Tag Archives: Melanesian Spearhead Group

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

West Papua Report September 2013

from West Papua Advocacy Team

This is the 113th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm. Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1309wpap.htm

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

CONTENTS

This month’s PERSPECTIVE is by retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer (and West Papua Report editor) Edmund McWilliams. His analysis assesses the implications of the U.S. government “pivot” to Asia for U.S. policy regarding Indonesia and West Papua. The U.S. re-focus toward Asia and the Pacific involves closer U.S. political, security and economic ties to countries of the region. These enhanced security ties, in particular, will mean diminished U.S. government attention to human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior by regional militaries the U.S. seeks as “partners,” including Indonesia.

In “UPDATE,” we note the U.S. government’s decision to proceed with the sale of eight Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military. More than 90 NGO’s had urged the sale not go forward, due in part the likelihood that it will employed in West Papua. A “freedom flotilla” has left Australia for West Papua. Indonesian officials have threatened to arrest participants. Jakarta may renege on it pledge to invite Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group nations to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Indonesian security forces have arrested scores of Papuans who sought peacefully to assert their cultural identity.

In this month’s “CHRONICLE,” we note an open letter by the Australia West Papua Association to the Pacific Islands Forum to take up the issue of West Papua and link to an interview with Benny Wenda carried by Democracy Now!

PERSPECTIVE

Implications of the “Asia Pivot” for U.S. Policy on Indonesia
by Ed McWilliams


The U.S.’s determination to “partner” with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably during the cold war. U.S. support for rightwing military dictatorships, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.


Senior U.S. administration officials continue to emphasize U.S. determination to pursue a greater focus on Asia and the Pacific. The “Asia Pivot,” according to senior Pentagon and State Department officials, reflects a growing realization in Washington of burgeoning trade opportunities presented by the economic dynamism of the region. At the same time, Washington is increasingly conscious of security challenges posed by the growing power of the Chinese military, as well as territorial disputes, notably in the South China Sea.

The Obama administration has sought to implement the pivot by strengthening existing security, political and economic ties with states in the region. In the security sector, the Obama administration has built upon relationships with regional forces established during the previous administration in the context of anti-terrorism.

The Obama administration’s expansion of ties to regional military forces, in Indonesia, but also in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Burma (Myanmar) have proceeded notwithstanding well-founded concerns that these security “partners” have well-documented histories of human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior. A number of these prospective security “partners” have records of repression of minorities. Vietnamese security forces played a key role in Hanoi’s policy of ethnic cleansing of the Montagnards, who have been forcibly displaced from much of their Central Highland homelands to make way for government-subsidized Vietnamese migrants. In Burma, despite significant democratic progress, Burmese security forces continue to carry out repressive measures against tribal groups.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

The Indonesian military (TNI) is Southeast Asia’s largest military. Thanks to a sprawling commercial empire of both legal and illegal businesses and a long history of a lack of accountability before Indonesia’s civilian court system, it remains largely beyond the control of the civilian government. It also continues to violate human rights with near impunity, as documented by the UN Human Rights Commission, international NGO human rights monitors, and even the U.S. State Department’s own annual human rights reports.

The TNI’s human rights record is most egregious in West Papua, the troubled region forcibly annexed by Indonesia in the 1960’s. That annexation proceeded absent any opportunity for the Papuan people to exercise their right of self-determination. The TNI has been the principal agent through which the Indonesian government has sought to enforce its control of the resource-rich region. The brutality of the TNI-backed occupation of West Papua, the ethnic cleansing entailed by decades of “transmigration” — government subsidized migration from within Indonesia to West Papua which has displaced Papuan peoples from their homes — and policies of malign neglect in the areas of health, education and development have raised credible charges of genocide.

The U.S. administration’s determination to partner with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably in the context of the cold war. U.S. support for the anti-communist Suharto dictatorship and with rightwing military dictatorships in Central and South America, Iran, and elsewhere, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.

