Contention between representatives of West Papua and Indonesia at the 19th MSG Summit



By Selpius Bobii

Abepura Prison, 18 June 2013

“ I Baltazar Kambuanya on behalf of both myself and my family most sincerely apologise to the wider Papuan A3 family (of Aitinyo, Ayamaru and Aifat tribes) in the Jayapura area for my involvement in the Indonesian delegation to block West Papua becoming a member of the MSG”  stated the former Rector of the Cenderawasih University (Uncen), who is presently the Indonesian Minister for the Living Environment.  Professor Dr Baltazar Kambuanya M.BA sent this brief message to the wider Papuan family in the Jayapura region on 13 June 2013 to express his apologies for his involvement as a Papuan in the said Indonesian delegation to the 19th Summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) being held in Noumea, New Caledonia from 17 – 23 June 2013. (The theme of the 19th Summit being ‘Melanesian Identity’.)

Can such an apology in this instance be accepted by family, his tribal group and the wider Papuan community generally?  It is not appropriate or proper to expect an apology of this kind at this time to be accepted by the Papuan community that has tried so very hard to look for support and solidarity from our wider Melanesian family in neighbouring Melanesian countries.

There are a number of reasons such an apology in the present circumstances is unacceptable.  Firstly as those Papuans who were asked by the State of Indonesia to join the MSG Summit fully understand and are aware that the nation of Papua has struggled for 50 years for our full independence.  That Papua has been trying so very hard to receive acceptance as a full member of the MSG such that MSG might be a vehicle by which we might head towards accessing the mechanisms of the United Nations (U.N). Yet despite this full awareness they have gone as part of the Indonesian Delegation to the MSG Summit to block the efforts of West Papua to become a full member of the MSG.

Secondly, those individuals concerned joined the Indonesian Delegation to the MSG Summit being of full understanding and awareness that the community of the people of Papua has for 50 years been under the colonial domination of the Republic of Indonesia.  Endless Papuans have been killed, have suffered, have been arrested and imprisoned or have been forced to flee for their lives to the jungle or to other villages or even other nations looking for a safe place as a result of being chased by the Indonesian armed forces.  Those Papuan Indonesian delegates well know that so many Papuan women have been raped, that the Papuan people have been treated so oppressively and have been made a minority in our own lands, discriminated against and marginalised.  Such that we are now heading towards the extinction of our ethnic race as a result.  Even though those delegates know all these things full well, nevertheless they have gone as part of the Indonesian Delegation to block the efforts of the Papuan nation to bring an end to the colonial domination of Papua by Indonesia through a step that would open a door to the official channel of the U.N.

This is the first time in history that the nation of Papua has been invited to an MSG forum officially, with six (6) West Papuans having been formally invited to attend the 19th Summit by the host member country.  Yet this golden opportunity has met with this obstruction from a small number of Papuans themselves who have become the feet and hands of the Republic of Indonesia (RI), the ‘mistress’ of the State of Indonesia.  How very saddening indeed!

The third reason this offered apology cannot be easily accepted is that these persons know that they themselves are Papuans.. They are dark skinned, curly haired, indigenous to the island of Papua and ethnically from the Melanesian group.  They were carried in the womb of and born of Papuan mothers. They grew up with the fruits of the mother earth of Papua.  Yet with full awareness they have gone to the MSG Summit carrying the red and white flag of Indonesia to block the noble efforts of the entire Papuan nation to break the chains of oppression of the Republic of Indonesia by opening a door through the MSG.

The question begs why would these delegates want to obstruct the efforts of West Papua to become a member of the MSG?   There could be a number of reasons behind this including firstly that they have succumbed to the temptation of positions of power, wealth and other comforts offered to them by the State of Indonesia.  Financial wealth and the power of position together with the comforts they bring are indeed bargaining tools with an almost magical power.  They have mortgaged their self-worth for cheap offers that bring but worldly comforts.  They have been blinded by the worldly comforts offered to them, carried away by the current of earthly comforts and enjoyment such that in full awareness they have pawned their very self-worth and at the same time pawned the nation of Papua.

