First, no date has been set for the Foreign Ministers visit to West Papua. Second, neither the MSG Secretariat nor Melanesian nations are organising the visit. “The Foreign Ministers all rely on an invitation from the Indonesian government. It is not clear if such an invitation has been issued and it is not clear who will pay for it. My advice to member countries is that each Melanesian country pays for their own visit themselves” said the senior MSG bureaucrat. “That way the Foreign Ministers will not be beholden to the Indonesian government and that their status as independent advisors to the MSG is more likely to be guaranteed.”

Most concerning is that the idea of a multi-lateral visit could be abandoned. “It is possible” said the MSG official “that the foreign ministers could travel to West Papua separately and not as a group”.  This is the most likely possibility given the revelations in the Solomon Star.

Although privately many Melanesian politicians support independence for West Papua the official cautioned against false hopes. “West Papuans should not have high expectations from the forthcoming MSG foreign ministers support.”

At this stage it appears highly unlikely that the Melanesian foreign ministers report will reflect the political reality inside West Papua or the aspirations of the West Papuan people.  This view is reflected in the recent comments from Mr Gordon Lilo, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, who told Indonesia’s Antara state news agency that he is “impressed with the progress” the Indonesian government has made in West Papua.  Mannaseh Sogovare, the Solomon Islands opposition leader, criticised Lilo’s comments saying that he had “probably been overwhelmed by the reception of the hosts and obviously the Indonesians have gone out of their way to put on the wow factor to make sure that Lilo is wooed out of any views that he may have had in support of West Papuan membership of the MSG,” reported Radio New Zealand.

Comment about the corruption of the Fact-Finding process has also been repeatedly sought by West Papua Media from the office of Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses, however the Prime Minister was unavailable to comment on the allegations.  However, Carcasses issued a historic and moral challenge to the international community at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in late September, by calling for the appointment of a Special Representative to investigate historical and ongoing of human rights abuses by Indonesia.

‘How can we then ignore hundreds of thousands of West Papuans who have been beaten and murdered? The people of West Papua are looking to the UN as a beacon of hope… Let us, my colleague leaders, with the same moral conviction, yield our support to the plight of West Papuans. It is time for the United Nations to move beyond its periphery and address and rectify some historical errors,” Carcasses told the UN General Assembly.

These are the words that Melanesian leaders may well be reflecting on as they ponder the ramifications of accepting Indonesia’s subversion of the MSG Fact Finding Team process.

As well as sharing his concerns, the senior MSG official also had some practical advice for Papuan leaders. “All of us at the MSG are observing very closely developments inside West Papua. In order for us to assist the West Papuan application for membership Papuan leaders need to present a unified position that is backed up by strong support from civil society. The good news is that there is moral support from inside the MSG. Even senior leaders in the United Nations privately recognise that West Papua is an occupation.”

However, without unity of purpose from West Papuan leaders and strong grassroots support from inside Melanesian countries, the Indonesian government could out-manoeuver West Papua again.

WestPapuaMedia team