Thursday, February 13, 2014

1) MSG cohesion in doubt?

1) MSG cohesion in doubt?
2) MSG meets to seek answers from delegation


Islands Business Magazine Feb 2014

1) MSG cohesion in doubt?

‘…Vanuatu is forcing the rest of the MSG to take a stand on West Papua—something that is bound to test the integrity of the grouping in the months and years to come. Its boycott of the leaders’ visit to Indonesia, which incidentally has observer status in the MSG grouping—is rooted in its conviction and clearly not mere politicking’
The apparent cohesiveness among the MSG (Melanesian Spearhead Group) member nations suffered a body blow last month when Vanuatu firmly and unambiguously boycotted an MSG leaders’ official tour of Indonesia.
This is the first time that such open dissent in the group has hit the news headlines since the formal establishment of the inter-governmental organisation in 2007, though there have been rumblings of dissent on other issues before.
In 2010, it was the only nation in the MSG grouping that failed to attend the ‘Engaging Fiji’ meeting, which was held in Fiji and which leaders from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands—the three other major member nations of the MSG—attended along with the leaders of Kiribati and Tuvalu.
The meeting was perceived in the media as an alternative to the annual Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting. Fiji stands suspended from the Forum grouping. Vanuatu was conspicuous by its absence.
The country has a history of standing its ground on principles and in support of what its people believe in.
Its opposition-led boycott of the MSG leaders’ visit to Indonesia is based on its strong belief in the West Papuan cause, which unfortunately has a few friends and supporters internationally.
This is despite a consistent stream of reports about human rights abuse, the mysterious disappearance of activists and journalists, the rampant looting of natural resources in collusion with Indonesian authorities and the ruthless silencing of dissenting voices for decades now.
It must be said, though, that there is a growing number of non-government organisations and activists lending their voice to the West Papuans’ unfortunate plight, particularly in New Zealand and Australia.
Within the Pacific Islands region, however, Vanuatu happens to be the only sovereign state that has assiduously stood up for the people of West Papua and their cause since its independence.
It’s founding Prime Minister, the late Father Walter Lini, had said Vanuatu would never be fully free until other colonised countries including West Papua were politically freed.
Vanuatu’s boycott of the leaders’ visit to Indonesia is rooted in its conviction and clearly not mere politicking.
The joint visit by Melanesian leaders was decided last year at the MSG leaders’ summit that took place in Noumea, New Caledonia. The purpose of the meeting was to examine the status of the province of Papua—something that would have greatly interested the Vanuatu delegation because of the country’s deep and abiding interest and its concern for the people of West Papua.
According to Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Edward Natapei, the agenda in West Papua was not revealed until the very last moment and when it was, Vanuatu found that the Indonesian hosts had ignored the conditions on which Vanuatu had agreed to participate in the high profile mission.
Vanuatu had said it would only be part of the delegation if it were given the opportunity to meet West Papuan civil society and pro-independence groups, church leaders and others concerned with the alleged human rights violations in the beleaguered territory.
That request was ignored, which the delegation found out on the eve of its departure to Jakarta.
That is when Vanuatu pulled the plug.
Vanuatu must be commended for its principled stand, rooting for people of its ethnicity, which have been much wronged following unfortunate historical circumstances.
The people of the large resource-rich region, which shares a border straddling the entire width of the island north to south with Papua New Guinea, have been callously and violently suppressed for more than two generations now and their Indonesian masters continue to plunder their natural wealth under the most controversial of methods.
Vanuatu has always held the cause of the West Papua people close to their hearts and rarely shied away from supporting it vocally. This is not to say that other countries of the MSG grouping have not.
Their support has always been muted compared to Vanuatu’s. But it is surprising that Vanuatu had to go on this boycott on its own, without even so much as a murmur from its co-members of the Melanesian brotherhood.
In standing firm and standing alone, the country has risked opprobrium from Indonesia, a key trade partner for the MSG as a group and a co-signatory to a number of accords including the region’s fisheries.
It is unlikely that Indonesia would contemplate isolating it in any way because it should know that as a bloc, the MSG is strongly united and would not brook mistreatment of any of its member nations.
How it has stood for Fiji in the face of adverse regional reaction is a case in point.
Earlier last year, Natapei, then the Leader of the Opposition, demanded the withdrawal of the Kilman-led Vanuatu Government’s cooperation agreement with Jakarta and also appealed to the MSG leadership to review Indonesia’s observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) ahead of last year’s Noumea meeting.
That might have clearly incensed the powers that be in Jakarta. Last month’s action might well prove a turning point in Vanuatu’s relationship with not only Indonesia but also within the MSG, though the MSG Secretariat has refused to comment publicly on Vanuatu’s stand.
While West Papuan activists and leaders welcomed Vanuatu’s stand and continuing support, they also said that a crackdown on their activists ahead of the MSG leaders’ carefully choreographed mere half-day visit to Jayapura in West Papua, prevented any of them interacting with the visiting leaders.
In Natapei’s words, the MSG leaders’ agenda was hijacked and as the West Papuan leaders alluded to, the leaders met people and visited places that the Jakarta administration wanted them to see.
Vanuatu is already a staunch supporter of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, which is the organisation representing the people of the territory, to be admitted to the MSG in the same capacity as New Caledonia’s FLNKS (Front de LibĂ©ration Nationale Kanak et Socialiste or Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front).
It is not a demand that will go down well with Indonesia and remains to be seen as to how the MSG Secretariat will react, when push comes to shove.
In the meantime, Vanuatu is forcing the rest of the MSG to take a stand on West Papua—something that is bound to test the integrity of the grouping in the months and years to come.
Islands Business Magazine Feb 2014