Go ahead and gather your earthly riches as much as you possibly can!  Go ahead and be appointed to whatever positions you like in the Indonesian system!  That is your human right and we will not stop you.  But do not again and again sell-out the noble struggle of the nation of Papua for such riches, positions of power and other comforts!  Do not again and again insult and humiliate the Struggle of the people of Papua with actions so vile.  Countless Papuans have died for this Struggle for freedom and have suffered in the depths of the jungles, in the valleys, in the coastal areas, in the mountains, in the prisons and by fleeing the land of their ancestors to foreign lands.

How ironic that the cleverness of those who have been well-educated and have become prominent intellectuals of Papua has been turned around and used to reinforce the colonial domination of their own families, their own tribal groups and their people by defending the Indonesian oppression.  They have been carried in the womb and born to mothers of Papua, have been raised and financially supported to bring about good for their families, tribes and nation and those around them.  Yet they have forgotten and do not know who they are.  They have allowed the colonizing state of Indonesia to lead them blindly by the hand and have prostituted themselves to RI and in so doing have prolonged the oppression towards their family, their tribes and the nation of West Papua.

They have in fact become a part of the very colonial systems of RI that has continually until the present time dominated and oppressed the nation of Papua.  Or are the actions of these Papuan Indonesian delegates to the MSG Summit caused by them feeling forced to do something that is in fact in conflict with their very consciences.  Indeed at times there are appointments of people to certain positions who are asked to take an oath to be faithful to the Republic of Indonesia, then as proof of their loyalty to RI they are required to do whatever is instructed of them by their superior.   If this was the case with these Papuans then it is nevertheless again a pawning of their self-worth in return for positions of power and the ideology of their people has been ‘sold-out’ for the ideology of a foreign nation.  This amounts to a betrayal of and a  traitorous act against the noble Struggle of the nation of Papua.

How deeply distressing that at the very same time the entire West Papuan community is struggling to find a way out from the colonial domination by the Republic of Indonesia, that there are some Papuans who are dancing upon the blood and tears of the entire West Papuan people!  Papuans who are obstructing the very road that leads to the liberation of the Papuan nation.  That at the same time Papuans are struggling so hard to bring an end to the oppression by RI in the land of Papua that there are certain Papuans that are in fact defending the colonial domination.  Papuans who are saying nothing against the oppression and who take no interest in uncovering the truth of what is going on.

These actions to obstruct the efforts of West Papua to become a member of the MSG are not done because of some defect or because of some lack of knowledge or understanding; rather these actions are taken with full awareness and comprehension of the problems faced by the Papuan people. These persons concerned clearly do not know who they really are, they do not know Papuan customary law and decency and do not know religious teachings. It is appropriate that they be called ‘traitors’.

It has been made publicly known that six (6) West Papuans led by Dr John Otto Onawame, had been invited to attend the MSG Summit being held from 17 – 23 June 2013 by the Host member.  This delegation includes Dr John Otto Onawame, Reck Rumaikiek, Andi Ayamiseba, Paula Makabori, and former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barack Sope as an advisor and one other delegate.  These persons representing Papua have been given an opportunity to convey the struggle of the nation of Papua and our longing to see an end to the colonial domination of our land and people by Indonesia; and to convey our longing to become an official member of the MSG as a first step in West Papua moving towards accessing  the mechanisms of the U.N. However at the very moment these representatives of Papua will be facing the challenge in the MSG forum, they will also be faced with those Papuans – the ‘mistress’ of the State of Indonesia – who have been officially sent by the State of Indonesia.  A delegation led by the Indonesian Ambassador responsible for travelling around visiting nations in the Pacific  Maikel Manufandu and Prof. Dr Baltazar Kambuaya  (In fact there have been a number of delegations sent by Indonesia to Noumea, New Caledonia in Indonesia’s efforts to obstruct West Papua being accepted as a member of the MSG).  Just imagine, within a highly respected MSG Summit gathering there being two groups of indigenous Papuans present, each with a different viewpoint and with goals that are vastly different! With one viewpoint being conveyed by the representatives of the nation of Papua and another by representatives of the State of Indonesia!