The Obama administration’s Asia Pivot inevitably must be seen in the context of these earlier strategies which sacrificed human rights concerns, democratization, and principles of civil control of the military on the altar of security objectives. As in the past, the U.S. administration contends that closer U.S. cooperation encourages reform among its security “partners.” The military-to-military relationship with the Indonesian military during the 30-year Suharto dictatorship remained extremely close despite egregious the TNI’s human rights crimes and corruption. Indonesia’s illegal invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent occupation of that small country remained largely irrelevant to Washington’s pro-Suharto and pro-Indonesian military stance.

The saga of East Timor (now Timor-Leste), in the context of U.S. policy toward Indonesia includes a particular irony. The United States, throughout the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, accepted the occupation, maintaining that East Timor was “an integral part of Indonesia” with the caveat that “no genuine act of self-determination had taken place.” The U.S. consistently ignored Indonesia’s crimes in the territory, except when it was compelled to address them as a consequence of international media attention, such as the in the case of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. U.S. Congressional outrage and public pressure over that crime forced restrictions on U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia.  

The sad saga of West Papua contains parallels with that of East Timor. West Papua was also invaded and occupied by the Indonesian military with the backing of the U.S. The West Papuan people, like the East Timorese, have suffered extraordinary repression under Jakarta’s rule. The United States, echoing its previous stance on East Timor, has consistently stated that it regards West Papua as an “integral part” of Indonesia. The U.S. public stance on West Papua, however, differs from its previous position regarding East Timor insofar as the U.S. refuses to acknowledge that Papuans have not been afforded their right to self-determination.

It appears that this long-denied right, along with the Papuan’s right to live free from Indonesian repression, can not be accommodated in the context of Washington’s Asia Pivot. The recent sale of attack helicopters to Indonesia (see below) is the latest example of human rights concerns and fundamental civil rights, including the right to self-determination, being sacrificed on the altar of geo-political expediency.

UPDATE

U.S. Approves Sale Of Apache Helicopters to the TNI

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the sale of a squadron of eight Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI),  during a visit to Indonesia. The sale, which includes pilot training, associated radar, and maintenance support, is worth half a billion dollars over 10 years.


The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.


According to Indonesian officials, the sale includes no conditions governing how the aircraft are to be used. In the past, the U.S. government has imposed restrictions on the sale of weapons systems to the TNI as a means of reducing the possibility that those systems would be employed against civilians.

Last year, more than 90 international non-governmental organizations wrote to oppose the sale. Long standing U.S. congressional concern over the extremely poor human rights record amassed by the TNI appears not to have been taken into consideration by the U.S. administration. For over a decade, the U.S. sought to build a partnership with the Indonesian military notwithstanding that institution’s abysmal human rights record, corruption, and unwillingness to subordinate itself to civilian government control. An August 27 Jakarta Post report quotes Hagel as stating that he “welcomed the progress Indonesia has made in improving transparency and the protection of human rights.”

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team issued a joint statement condemning the sale. The groups said that “The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.” The sale of the helicopters “demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.”

Freedom Flotilla to Sail from Australia to West Papua

Police surrounding event in Sorong just prior to arrests of organizers (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

Australian activists are sailing from Australia to Merauke in West Papua to demonstrate international concern over the denial of human and civil rights by Indonesia. The Freedom Flotilla is also as a cultural mission aimed at re-establishing millennia-old ties between the aborigine population of Australia and Papua.

Indonesia has threatened to block the flotilla by force. The flotilla, which has permission from local Papuans to land in their area, has been delayed by mechanical problems. Papuans in Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua have staged massive “welcome” demonstrations in support of the mission. In Sorong, police arrested four West Papuan leaders who organized a welcome ceremony for the flotilla.

Flotilla spokesperson Ruben Blake called Indonesian threats of arrest, force and naval interception “heavy-handed.” He noted that in the past the Indonesian government has gone to great lengths to prevent people from witnessing conditions in West Papua. He expressed concern for the safety of those participating in the peaceful mission:

“We believe that safety of a group of peaceful protesters who are going there on a cultural mission as well as a human rights mission should be respected. These threats that haven’t been ruling out the use of guns and force is a big concern. People around the world should be absolutely concerned about the safety of the people on board the boats.”

The Australian government has warned that it will not extend consular protection or assistance to flotilla participants.