2) MSG meets to seek answers from delegation
 By Robert Matau
The Melanesian Spearhead Group heads into further talks this month to seek more answers from the MSG mission that failed to meet indigenous West Papuan leaders in West Papua last month.
Whilst new MSG chairman Victor Tutugoro who is also spokesperson for the Front de Libération Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) in New Caledonia has not revealed the agenda he has called for the meeting days after the delegation returned from the mission.
Tutugoro says the meeting will take place in Port Vila in the middle of this month (February).
The MSG delegation to Indonesia was represented by Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato; Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister, Soalaoi Clay Forau; and FLNKS representative, Yvonne Faua.
Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Edward Natapei, withdrew from the mission because the itinerary excluded meetings with groups concerned about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua.

West Papua snub

West Papuan leaders have expressed disappointment towards the apparent snub from the MSG mission.
What had begun as a desire to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), as per their request at the MSG summit in Noumea last year, was snuffed out by Indonesia’s refusal to let the MSG leaders meet indigenous West Papuan leaders last month.
It looks like attempts to accommodate West Papua’s request to join the MSG club may look remote.
The West Papua National Council for Liberation was invited to the MSG summit in Noumea last year where they sought to become a member of the MSG.
However, it seems economic development and bilateral ties took precedence over the MSG membership and other concerns of West Papuans.
A group of West Papuan protestors staged a small but aggressive protest on January 16, at the hotel where MSG leaders were staying.
West Papuan Kilion Wenda sent ISLANDS BUSINESS youtube links of the protests showing them shouting down the motorcade of Melanesian leaders.
The MSG leaders were stopped by a group of 20 West Papuan protestors at the entrance of Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta where the MSG leaders were staying.
Hotel security personnel, some armed with iron baseball bats tried to ward off the protestors with little effect.
“The protestors shouted at the MSG delegation and the Indonesian officials raising their concerns at the failure of the delegation to meet West Papuan leaders,” Wenda said.
All eyes are now on the upcoming MSG meeting where the West Papuans are hoping they will get another chance to present their case to the MSG.


Flood in Jayapura City (Jubi)

Jayapura, 12/2 (Jubi) – land exploitation is to blame for  floods and landslides that have hit Kota Jayapura, Papua, a member of Jayapura city council (DPRD) said  . 
“Because of a lack of control from the local government in particular the Department of City Planning who have not been selective in granting construction permits either to developers or individuals, therefore the protected forest areas have also been affected,”  DPRD member of  Commission C, Chistian Kondobua said told by phone on Wednesday (12/2).
Further he hoped that authorities would reexamine building permits for individuals and developers to limit construction in  areas that are prone to floods and landslides.
“The exploitation of protected forests for city development will worse disasters in the future,” said Kondobua.
Earlier, the Jayapura Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) head, Bernard J Lamia, said land exploitation in Kota Jayapura has caused the floods and landslides in several areas in Entrop, Yotefa Market and Padang Bulan.
 “Not only those areas, Perumnas 3 was also already becoming a new flooding point as a result of this exploitation,” he told in Tuesday (11/2).
The conversion of protected forest into housing and human settlements is already on the edge. It was not only causing a decrease of rainwater absorption but also the narrowing of rivers
“Not to mention  the garbage that obstructs water flows from gutters in neighborhoods  because they have blocked by houses’ foundations,” he said. (Jubi/Sindung/rom)

Lorentz National Park (

Jayapura , 2/12( Jubi ) – Reports that parts of the Lorentz National Park have been damaged because of new road construction needs to be investigated,  World Wildlife Found ( WWF ) Papua said.
“Since the beginning there has been a commitment that the construction of the road will not pass the core zone,” said WWF Papua Director Benja Mambay.
“In addition, the project must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Forestry and must satisfy the requirement for an environmental impact assessment ( EIA )  and a development of environmental impact analysis, ” Mambay told reporters in Jayapura , Papua , on Wednesday ( 12/2 ) .
Benja said the Minister of Forestry has issued a permit but an environmental impact analysis was still being conducted. He added in January, a team from the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare ( Menkokesra) went to Papua and discussed the matter while acting Deputy for Cultural Affairs of Menkokesra , Dorhardo Pakpahan met with the Government of Papua province, Regencies and other Working Units ( SKPD) in Papua .
Lorentz National Park already has a zoning map and any construction has to be adapted to the existing zoning, otherwise the Unesco will raise the issue at its annual conference.
At the meeting Pakpahan said Unesco’s Coordinating Committee for World Heritage was scheduled to visit Indonesia this month and inspect the Lorentz National Park in Timika.
“The arrival of the team is to see the extent of support by the Indonesian government, the provincial and local governments for heritage management in the Lorentz park . So, information on the impact of the Habema – Kenyam road project, which allegedly damaged some forest areas, will likely be discussed and we need an accurate data to report when the team from Unesco comes to Papua later, ” said Dorhardo Pakpahan . ( Jubi / Alex )

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