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Political Statement About Decolonization At FestPac Was Necessary

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Illustrated - Supplied

Illustrated – Supplied

By Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo

DURING the closing ceremony for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, or FestPac, a few Chamoru activists came together to make a political statement. We sacrificed four of our official FestPac wraps and made banners with the following words on them: “Decolonize Oceania” and “Free Guåhan.” And when it was time for the Guåhan delegation to parade onto the main platform, we walked around the Paseo Stadium with these banners.

Why did we take such an action?

It must be understood that this action was necessary for a number of reasons.

First, it was necessary to demonstrate that FestPac is not just an event which highlights the beautiful cultural facets of our Pacific communities — songs, dances, chants, poetry, artwork, food, navigation. It is also an event which should remind us of the historical and political struggles of our peoples, of the social and political unrest in our Pacific Island nations (such as in the Marianas, West Papua, Hawai’i, Kanaky/New Caledonia) and the beauty in our ability to survive hundreds of years of colonialism.

Second, the action was necessary to show that we stand in solidarity with other Pacific islanders’ resistance movements.

Finally, this action was necessary to express the Chamoru situation. Guåhan remains a U.S. colony and Chamorus here have yet to vote for our political status. This is a very big deal, and others throughout the region and around the world need to know about it, and how there is a community of people who stand against the status quo.

And while there seemed to be mixed reactions toward our action (several of our mañaina or elders chanted “Biba Chamoru,” blew their kulo’ shells, and held up our island’s flag; others seemed confused; some even thought that that FestPac was not the appropriate venue for the action), it was an action that made a very clear, very bold statement: We recognize the struggles of our sisters and brothers throughout Oceania, including their movements against different colonial powers, movements regarding climate change and movements against violence toward Pacific islanders.

We stand in solidarity with the Kanaka Maoli, Kanak, Marshallese, i-Kiribati and West Papuans. We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the region who are fighting to keep their cultures thriving, especially in places where they are the minority.

Further, we wanted to inform our local, regional and international communities of the struggle for political self-determination for the Chamoru people of Guåhan, how we have yet to exercise our rights as an indigenous people and how there is a strong movement to politically decolonize and liberate our indigenous community. As the oldest colony in Oceania, it is very important that this message be made known.

The FestPac closing ceremony could not have been a more perfect event to take action and make a political statement. FestPac is not solely a cultural event; it is very much a political event. After all, if it weren’t for the many political movements that occurred throughout the region — with indigenous languages and traditional practices, movements which were rooted in culture — then perhaps major changes in the region would not have been made.

We must stop thinking that we live in an island paradise, a utopia of peace and harmony. Because there is nothing peaceful about our indigenous peoples living on colonies, where we can’t make decisions for ourselves. There is nothing harmonious about being unable to control or even negotiate what the U.S./France/Chile/Taiwan wants to do with our lands. There is nothing utopic about the rejection of our right to decolonize ourselves.

The action that we took at the FestPac closing ceremony was necessary to make a statement, not just for Guåhan, but for the entire Pacific region. The world was watching us that night; hopefully, they heard our message, too. (*)

The author is a resident of Mangilao, Guam

Pasific

Solomon Islands delegation visit to West Papua is ‘a visitation by robbers’

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Jacob Rumbiak (right) – Island Sun

Jayapura, Jubi – United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) spokesperson Jacob Rumbiak has described the recent seven-person delegation from Solomon Islands to West Papua as ‘a visitation by robbers’.

The recent delegation visit to West Papua had included the PMO Chief of Staff John Usuramo, Special Envoy to West Papua Rence Sore, Chairman of FSII Wilfred Luiramo, DSE chairman Inia Barry, Lawrence Makili, Gloreta Anderson and Lilly Chekana.

Speaking during his meeting with SICA General Secretary Holmes Saeve Monday, Rumbiak said a summary of Chekana’s account of their trip given by Holmes highlighting that the West Papuan people are not united is ‘very misleading’.

“I bring voice from inside West Papua as the delegation that recently visited West Papua was like robbers. They came and hid and never met with the people struggling for their right.

“I think they are blind and they do not know what we already have set up.”

He said ULMWP is the answer to their report as they have a Federal Republic of West Papua, a 14 political organisation affiliating with the Federal Republic, six organisations affiliating with West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation, six affiliating with the National Parliament of West Papua being 26 West Papuan organisations already inside.

And the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is a West Papua national political body.

“When someone says we are not united, that is misleading, said Rumbiak.

“They say how can they meet with West Papua, they do not have a leader, no political body and they do not have any agenda. We have an agenda, we have a political body, we have leadership member, adjective, we have a legislative leader and member, judicial leader and member, we got Bureau Officers working inside and Diplomats outside, and the support from the whole region of West Papua including churches (7 religions). They recommended support.

