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Two Issues on West Papua Case Raised in PIF

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The meeting of CSOs representatif and Troika Forum - Jubi/Victor Mambor

The meeting of CSOs representatif and Troika Forum – Jubi/Victor Mambor

Pohnpei, Jubi – Pacific civil society organisation representatives have put in a strong bid for Pacific leaders to support the involvement of the United Nations in the case of the people of West Papua.

This was one of the key points CSO reps submitted during their scheduled breakfast meeting in Pohnpei today with members of the Pacific Islands Forum troika, comprising the past, current and future chair of the 16-member island group.

Outgoing chair and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neil was absent from today’s breakfast as he is not due to arrive into the FSM until later today. His Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato stood in for him.

“What was encouraging in the dialogue was the consideration and the recognition that the United Nations process is available,” head of the Pacific Islands NGO Association, Emele Duituturaga told journalists at the end of the breakfast meeting.

“We detected an acceptance that this possibly could be one of the pathways. I think the difference is that up until now, we always thought this is a Melanesian issue. In our recommendations, we tried to assist our leaders recognise some of the bilateral arrangements, bilateral assistance that somehow might be hindering the options we need to look at.”

Speaking to journalists at the end of the breakfast meeting, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi confirmed that the CSO reps raised the issue of West Papua, but declined to be drawn into what the Forum leaders would decide.

“There are two issues involved here, that is human rights and self determination. Human rights is okay, we can address it in a normal situation but when it comes to the issue of self determination, then there are processes that we must follow.

“In saying this, I did mention that what arises in West Papua is very similar to the situation of what my own country went through when we agitated to become independent. Of course later the

United Nations came in and guide us along the path to final independence in 1962. So the processes are there, and those are the formal ones to take.”

Pushed by Pacnews as to what his recommendations would be to his fellow leaders when they meet on Saturday at the debate chamber of the FSM Congress for their annual retreat, Tuilaepa replied: “Well its already incorporated, and we will discuss this at the retreat. At this time your question has been posed but I cannot disclose to you what we will talk about. This is why we arrange the meeting of the Forum to have retreats so that we can discuss.”

Pacnews: As next year’s chair of Forum, will you push for some concrete decision on West Papua? Many submissions have been received from the people of the Pacific for action on West Papua, just like last year’s Forum, but last year’ Forum did nothing on West Papua.

PM Tuilaepa: Yes, (laughs) you are trying to speculate. Never speculate on sensitive issues.

Pacnews: So would you like to put the speculations to rest sir?

PM Tuilaepa: All I can say is, have faith in God!

Ms Duituturaga told Pacnews later that her group of 16 CSO reps gave “all they wanted to submit” at today’s meeting, and it is now up to the leaders to decide. Her group also raised the issues of youth unemployment, gender based violence, disability, decolonisation and self-determination.

The breakfast meeting at Cliff Rainbow Hotel on the waterfront of Pohnpei went overtime, finishing more than one hour behind schedule. Prime Minister Tuilaepa has offered to upgrade the dialogue with CSO when his country hosts the Forum next year.

“Dialogue with the 16 governments of our Pacific leaders Forum can only be all inclusive when they address these issues and all the 16 leaders listen. If there are only 5 of us, we are the only ones that will benefit from their direct views and contributions.

“It does not mean that we will fully convey all the issues. We are in an imperfect world where many things can happen and we may not be able to convey 100% the issues they have raised. It is better that they voice their aspirations in the presence of all the 16 leaders. In that way, there is no secondary information. It comes straight from the horse’s mouth.”

The Forum Leaders summit proper gets underway tomorrow at the Gymnasium of the College of Micronesia in Palikir, Pohnpei. Today, the Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific grouping, are meeting to discuss common issues, including the collapsed trade negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

The Forum meeting will conclude on Sunday with the traditional Post Forum Dialogue where Forum leaders or their representatives meet and consult with donor governments and development partners. (*)

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ULMWP appeals to PIF for support on West Papua issue at UN

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United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leaders (L to R), Octovianus Mote, Benny Wenda and Rex Rex Rumakiek – Jubi

“There are two topics in the West Papuan struggle; one — Pacific leaders facing natural disasters and two – we in West Papua are facing genocide in our country.