Indonesia Accused of Reneging on Pledge to Invite MSG Delegation

Solomon Islands PM Lilo meets Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office.

Rex Rumakiek, Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, accused the Indonesian government of reneging on its promise to invite a delegation of Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Rumakiek, whose group petitioned the recent MSG summit for West Papuan membership, told Radio Australia that rather than inviting an MSG delegation, Jakarta has resorted to inviting the MSG nations to visit individually. Rumakiek noted that the Indonesian government is seeking to divide the group, which has been seeking to formulate a united MSG position on the question of West Papua’s status. Indonesia refunded the US$171,000 cost of a recent state visit by Solomon Islands prime minister to Indonesia.

Security Forces Stage Widespread Arrests as Papuans Assert Cultural Identity

West Papua Media has reported scores of arrests of Papuans who sought to organize peaceful demonstrations commemorating August 15, “a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.” The demonstrations were billed as “cultural parades,” assertions of Papuan cultural identity in the face of what West Papua Media sources described as a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces.”

The parades were held on the anniversary of the 1962 New York Agreement which began the process of Indonesia’s formal take over of West Papua. The parades were also to celebrate the opening of a new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Netherlands.

Despite widely-reported police statements that they would allow the parades to go forward, waves of arrests and other intimidation prevented several from taking place. Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak.

Opposition to ConocoPhillips

The Forum to Care for Papua’s Natural Resources is opposing plans by ConocoPhillips to explore for oil and gas in West Papua. In a press release issued in Yogyakarta, August 31, the group said that ConocoPhillips “will only aggravate symptoms of social breakdown and environmental damage, as such corporations are only interested in their own profits, and do not care about the environment and Papuan indigenous people.” According to media reports the company reiterated its plan to carry out seismic testing in Boven Digoel and Pegunungan Bintang in 2014.

CHRONICLE

Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) (AWPA) has written an open letter to the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders urged them to discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro. Joe Collins of AWPA said, “We would like the Forum Leaders to follow the example of the MSG leaders who at their summit in Noumea, raised concerns about the human rights abuses in West Papua in their official communiqué. They also recognized the right of the West Papuan people to self-determination.”

Guardian Reviews West Papua History

The Guardian, August 29, published an article by Marni Cordell which offered a candid review of West Papua’s history. The article, “The West Papuan independence movement – a history,” notes that the Papuan struggle for self-determination continues, 40 years after a “sham ballot” through which Indonesia annexed West Papua.
 
Benny Wenda Interview

Benny Wenda, human rights defender and advocate for Papuan self-determination now living in exile in the United Kingdom, was interviewed on Democracy Now! in February, 2013. The video and full transcript of the interview were recently made available.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1308wpap.htm

Back issues of West Papua Report

Commitment of the MSG regarding West Papua to be put to the Test

Opinion / Analysis

By Selpius Bobii

Abepura Prison, 28 June 2013 |

After more than 50 years of struggle, finally the voice of the Papuan nation has been formally discussed in the 19th Summit of the MSG which took place from 17-23 June 2013 in Noumea, New Caledonia.  As the community of the nation of Papua we are most appreciative to the leaders of the MSG and particularly to the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) as the host of the forum that officially invited a delegation from West Papua.

This is the first time an opportunity has been given by MSG to representative groups from both West Papua and Indonesia to convey their respective viewpoints within an MSG Forum. The West Papuan viewpoint was conveyed by Dr John Otto Ondawame of the WPNCL whilst the Indonesian viewpoint was conveyed by the Indonesian delegation led by Maikel Manufandu. The decision of the MSG Forum in handling the issue of Papua and in particular Papua’s application for membership is taken as a realisation of Melanesian solidarity and an upholding of the worth of all Melanesian peoples. The Forum’s decisions as recorded in the MSG Communique reflect decisions by the MSG leadership that West Papua is indeed recognized by MSG as a part of the Melanesian ethnic group and as part of the wider Melanesian family cannot be overlooked or forgotten.

