Pacific Scoop

West Papua calls for dialogue and action from the Pacific Forum

Press Release:

“We are the most vulnerable community in the Pacific”

West Papua welcomes the opening statement today from the Forum Secretary General, Mr. Tuiloma Nerom Slade highlighting that one of the themes of this year’s Forum is to “Protect the most vulnerable communities within the Pacific”.

In light of this it is the sincere hope of the West Papuan people, who continue to suffer under Indonesian rule, that the Forum will not keep ignoring the genocide and will actively address the truely vulnerable communities in West Papua.

Church and NGO groups claim more than 100,000 people have died during the past 40 years of Indonesian rule. We are surely the most vulnerable community in the Pacific and we would like to take the Secretary General at his word.

For too long the West Papuan issue has been swept under the tapa mat of Forum meetings, but if the Forum is to truly represent all Pacific peoples it must confront the occupation of West Papua.

Last week 50 members of the US Congress signed a letter calling on the Obama administration to make West Papua “a high priority” since it faces “slow genocide”. Last month tens of thousands of Papuans demonstrated throughout West Papua calling for a referendum on independence and rejecting Indonesia’s autonomy policy.

Forum leaders should also be aware that Indonesia was represented recently at Commodore Bainimara’s “Engaging Fiji” meeting in Fiji, offering support to what is fast becoming a rival alternative to the Forum. Indonesia is clearly playing a “double game” and will do its best to prevent West Papua from being on the agenda.

We also question why Indonesia has brought at least 15 “official” members to this Forum dialogue and how much pressure they are applying on the Vanuatu government to change its support for the West Papuan people. We have great confidence that having sponsored the recent motion in Vanuatu’s parliament, that Prime Minister Natapei will raise the West Papuan issue at the leaders retreat and not bend to overtures by Indonesia. Vanuatu has shown great regional leadership and we extend our appreciation for their on-going support.

West Papuan leaders plan to have a press conference following the leaders retreat on Thursday. A venue and time will be announced shortly.