“The movement of West Papua is based on the advice from the Melanesian leaders.”

On meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare last week, Rumbiak said the group should have involved Fiji and Papua New Guinea before visiting independently and should not have allowed the trip to be funded by Indonesia. They should have went and stayed on the ground with the people of West Papua.

The ULMWP spokesperson’s recent visit to Honiara was to meet with the DPM, SICA and organisers of the Melanesian Arts Festival and to reiterate that the recent seven-person delegation from Solomon Islands was done with Indonesian Government incentive for its own interest.

Rumbiak gave a detailed description of the group’s visit to the SICA General Secretary, questioning why the group did not visit and call into various civil and interest groups within West Papua.

Rumbiak described how the protestors went to welcome the Solomon Islands delegates but were instead arrested.

He showed videos of the documentaries about the atrocities in WP and a protestor who was arrested during the group’s stay there.

SOURCE: Island Suns

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Mama Yosepha Met Pacific’s Catholic Church Leaders

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Mama Yosepha Alomang, Markus Haluk, and the interpreter were talking to Cardinal Ribat and Cardinal Mafi – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – After the closing of the Federation of Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania that held in Port Moresby from 12 to 16 April 2018, Mama Yosepha Alomang met two Pacific Catholic Church leaders: the Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat, and the Archbishop of Tonga Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, on 17 April 2018. Mama Yosepha accompanied by a Papuan Catholic figure Markus Haluk during the meeting.

In the meeting, she gave the Cardinals two noken (Papua’s traditional bag) of the morning star and Papuan motives to express a message of natural resources deprivation that leads to the human rights violations and religious and moral degradation. She entrusted her message to both cardinals for the World’s Catholic Church Leader the Pope Francis in the Vatican.

“I am hanging these bones on the shoulders of Cardinal John and Cardinal Mafi who are the representatives of the Holy Father Pope Francis,” said Mama Yosepha while hanging the nokens to the necks of both cardinals.

She believed that the Catholic Church leaders, especially the Pope Francis, must speak about the death occurred in West Papuans due to the repression of the Indonesian Government. She told the Cardinals that the murders still continue to prevent self-determination as well as to exploit the natural resources. “They keep arresting and murdering us because of the picture of the morning star in this noken,” she said.

She further said the Catholic Church leaders in Pacific and the world should speak up to protect the life and nature of Papuans. Praying and doing a real action should be urgent for the church at the moment. “If the Pope does not pray for us, Papuans, we must be dead. The church is our support and last hope. You must take care of us,” she hoped.

Meanwhile, Markus Haluk, who accompanied Mama Yosepha and also the Head of the ULMWP Coordination Office in West Papua, said he appreciated her tireless spirit and struggle. “Mama Yosepha handed over the nokens and her message to Cardinal Mafi and Cardinal John with a stammered and teary voice,” he said.

In separated place, Dominikus Surabut, the chairman-elect of the Papuan Customary Council, said the Catholic Church should listen to the voice of Papuan people. Papuans have waited so long for a protective prophetic voice. Papuans have waited so long for a protective prophetic voice. “The church has long been silent. Therefore the Catholic Church in Pacific should open the silent door of the Catholic Church in Papua, Indonesia,” he told the reporter on Thursday (19/4/2018) in Expo Waena, Jayapura City Papua. (*)

 

Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Pipit Maizier 

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Indigenous Peoples of Papua

West Papua Solidarity for PNG launched

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Candles Action and West Papua Solidarity for the victims of the earthquake in PNG launched in Lingkaran Abepura. – Jubi/Dok.

Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua Solidarity for the earthquake victims in Papua New Guinea has been launched on Monday, 12 March 2018 in Lingkaran Abepura, Jayapura City, Papua.

“Starting today, we are in solidarity,” the Coordinator of West Papua Solidarity Sem Awom read his statement in front of hundreds of students and youth activists in Abepura.

He said the act of solidarity is aimed to express sympathy for their brothers in PNG who were died, injured or traumatized in the recent earthquake. He also said the victims certainly need supports from the people of Papua, Melanesia and the world as well. “This solidarity has to break all boundaries,” said Awom.

Another Papuan activist Nelius Wenda said the earthquake that stroked Papua New Guinea has reminded him of the solidarity and ties of Papuan brotherhood. “We actually have a common ancestor, but separated by State border,” he said.

When the earthquake happened, he said, Papuans grieved for the victims who died and injured. “We will do our best,” said Wenda.

Separately, the Secretary of West Papua Solidarity Kristianus Dogopia said fund raising to help the victims would continue until the end of the month. “We will come to houses and student dormitories to collect the funds. We will also speak to the church leaders to get involved in this fund raising,” he said. (*)

 

Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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