On February 4 a coalition uniting the resistance of Indonesian-occupied West Papua submitted an application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The application’s prospects were boosted by remarks made on February 5 by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O’Neil. Breaking from PNG’s previous stance of recognising Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua and being silent on human rights issues there, said, “Sometimes, we forget our own families, our own brothers, especially those in West Papua. I think as a country, the time has come to speak for our people about the oppression there.
“Pictures of brutality of our people appear daily on social media and yet, we take no notice. We have the moral obligation to speak for those who are not allowed to talk. We must be the eyes for those who are blindfolded.”
Submitting their application for MSG membership, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua issued the following press release.
* * *
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), a newly formed West Papuan coordinating body comprised of the three main resistance groups — namely the Federal Republic of West Papua, West Papua National Parliament and West Papua National Coalition for Liberation — have submitted their application for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
During a historic ceremony on the steps of the MSG Secretariat, ULMWP Secretary General Octovanius Mote formally handed the application to the MSG’s director general, Peter Forau.
The ULMWP has now lodged both an application for full membership, as well as a Constitution, to guide the newly unified Papuan resistance as it continues its diplomatic push for self-determination.
ULMWP Secretary General Mote said: “Today, the hearts of our Papuan people are with us as we make this application to be properly recognised by the family of Melanesia. We believe we have fulfilled the criteria asked of us by the MSG and we trust the MSG will process our application with due deliberation.
“At the MSG summit in Noumea, the leaders endorsed our inalienable right to self-determination, but asked us to unify under one group so as to be representative of all the Papuan people. Last December, we achieved this unification during a historic reconciliation meeting here in Port Vila and thanks to the support of both the Vanuatu government and Pacific Council of Churches.”
ULMWP spokesman Benny Wenda said: “We believe this is an urgent matter to resolve because of the ongoing atrocities committed by the Indonesian military and the program of transmigration, which is accelerating and, according to current trends, means that indigenous Papuans will make up only 28% of the population by 2020.
“Since the election of its new government, we are only seeing an increase in Indonesia’s military presence and intimidation, so we place our hope and trust in our fellow Melanesians to recognise that our struggle is just. We are not just defending our homeland, we are defending Melanesia.”
Edison Kladius Waromi SH, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of West Papua, has endorsed the ULMWP’s application, saying: “Today, we are happy. The Papuan resistance has unified under the ULMWP leadership and is now the only recognised group with a mandate to seek MSG membership. We ask our brothers and sisters in the region not to abandon us.”
It is expected that the MSG will make a decision on West Papua’s application during an MSG leaders summit in the Solomon Islands in July this year.
[Abridged from the website of the Office of Benny Wenda.]