After six year, the issue of West Papua will surfaced again at the regional Pacific islands leaders’ forum.
The last time the key regional political unit of the Pacific talked about West Papua was back in 2009 during the 40th Pacific islands forum (PIF) which took place in Cairns, Australia. During that forum, there was lobbying for West Papua to be given observer status, and there was also was small talk amongst leaders to consider the idea.
In past years, the forum has noted its concern about the growing human rights abuses in West Papua. However, the 40th PIF communiqué had no mention of West Papua because of pressure from Australia to keep it off the forum’s agenda.
This time around the 46th Pacific leaders’ forum scheduled from the 7th to the 11th of September in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) will challenge our island leaders. The issue of West Papua is one of top five priority issues on the leader’s agenda.
The challenge remains for the region’s top players such as PNG and Fiji who share the same foreign stance as Australia and New Zealand, respecting the sovereignty of Indonesia.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) together with solidarity groups in the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand are calling on our leaders to send a human rights fact finding mission to West Papua.
The ULMWP’s Secretary General, Octovianus Mote, said he is hoping our Pacific leaders will not object this humanitarian fact-finding mission.
Mr Mote told Radio New Zealand International recently that the mission must seek an independent, multi-disciplinary group.
“So, not only government delegations but really with human rights experts, journalists, so it can really dig into what’s happened in West Papua in the past 53 years. Otherwise, we West Papuans are crying for the creeping genocide that’s taking place.”
Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have made known their support for West Papua.
Current chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the Solomon Islands Government has appointed a special envoy on West Papua to look into regional and international issues relating to West Papua.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has also made the assurance to the ULMWP that Samoa will be supporting West Papua’s plea.