The Indonesian representatives at the MSG Forum were faced with unanimity of heart and resolve by the MSG leadership to support the struggle for the liberation of West Papua. The resolutions of the MSG Summit amount to an implicit statement to other nations of the world of the importance of the West Papua issue such that it would be discussed at length by other nations of the region. This signifies that the nations of the Melanesian region are treating most seriously the humanitarian issues in Papua together with issue of self-determination for Papua in the hope of saving the people of West Papua from this humanitarian emergency.

Even though the decision of the leadership of MSG Summit is something so very pleasing to the people of West Papua, we nevertheless still have concerns that the status of the application for membership by West Papua will not be finalised by the MSG before receipt of the report of the visit to Jakarta and West Papua by the delegation of MSG member Foreign Ministers. Will the nations of the Melanesia region be able to act consistently with their statements of commitment on 21 June 2013 as stated in the MSG Communique regarding West Papua? That commitment is indeed going to be severely tested in the coming months as the State of Indonesia is extremely cunning in its political rhetoric and will be doing whatever it can to ensure West Papua’s application for membership with the MSG (as represented by WPNCL) is cancelled.

The visit by the MSG member Foreign Ministers will clearly have one of two consequences. Either the visit by the delegation will be beneficial for West Papua or conversely the visit could result in West Papua being sacrificed at enormous loss to the people of Papua. The latter may occur if the MSG delegation feels trapped and/or is tricked by the dirty politics of the State of Indonesia (RI). If the MSG delegation members are tricked or trapped by the unilateral rhetoric of RI and/or are tempted by the various ‘offers’ that RI will undoubtedly make, then it may occur that the report of the delegation that visits Jakarta and Papua may be at a tangent to what was its purpose. It will not in that case be objective or just and may conclude that all is ‘just fine’ in West Papua. An outcome which would result in West Papua’s application for MSG membership being rejected and which would be advantageous for RI but absolutely disastrous for the people of West Papua.

The commitment of the MSG leadership as stated in the Communique needs now to be realised through real and positive steps that need to be taken by the MSG Forum including:

  1. West Papua should have been confirmed as a permanent member of the MSG without needing to wait for the report from the delegation of MSG member Foreign Ministers if indeed MSG is truly concerned about the humanitarian emergency in West Papua. However we indeed hope that the MSG leadership will continue to defend West Papua becoming a member of MSG following the visit of the delegation of MSG member Foreign Ministers regardless of what is reported back from that visit.
  2. The taking of real and positive steps immediately by the MSG to mediate negotiations between the nations of West Papua and Indonesia to thoroughly deal with the problems and to arrive at solutions that uphold the dignity of the people.
  3. MSG leadership taking the issue of Papua to the United Nations (PBB) through one or more of the following channels :a)     The UN Committee for Decolonisation for West Papua with the re-registering of West Papua

    b)    The MSG advocating to have the issue of Papua on the agenda at the coming session of UN

    Then  MSG putting forward a motion within a UN forum to determine the legal and political status of West Papua leading to either the independence of the nation of West Papua being recognised or alternatively there being held a referendum.

    c)     The MSG Forum through legal channels mounting a challenge against the annexation of the independence of the nation of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia and/or the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ of 1969.

The community of the nation of West Papua and those in international solidarity will be closely following the realisation of the commitment of the MSG leadership and meanwhile will continue our efforts to become recognised as a full official member of the MSG.  With the hope that through MSG West Papua will be able to continue to struggle for the return of our rights as the first-born in the land of Papua and for the sovereignty of West Papua to be legally recognised.  Rights that were unlawfully denied us when Papua was immorally and illegally annexed into Indonesia.

Ideally the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua would be acknowledged at this time by the MSG Forum and that MSG would then lobby other nations at the UN for the recognition of Papua’s independence leading to the return of powers of governance. This way being the ‘shorter road’ which delivers an accurate and effective outcome. Rather than having to fight for our self-determination through a repeated referendum which may not give a clear determination and which is a much longer process that requires significant material resources, time and effort and human victims that will not be small in number.