Within the MSG Summit the Papuan Representatives will convey the struggle of the people of Papua against the oppression of Indonesia and its allies and convey the importance of Papua coming out from that colonial domination and having full independence recognised. Yet at the very same time those Papuan representatives will be faced with a totally different viewpoint by the representatives of the State of Indonesia, that conveys the need for the Republic of Indonesia to continue its oppression of the indigenous peoples of Papua through their various strategies. The latter will argue how they must defend its colony of Papua in the interests of RI and its allies through ‘security’ approaches, social/cultural programs, law and welfare development programs, programs all that are all but shams. All with the aim of defending the land of Papua within the framework of the Republic of Indonesia. The leaders of the Melanesian nations at the MSG Summit will be considering the situation from these two opposing viewpoints heard.

Contention between these two representative delegations – from the Papuan nation and Indonesia – will reach its peak at the time of the final decision from the forum of the 19th MSG Summit.  There are but two possible outcomes from the MSG Forum.  The first with the Indonesian State Representatives successfully convincing certain leaders of the MSG of  Indonesia’s case and in so doing defeating the efforts of West Papua to become a full MSG member and thereby bringing victory to the State of Indonesia and its allies.  A victory that would not be noble, not be dignified or reflective of democracy; rather which would be a victory that is ‘dirty’ which has been engineered and which is based only on the economic and political interests of RI and its allies.  If this occurs it will mean that certain Melanesian countries will have been either influenced by a range of cheap offers or perhaps influenced by the viewpoint of the State of Indonesia which is but mere rhetoric.  If this is the outcome it will mean that the nations of Melanesia in fact have chosen to see West Papua continue to be sacrificed; have chosen to see the demands of the community of Papua ignored,  the solidarity of Melanesians neglected and the goal of the MSG Forum to make a stand in fact violated. It will mean that the nations of Melanesia do not recognise the people of West Papua as part of the wider Melanesian family.

However if it eventuates that this is the outcome, then let us be optimistic as there is still time in the years to come and we still have the Lord Almighty. Together with the Lord and in solidarity with the international community we will continue to struggle to face this terrible wind and storm regardless, as a united strong force heading towards the harbour of total freedom.

The second possible outcome from the MSG Forum is that the Papuan Delegation will be successful in convincing the MSG leaders of the Papuan nation’s case, with the result that West Papua will be received as a full member of the MSG. If this is the outcome it will mean that the victory will lie with the nation of Papua and that will indeed be a victory of faith in God, a victory of the truth and of justice and a  victory for international solidarity.  This outcome will mean that the Melanesian nations have heard the cries and hopes of the people of Papua for this last 50 years under the colonial domination of Indonesia and that MSG has recognised the people of West Papua ethnically as part of the Melanesian group.  With such an outcome we will step forward led by the Lord and together with the wider family of Melanesia and with international solidarity we will pass through this terrible wind and storm and head towards the harbour of total liberation.

At this time from behind iron bars in the Abepura State Prison the Writer calls for:

  2. Each individual that has prostituted themself in the politics of Indonesia and has ‘sold-out’ or obstructed the Struggle of the nation of Papua, to immediately wake up to what you have done/are doing and to be regretful of your actions and repent;
  3. To every Papuan person if you know of any member of your family or clan that has ‘sold-out’ the Struggle of the nation of Papua, that they be warned strictly whether orally or in writing;
  4. To the honourable leaders of the MSG to receive West Papua as a full member of the MSG Forum

Let us unite our ranks and step forward together to break the chains of the oppression of the Republic of Indonesia and its allies and to head towards the harbour of total freedom, which so long ago became the longing of the people of Papua and of those who stand in sympathy with us. Amen!

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of  Front PEPERA West Papua, and is a Papuan Freedom Political Prisoner in the Abepura Prison, Jayapura, West Papua. 

This article was submitted directly by Bobii to West Papua Media and published as part of our commitment to amplify the opinions of civil resistance movement leaders inside Papua.

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