“In addition West Papua is also saving the planet because as the second largest rain forest after the Amazon, we simply say politically, West Papua is the lung of the world and by saving it; we are also saving the world. Who knows what is going to happen in one hundred years’ time because the islands are sinking. West Papua can become the home of the Pacific (people) during sea level rise. I always tell Pacific leaders that when you save West Papua, you save the Pacific. When Vanuatu presents the West Papua Case to PIF, it is our prayer that other Pacific leaders will also support Vanuatu to take West Papua to the UN Decolonisation Committee”.

That is the message of the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, to the Pacific Islands Forum’s 49th Session at Nauru this week.

Member of Parliament for Ambrym Albert William says what Father Walter Lini said about West Papua is true that Vanuatu must continue to support freedom for West Papua.

“Now the issue of climate change has reached critical stage in West Papua and especially seeing what is happening in nearby Australia now. The signs are there. It is visible, you can feel it, you can see it. The Great Barrier Reef is facing a lot of stress from the negative excessive impact of development. It is a threat to all the reefs of the islands. When there is no reef, there is no fish and there is no food for humanity. The Australian Government has no other way but to step in to help farmers who are facing drought now”.

That is the view of MP William, a former Director of the Department of Environment of the Vanuatu Government.

He entered the Grand Hotel to join members of the ULMWP Executive as it finalised its stand ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum 49th Meeting in Nauru, where climate change is one of the prominent issues on the agenda.

Speaking for Geobjects, an organization that has developed a software to help Governments to better manage their environments while the Governments are allowing private companies and international conglomerates to exploit natural resources like what the American company is doing mining mineral resources in the second largest open cast mine in the world at Free Port Mine in West Papua, Geobjects Global Operations Manager Paul Montague of Australia says the advantage of the software is that it shows all the impacts of such giant or minimum developments and also predicts what is going to happen in the future.

Montagne says the software was developed to help Governments in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to better equip themselves in the way they allow their natural resources to be exploited.

Asked how a member country of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) can have access to the software, Montagne explains, “We would go into the countries that are interested in our product and sit down with them and try and establish a base line.

Asked if a PIF country has shown interest in the software, Montagne says countries further afield including Nigeria and Chana in Africa and the African Union have shown interests in the software.

While on the subject of Africa, he says the challenges facing Africa are similar to West Papua where foreign companies set up to reap the benefits from the countries’ natural resources while on the long run, leaving behind environmental damages difficult to correct.

Chairman of Liberation Movement of West Papua Benny Wenda says his country has become a regional issue and cannot go away from the PIF. “So far Vanuatu has been the only country to talk about the plight of West Papua but now we need more leaders from the Pacific to take up the West Papua issue. For example the PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil has already stated that West Papua has to be taken back to the UN and so the Pacific has to be duty bound to take the case to the UN”, Wenda says.

“We are not asking the Pacific to invade Indonesia, we are asking them to sit down and discuss the issue as to whether the UN or Indonesia is right or wrong. We have to revisit the West Papua Issue. As members of the UN, Pacific leaders have a moral obligation to bring this case to the UN.

The human rights issues in West Papua are getting worse and worse. Last month in August, 49 West Papuan students were arrested across West Papua; killings and rapes by Indonesian soldiers are happening. Even last month in Dunga, there were displacement of Melanesians and human atrocities but nobody was there to report on the issues while Indonesia is assuring Melanesians, Polynesian and Micronesians that they are the good guys promoting democracy in the islands. But you cannot bring development on top of suffering. (*)

By Len Garae for Vanuatu Daily.

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PIANGO wants Pacific leaders to commit over West Papua

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Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia’s military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua’s Highlands. Photo: RNZ / Suara Wiyaima

Pasific, Jubi – Pacific Island civil society says the Pacific Island Forum leaders must support Vanuatu’s effort to take the issue of West Papua to the UN.