The decision of the MSG at the 19th Summit was one of wisdom that upholds the values of justice, human rights, truth, honesty, democracy, peace and also the value of the Melanesian ethnic group. These values must not be neglected or overlooked due to offers of any kind by the State of Indonesia and/or its allies. The nation of West Papua dearly hopes that the leadership of MSG will maintain their initial commitment to the people of Papua as stated in June 2013. That the MSG Forum together with the nation of West Papua and the support of the international community in solidarity will continue to struggle for the recognition of the full and free sovereignty of Papua and its liberation from the colonial domination of RI and its allies.

Points 20-21 in the MSG Communique regarding the West Papuan issue are extremely special, meaningful and symbolic.  What will be most wonderful indeed is if the MSG final decision gives realisation to these hopes as a result of their very real and positive actions to rescue the nation of Papua from discrimination, marginalisation, becoming a minority and ultimately genocide of the ethnic West Papuan race.

We hope that the international community including both other nations and international entities/organisations, will give moral and material support to the leadership of MSG such that their commitment as stated in June remains steady. So that they are not manipulated and tricked by the political, security related and economic manoeuvres of the State of Indonesia and its allies intended to bring down the application of West Papua to the MSG and to cut across efforts by the MSG to help the people of West Papua. To help their fellow Melanesians who are presently in a state of crisis and a humanitarian emergency that is most horrifying in its consequences. A situation that has and continues to be hidden from the rest of the world.

The MSG Forum is the door that leads to access to the formal processes of the UN. So wherever people of the Papuan nation may be around the world, together with those of the international community in solidarity with us, we hope that you will be fully supportive of these efforts by the MSG whether directly or indirectly. So that MSG can stand strong in accordance with their commitments at the 19th Summit and fight for the self determination of the nation of Papua which is in accordance with the founding preamble of MSG.

Let us close our ranks and strengthen our position and capacity within the representative body of the WPNCL, so that WPNCL can represent West Papua towards a successful decision of the MSG that will bring an end to the present problems in West Papua. WPNCL cannot go this alone as through a forum of the highest order the nation of Papua at the III Papuan National Congress on 19 October 2011 in Abepura, declared the restoration of the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua in the State of West Papua and as a legal basis was established the State of the Federal Republic of West Papua. At that time the highest mandate of the nation community of Papua was given and that lies with the State of the Federal Republic of West Papua.

There is a need as soon as possible for a gathering of West Papua in the form of a West Papuan ‘National Evaluation’ or ‘West Papuan Internal Dialogue’ to arrive at a compromise or political internal consensus for West Papua. Such that moving forward there will no voice heard that is not in accordance with that arrived at and no claims or counter claims as to ‘ownership’ of the struggle. Such that there may be a mutual understanding and recognition of each others’ positions. The time has now come that there is a most critical need for all components of the Papuan struggle to unite and to divide the roles, then stepping forward together to bring into reality our longing for the nation of Papua, of West Papua, to become indeed fully sovereign.

Let’s work together to uphold those supreme values of truth, justice, honesty, human rights, democracy, self-worth and peace as the most glorious of human actions/works, even though in doing so we may face risks and difficult consequences in the realization of those values. For surely this is far nobler than to dedicate our all to the fulfilment of our own personal interests or our group’s interests and especially by means that are not upholding of humanitarian values. ‘The rescuing of human souls that have been shackled by the tyranny of oppression is indeed the highest law.’

Unity without limits! Struggle until victorious!

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.

 

 

Papua New Guinea takes a regional lead in supporting a free West Papua

16 March 2013

 by Airileke Ingram and Jason MacLeod

Melanesian support for a free West Papua has always been high. Travel throughout Papua New Guinea you will often hear people say that West Papua and Papua New Guinea is ‘wanpela graun’ – one land – and that West Papuans on the other side of the border are family and kin. In the Solomon Islands, Kanaky, Fiji and especially Vanuatu, people will tell you that “Melanesia is not free until West Papua is free”. This was the promise that the late Father Walter Lini, Vanuatu’s first prime minister made.

benny powes 1
Above: Papua New Guinea National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop with Independence leader, Benny Wenda at the concert for a free West Papua, Jack Pidik Park, Port Moresby 6 March 2013.

