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West Papuan leaders make bid for MSG membership in Vanuatu

Melanesian Solidarity Group Director-General Peter Forau (right) receives the application from West Papuan John Ondowame (left). Image: Jubi/WPNCL [1]

Melanesian Solidarity Group Director-General Peter Forau (right) receives the application from West Papuan John Ondowame (left). Image: Jubi/WPNCL

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By┬áVictor Mambor in Jayapura

Officials from the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) have submitted an application for Melanesian Spearhead Group membership at the organisation’s headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The WPNCL officials had a one hour meeting recently with Director-General Peter Forau of the MSG. The delegation comprised the WPNCL’s vice-chairman, secretary-general, head of the Vanuatu mission, a woman representative and a student and youth representative.

They were accompanied by former Prime Minister and staunch advocate for West Papuan independence, Barak Sope Maautamate and a representative from the FLNKS of Kanaky/New Caledonia.

Director-General Forau received the application on behalf of the chairman. He said he would send the application to the current MSG Chairman, Frank Banimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji.

He added that his role was only facilitating the process but he had no decision-making power on the issue.

It would be the chairman and the leaders in the MSG who would decide.

The vice-chairman of WPNCL, Dr John Ondawame, thanked the director-general and staff for making it possible for the submission.

Historic occasion
He said this was a historic occasion that also marked the beginning of concerted efforts this year to advance the cause.

“We hope this will encourage Indonesia to take necessary steps to resolve the issue,” he said.

“Being a member is also natural because we are an inseparable part of the Melanesian family.

“For years our efforts to take the issue back to the UN was hindered by lack of official support by the Independent States in Melanesia.”

The head of the Vanuatu mission of WPNCL, Andy Ayamiseba, added that being a member would be a “confirmation of our identity as Melanesian people”.

“We cannot deny this fact to our future generations,” he said.

Women representative Bernarda Edoway Douw made a compassionate plea for West Papuan women, mothers and children who had “suffered in silence” year after year.

Gender discrimination
“The Papuan women are discriminated against in the market place in the employment sector and in education opportunities. Being a member will raise the profile of West Papua especially for the women,” she said.

Amatus Douw, speaking on behalf of students and youth, highlighted the “real life experience” of marginalisation in West Papua.

He said that population decline was caused by a deliberate policy of the Indonesian government.

Barak Sope Maautamate elaborated on the historical facts of the creation of the MSG. It was created at the time when there was “bloody resistance” to French colonial rule in Kanaky and “our efforts to address the issue did not receive a desired resolve by many governments”.

Sope added that even the UN Decolonisation Committee was established for the independent struggles.

The secretary-general, Rex Rumakiek, said that being a member of this sub-regional institution carried “heavy responsibilities” which WPNCL fully understood.

“Given the opportunity, WPNCL will do its best to shoulder the same responsibilities with the other members to protect Melanesia against harmful external threats such as terrorism, illegal trade, distortion of social ecology and bio-diversity, economic domination and unfair trade practices,” he said.

Source: Jubi Tabloid [2]