The executive director of the civil society umbrella group, PIANGO, or the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations, Emele Duituturaga, said they continue to be concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Indonesia’s Papuan provinces.

Ms Duituturaga said the issue of West Papua has been on the leaders agenda for decades without evident progress.

She said PIANGO had raised its concerns over the last two years, but nothing had changed.

Her organisation has called for a UN Special Rapporteur on West Papua to investigate continued human rights violations; support for a UN General Assembly Resolution to include West Papua on the UN Decolonisation List; and scrutiny of development co-operation with Indonesia and participation in the Pacific Island Forum.

Selected people representing civil society will meet with Pacific leaders next week at the leaders’ summit in Nauru. (*)

 

Source: radionz.co

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What Drives Indonesia’s Pacific Island Strategy?

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Jakarta is courting Pacific Island states, hoping to change regional positions on the West Papua issue. -Image Credit: Flickr / Ahmad Syauki

 By Grant Wyeth

Indonesia has recently been lifting its presence in the Pacific, courting a number of Pacific Island countries in an attempt to quell the region’s sympathies for the independence movement in the Indonesian province of West Papua.

A particular recent focus has been on boosting relations with a number of Micronesian states as a way of gaining influence in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). In July, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) visited Jakarta, holding talks with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Indonesia also has instigated plans to open a consulate in the FSM. Previously, Indonesian consular services in the region were run out of its Tokyo embassy. In February, an Indonesian cabinet minister was dispatched to Nauru for the tiny island’s 50th anniversary of independence, bringing with him a Papuan band. Both Nauru and Tuvalu have recently expressed support for Jakarta’s regional development programs in West Papua.

Beyond Micronesia, in April a delegation from the Melanesian state of Solomon Islands was invited to tour Indonesia’s West Papua and Papua provinces, which seems to have led to a review of Solomon Islands policy toward West Papua. Shifts in position toward the Indonesian province from Nauru, Tuvalu, and potentially Solomon Islands would be considered a significant victory for Jakarta, which previously accused these countries of “misusing” their platforms at the United Nations General Assembly to be critical of Indonesia’s policies in West Papua.

This increased Indonesian outreach comes during the ongoing deliberation over the application of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an issue that seems to have divided the organization. In late-July the Director-General of the MSG stated that discussions on the situation in West Papua don’t belong in the forum. However, last week Vanuatu appointed a special envoy to the restive province.

Vanuautu remains the most staunch supporter of the West Papuan independence movement, and it is a sentiment held strongly by both political elites and civil society within the country. Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman, who was a driving force behind Indonesia gaining observer status to the MSG, was forced to resign from office in 2013 partly due to a public suspicion that he was too close to Indonesia. The then-incoming prime minister swiftly cancelled a defense agreement with Indonesia, which had Jakarta providing equipment and assistance to the Vanuatu police.

In 2013, with Fiji suspended from the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), Fiji’s then-military dictator, Frank Bainimarama sought to set up the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) as a competitor to the PIF. At the following year’s forum then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) paid a three day visit to Fiji and delivered a keynote address to the PIDF, pledging $20 million over five years to climate change and natural disaster-proofing initiatives. Since then, Fiji’s opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) has claimed Indonesia has given military support to Fiji in exchange for support for West Papua, and for Indonesia’s observer status in the MSG. The relationship between Fiji and Indonesia seems to be seen by Bainimarama has a potential bridge for Fiji into Asia, by-passing Australia, and for Indonesia, as a way to gain the support of one of the region’s more powerful actors.

The issue continues to create complexity within the Pacific’s Melanesian states. Recently Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has advocated the issue of West Papuan independence be taken to the United Nations decolonization committee. However, the land border that PNG shares with Indonesia has constrained its ability to forcefully advocate for the West Papuan cause. And PNG’s own secessionist movement in Bougainville also requires Port Moresby to tread carefully for fear of reciprocal interference in its own affairs. (*)

 

Source: thediplomat.com

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