Ordinary people in this part of the Pacific are painfully aware that the West Papuan people continue to live under the gun. It is the politicians in Melanesia who have been slow to take up the cause.

But that may be changing.

Last Wednesday 6 March 2013, the Right Honorary Powes Parkop, Governor of National Capital District, Papua New Guinea nailed his colours firmly to the mast. In front of a crowd of 3000 people Governor Parkop insisted that “there is no historical, legal, religious, or moral justification for Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua”. Turning to welcome West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, who was in Papua New Guinea as part of a global tour, the Governor told Wenda that while he was in Papua New Guinea “no one will arrest him, no one will stop him, and he can feel free to say what he wanted to say.” These are basic rights denied to West Papuans who continue to be arrested, tortured and killed simply because of the colour of their skin. Governor Parkop, who is a member of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which now has representatives in 56 countries, then went on to formerly launch the free West Papua campaign. He promised to open an office, fly the Morning Star flag from City Hall and pledged his support for a Melanesian tour of musicians for a free West Papua.

Governor Parkop is no longer a lone voice in Melanesia calling for change.

Last year Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill broke with tradition and publicly admonished the Indonesian Government’s response to ongoing state violence, human rights violations and failure of governance in West Papua. Moved by 4000 women from the Lutheran Church O’Neill said he will raise human rights concerns in the troubled territory with the Indonesian government. Now Governor Parkop wants to accompany the Prime Minister on his visits to Indonesia “to present his idea to Indonesia on how to solve West Papuan conflict once and for all.” Well known PNG commentator Emmanuel Narakobi remarked on his blog that Parkop’s multi-pronged proposal for how to mobilise public opinion in PNG around West Papua “is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue (of West Papua)”. On talk back radio Governor Parkop accused Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr of not taking the issue of West Papua seriously, of “sweeping it under the carpet.”

In Vanuatu, opposition parties, the Malvatumari National Council of Chiefs and the Anglican bishop of Vanuatu, Rev. James Ligo are all urging the current Vanuatu government to change their position on West Papua. Rev. Ligo was at the recent Pacific Council of Churches in Honiara, Solomon Islands, which passed a resolution urging the World Council of Churches to pressure the United Nations to send a monitoring team to Indonesia’s Papua region. “We know that Vanuatu has taken a side-step on that (the west Papua issue) and we know that our government supported Indonesia’s observer status on the MSG, we know that. But again, we also believe that as churches we have the right to advocate and continue to remind our countries and our leaders to be concerned about our West Papuan brothers and sisters who are suffering every day.”

In Kanaky (New Caledonia) and the Solomon Islands West Papua solidarity groups have been set up. Some local parliamentarians have joined the ranks of International Parliamentarians for West Papua. In Fiji church leaders and NGO activists are quietly placing their support behind the cause even while Frank Bainimarama and Fiji’s military government open their arms to closer ties with the Indonesian military. This internationalisation of the West Papua issue is Indonesia’s worst nightmare; it follows the same trajectory as East Timor.

The West Papuans themselves are also organising, not just inside the country where moral outrage against ongoing Indonesian state violence continues to boil, but regionally as well. Prior to Benny Wenda’s visit to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu based representatives from the West Papua National Coalition for Independence formerly applied for observer status at this year’s Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting due to be held in Noumea, New Caledonia in June, home to another long running Melanesian self-determination struggle. While in Vanuatu Benny Wenda added his support to that move, calling on Papuans from different resistance organisations to back a “shared agenda for freedom”. A decision about whether West Papua will be granted observer status at this year’ MSG meeting will be made soon.

In Australia Bob Carr may be trying to pour cold water on growing public support for a free West Papua but in Melanesia the tide is moving in the opposite direction.

