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ULMWP grieves over the death of Vanuatu President

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The late Baldwin Lonsdale, President Vanuatu (1950 – 2017) – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua’s London-based Global campaigner Independence Leader for West Papua and Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, has sent condolences on behalf of the people of West Papua to the Government and people of Vanuatu on the sudden passing of the President of Vanuatu, Baldwin ‘Womtelo’ Lonsdale, on June 17.

“On behalf of the people of West Papua and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, I would like to pay our sincerest condolences and respects to a true Melanesian hero, the President of Vanuatu His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale,” Wenda said.

According to him the President was and remains a true inspiration for the people of West Papua and did so much to help support us and our struggle for freedom. “People inside West Papua, in refugee camps and those living in exile will all remember him and his life’s message,”

Lonsdale was an outspoken supporter of Melanesian solidarity. In 2014, ULMWP wrote, he was key in helping the formation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. “President Lonsdale was also a renowned statesman, universally loved across Melanesia who took a firm stance against corruption and passionately advocated for human rights,” said Wenda.

“He will be dearly missed by all the people of West Papua who continue to suffer under illegal Indonesian occupation and genocide but do not suffer alone while we have such brave supporters like President Lonsdale,” said Wenda while encouraging other Melanesian and Pacific nations to follow Vanuatu’s example, and saying “It is a challenge for the Pacific, especially Melanesian brothers to stand united with them”.(*)

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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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Planning honeymoon to Papua, Belinda Lopez was detained in Denpasar

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Belinda Lopez while being held in a room at Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar Bali – Belinda Lopez Facebook

Jayapura, Jubi – Belinda Lopez, an Australian doctoral student who conducted a study on Indonesia and Papua, was denied entry by local immigration officers in Denpasar, Bali.

She was then detained in a room at Ngurah Rai Airport from Friday midnight (08/03/2018) to Saturday afternoon (08/04/2018) when Jubi confirmed her via telephone. “I was not allowed to board before 10 pm today, so I was in detention for almost 24 hours before being deported,” said the doctoral candidate of the Cultural Study Program at Macquarie University, Sydney

She also posted about her detention on her Facebook account asking for the reason behind her arrest and deportation plan to immigration officers. However, instead of answering her question, those officers asked her if she was a journalist and has she ever done something wrong in Indonesia?

“The officer asked me at the airport ‘was I a journalist?’ They also asked if I ever had something wrong for Indonesia. I explained that I was on vacation and planned to visit some friends in Bali, Java and come to the Baliem Festival in Papua,” said Lopez who just got married last week in Sydney, Australia.

Separately, Victor Mambor, a senior journalist in Papua who profoundly involved in advocating open access for foreign journalists to Papua, confirmed to Jubi on Saturday (08/04/2018) that such cases are increasingly raising a question of the international community about the freedom of forest journalist to cover news in Indonesia.

“I don’t have information why she was detained. She was an editor in two media in Indonesia. So I think it most likely because of her status as a journalist in the past and her planning to visit Papua to watch the Baliem Valley Festival. Moreover, she was asked to leave Papua two years ago,” said Mambor. (*)

Reporter: Zely Ariane

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papuan Liberation Movement wants dialogue

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Members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua at a Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in 2013: Paula Makabori, Dr John Ondawame, Rex Rumakiek. – RNZ / Johnny Blades

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua supports the idea of dialogue with Indonesia as long as it is mediated internationally, the movement’s secretary says.

Indonesia’s government of Joko Widodo has recently made overtures to West Papuan customary and civil society leaders for dialogue over a range of issues in Papua region.

Secretary Rex Rumakiek said the push for dialogue was not a bad thing.

“But dialogue internationally, not Indonesian type of dialogue that resulted in 1969’s Act of Free Choice. That’s the type of dialogue Indonesia wants. We are not going to go back to that approach,” Mr Rumakiek said.

“We want an international dialogue and the best place to dialogue is the United Nations general assembly. Let us vote on the issue.”

The movement hoped to have questions over the legitimacy of the self-determination act under which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia debated by the UN General Assembly in the next year or two, Mr Rumakiek said.

Since being admitted to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2015 with observer status in the regional grouping, the movement has had more opportunities to engage with Indonesia, which enjoys associate member status in the MSG.

The dynamic between the two parties, however, is clearly strained, as Indonesia’s government has characterised the movement as a separatist group that does not represent Papuans.

The full MSG members – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks – have been working to facilitate dialogue between the movement and Indonesia

“We can talk direct to them with the MSG members as witnesses. That is what we call a third party” Mr Rumakiek explained.

“We cannot talk direct to Indonesia by ourselves, but with the MSG facilitating. We try to avoid other people speaking on our behalf. The MSG is trying to arrange for meetings (between the West Papuans and Indonesia’s government).”

Meanwhile, the Australia-based Mr Rumakiek said the movement was disturbed by the reports from Papua’s remote Nduga regency that Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army had exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.

Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army – which is not directly linked to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua – claimed responsibility.

Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to Nduga as part of a joint operation.

They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.

The Indonesian aerial operations over Alguru echoed previous military operations in the area, which devastated the livelihoods of Papuan villagers, Mr Rumakiek said.

“They are applying the same strategy that they bomb villages and chasing the people who live in the bush, so the after effects are much more serious than the actual destruction itself,” he said.

“Those people, when they come back to their village there will be nothing left for them to return to because the schools and clinics are destroyed and the churches are destroyed.”

But in a statement, Indonesia’s military said reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs in Nduga were a hoax.

Military forces were working with police in “law enforcement activities” in Alguru, it said. (*)

 

Source: radionz.co

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