Report – By Henry Yamo on Rarotonga
While calls from civil society organisations continued this week for Pacific leaders to grant observer status to West Papua amid fresh reports of human rights violations in the Indonesian-ruled Melanesian region, there was little interest in Forum circles.
Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Hamilson Lini told Pacific Scoop that while he supported the call by West Papua to be given observer status, it needed to be a decision by all leaders.
“I support the call by West Papua but I cannot make that decision – it has to be made by all the leaders of the Forum,” he said.
A two-part investigation by the ABC TV 7.30 Report this week carried out by two journalists under cover exposed growing violence against Papuans by military and militia and also made allegations about Australian training of a special force accused over human rights violations.
While Pacific leaders discussed broader security issues on transnational and boarder security as stated in the communiqué, the human rights violations across West Papua and the call for observer status has again fallen on deaf ears.
Lini said the call by the West Papuans for recognition was an issue that was “real and affecting the Melanesian people” of West Papua but it had to be discussed at the leaders level and agreed to by Forum leaders.
The Forum communiqué said the Forum Leaders had welcomed the development of a “human security framework” for the Pacific which would be developed as a strategic guide for the Forum Secretariat and other stakeholders to improve understanding, planning and implementation of human security approaches.
The leaders mapped out ways to embrace emerging security situations although they left out West Papua for consideration.
According to the communiqué, leaders also noted the development of the regional action plan on women, peace and security developed by the Pacific Regional Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.
The Pacific leaders are also keen to see Fiji return to parliamentary democracy in accordance with the Biketawa Declaration.
However, these stand-alone and broader peace, security and development initiatives in the Pacific do not seem to capture the West Papua.
Henry Yamo is a postgraduate student and journalist at AUT University reporting for the Pacific Media Centre.