 

 

free_west_papua_concert

 

The West Papua struggle is a difficult one and what outcome will emerge in the years to come is still hard to see. Allot of thoughts crossed my mind on Wednesday night when I attended the Benny Wenda, Free West Papua Concert. But from an Australian perspective, these comments by Daeron on an online forum summed it up quite well for me:

 

“Despair would be a natural but unproductive reaction to this SMH article yesterday, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/carr-helps-to-remove-the-blinkers-20120305-1ue67.html

Both Bob Carr and Mr Hartcher are products of an American fantasy about Indonesia which benefits Bechtel, Freeport, Exxon, NewMount, Conoco Phillips, to name a few.. Just find a membership listing of the US Indonesia Society lobby to get a full listing. But an Australian foreign minister needs to know the difference between illusion sprouted in US publications and reality, and he needs to understand our regional interests. Bob Carr is a wonderful choice for Indonesia, but not so much for us.I agree the Balinese are a nice people, but Jakarta is not ruled by the people of Indonesia, it is a oligarchy mostly of Indonesian Generals and US corporate interests. The effect of the 1975 invasion of East Timor was that Portugal Oil was replaced by Conoco Phillips, and the effect of the 1962 American deal (the “New York Agreement”) for the UN to trade our neighbours of West Papua to Indonesian rule, was that Freeport got to mine Papua’s gold & copper etc.The NSW Parliament is well aware that West Papua is victim of an illegal UN resolution (resolution 1752 (XVII)) which Australia supported in August 1962, an act which benefited the US corporations and Jakarta but not Australia or our regional interests. Colonialism is good business for Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.; and it is the unspoken Australian policy for the indigenous population of West Papua.Over this coming year watch as Bob Carr, just like Kevin Rudd, refuses to answer a simple question; why did Australia support UN General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII) ?
Posted by Daeron, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 1:49:53 AM”

 

But putting aside Independence hopes and geopolitical hurdles for a minute, why would a group of people be causing so many issues for Indonesia if they were happy?

 

.

 

Benny Wenda opened his speech with a story of how when he was 6 years old he witnessed his mother being struck down by the butt of a gun at the hands of Indonesian Military and then witnessed as two Aunties who came to help his mother were raped before his eyes. All this at the age of 6.

 

.

 

It is no wonder that experiences like this from many West Papuan’s have clearly driven them to dispute the fact that they had a legitimate say in self determination in 1962. Again, even if we accepted the UN resolution, has Indonesia given them appropriate rights and services to lead fulfilling lives?

 

.

 

I’m no authority on this issue and I’ve never been to West Papua, but as far as I know there are quite allot of unhappy indigenous West Papuan’s in the world today.

 

.

 

So what are they going to do about it? Well Governor Parkop announced on the night that he was going to be setting up a West Papua Office in Port Moresby. Globally as well they would be coordinating with the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, the International Lawyers for West Papua and International Musicians to ramp up the Global Campaign for West Papua’s Freedom.

 

.

 

I take my hat off to Parkop, this is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue. Below are some pics of the night and here’s a good wrap up of Parkop’s speech here.

 

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free_west_papua_concert

The West Papua struggle is a difficult one and what outcome will emerge in the years to come is still hard to see. Allot of thoughts crossed my mind on Wednesday night when I attended the Benny Wenda, Free West Papua Concert. But from an Australian perspective, these comments by Daeron on an online forum summed it up quite well for me:

“Despair would be a natural but unproductive reaction to this SMH article yesterday, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/carr-helps-to-remove-the-blinkers-20120305-1ue67.html

Both Bob Carr and Mr Hartcher are products of an American fantasy about Indonesia which benefits Bechtel, Freeport, Exxon, NewMount, Conoco Phillips, to name a few.. Just find a membership listing of the US Indonesia Society lobby to get a full listing. But an Australian foreign minister needs to know the difference between illusion sprouted in US publications and reality, and he needs to understand our regional interests. Bob Carr is a wonderful choice for Indonesia, but not so much for us.I agree the Balinese are a nice people, but Jakarta is not ruled by the people of Indonesia, it is a oligarchy mostly of Indonesian Generals and US corporate interests. The effect of the 1975 invasion of East Timor was that Portugal Oil was replaced by Conoco Phillips, and the effect of the 1962 American deal (the “New York Agreement”) for the UN to trade our neighbours of West Papua to Indonesian rule, was that Freeport got to mine Papua’s gold & copper etc.The NSW Parliament is well aware that West Papua is victim of an illegal UN resolution (resolution 1752 (XVII)) which Australia supported in August 1962, an act which benefited the US corporations and Jakarta but not Australia or our regional interests. Colonialism is good business for Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.; and it is the unspoken Australian policy for the indigenous population of West Papua.Over this coming year watch as Bob Carr, just like Kevin Rudd, refuses to answer a simple question; why did Australia support UN General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII) ?
Posted by Daeron, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 1:49:53 AM”
But putting aside Independence hopes and geopolitical hurdles for a minute, why would a group of people be causing so many issues for Indonesia if they were happy?
.
Benny Wenda opened his speech with a story of how when he was 6 years old he witnessed his mother being struck down by the butt of a gun at the hands of Indonesian Military and then witnessed as two Aunties who came to help his mother were raped before his eyes. All this at the age of 6.
.
It is no wonder that experiences like this from many West Papuan’s have clearly driven them to dispute the fact that they had a legitimate say in self determination in 1962. Again, even if we accepted the UN resolution, has Indonesia given them appropriate rights and services to lead fulfilling lives?
.
I’m no authority on this issue and I’ve never been to West Papua, but as far as I know there are quite allot of unhappy indigenous West Papuan’s in the world today.
.
So what are they going to do about it? Well Governor Parkop announced on the night that he was going to be setting up a West Papua Office in Port Moresby. Globally as well they would be coordinating with the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, the International Lawyers for West Papua and International Musicians to ramp up the Global Campaign for West Papua’s Freedom.
.
I take my hat off to Parkop, this is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue. Below are some pics of the night and here’s a good wrap up of Parkop’s speech here.
.
IMG_2504
IMG_2535
IMG_2563
IMG_2580
IMG_2597
IMG_2634
IMG_2681
IMG_2673
IMG_2708
IMG_2711
IMG_2715

Open Letter from Forkorus in Abepura prison to PNG Prime Minister

Reprinted in full:

FEDERATED REPUBLIC OF WEST PAPUA

ABEPURA PRISON, JAYAPURA, WEST PAPUA

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill
PO Box 472
Port Moresby, NCD 121
Papua New Guinea
5 October 2012

Dear Prime Minister,

Excellency, I am writing from Abepura Prison in Jayapura on the other side of the border, to wish you well during your term as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

I am writing also to thank you for your demonstration of Melanesian leadership last
week in speaking out about human rights violations in West Papua.
We West Papuans have been intimidated, tortured, raped, killed and incarcerated for
decades, since 1962 to be precise, and our suffering has been ignored by the world,
including by the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Island Forum. Your words
last week, committing to some responsibility for your brothers and sisters in West
Papua, filled our hearts and we hope will relieve us somewhat of our burden.

Excellency, security for all my people has been so much worse since our congress in October 2011, and safety levels are now so low that I feel obliged to ask you, if not beg you, to initiate a United Nations’ fact-finding mission as soon as possible.

As you would know, West Papua was a colony of the Netherlands for sixty-four
years, but was transferred to Indonesia in 1962 by way of a duplicitous treaty
engineered by Australia and the United States. (The New York Agreement was in
fact a Cold War transaction that rode over the intentions of the South Pacific
Commission to develop our independence program). As a consequence of Indonesian
governance, which has been deplorable across all measurable sectors, we Melanesian
West Papuans now constitute 48.73% of the population, down from 96.09% fifty year
ago, with more than half-a-million (546,126) missing.

Excellency, during the 3rd Papuan Congress in October 2011, five thousand registered participants mandated the Federated Republic of West Papua to deliver independence, and as part of our liberation win back the western border of Melanesia.

I believe Papua New Guinea under your leadership is in a strong position to help
deliver the political change we need if we are to survive. Your voice, as kin and as
neighbour, will be listened to in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, in the Pacific
Islands Forum, the Africa Caribbean Pacific Committee, and also the United Nations.
I sincerely hope Prime Minister that you are willing to take some responsibility for
ending this occupation so that we in West Papua can take our rightful position
alongside the other Melanesia nation-states.

Yours sincerely,

Forkorus Yaboisembut, SPd
President, Federated Republic of West Papua

Abepura Prison