2) Melanesia Stands at a Crossroads, Which Way?
3) ULMWP brings petition from 150,000 West Papuans for Prime Minister
1) As Melanesian, Fiji and PNG at Least is Unapologetic if Shameless
Oktovianus Mote and Ham Lini – pacificpolicy.org
By Dan McGarry
Jayapura, Jubi – No matter how we slice and dice the issue of West Papuan independence, it always comes down to this: Do the indigenous peoples of a distinct and discrete land mass have the democratic right to self-determination or not?
The answer, according to international law and standards, is an unequivocal yes.
Even a cursory examination of history reveals that Indonesia has systematically ignored and subverted the desires of the people who share the island of Papua with their cultural and ethnic brethren and sistren in Papua New Guinea. They have oppressed these people using military force, and their policies in the region have from the beginning been designed to silence the voice of the indigenous people there.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s protestations notwithstanding, there is no free press in the Papuan provinces. Police and military continue to claim in the face of incontrovertible evidence that there is no unrest. And still they claim that even advocating for independence is a crime. Attending a peaceful demonstration is considered grounds for arrest and incarceration. Political activity can get you tortured or killed. Virtually all of the independence leaders living in exile have faced systematic persecution extending across borders. After he escaped prison and fled for his life, Benny Wenda faced years of forced immobility because of a flagrantly erroneous Interpol ‘red notice’, which falsely accused Mr Wenda of arson and murder.
Just last month, Mr Wenda was denied entry into the United States following an interview with US Homeland Security personnel. No reason was provided at the time. Presumably, the terrorist watch-list, or a similar international mechanism, is being used to curtail his visibility on the world stage.
It needs to be said that Jokowi, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before him, would do more if they could. But the plain truth is that civilian rule of law does not extend to the Papuan provinces. These frontier areas are the under the hegemony of the Indonesian military. The wealth they derive from this island is such that they are content to conduct what has been characterised as a ‘slow-motion genocide’ in order to perpetuate their own prosperity.
It’s despicable, frankly. But nobody seems to have either the power or the political will to end this tyranny. One can argue realpolitik, and claim that Indonesia is moving in the right direction, but it’s clear that politicians in Jakarta allow these depredations to continue on Melanesian peoples even while they take great strides to protect their ethnically Asian populations.
In editorial pages across the region, commentators are writhing and contorting themselves to try to find a dignified, elevated expression of the pending decision: Should the Melanesian Spearhead Group recommend full membership for the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua? Will they do it?
The answer to each question is agonisingly simple: Yes, they should; and no, they will not.
Indonesia has already won this round. They won on the day that Voreqe Bainimarama reiterated that Indonesia’s territorial integrity was inviolate. They won doubly when he recommended them for associate membership in the MSG, a move that effectively kills the prospect of any dialogue concerning West Papuan independence in this forum.
The MSG operates on consensus. If there is no agreement, there is no action. Given the opposing stances that Vanuatu and Fiji have taken concerning the ULMWP, no compromise—let alone consensus—seems possible. And given the recent rise to power of Sato Kilman, widely considered to be Indonesia’s cats-paw in Vanuatu, membership for Indonesia is not out of the question.
Regional commentators and political figures wax poetic about the need for dialogue and inclusion. They ignore the rather inconvenient fact that West Papua’s MSG bid is a result of the fact that dialogue within Indonesia is not only impossible, it’s frequently fatal to those who attempt it.
It’s frankly infuriating to see the namby-pamby linguistic contortions that some of those involved have engaged in. Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare’s championship-level equivocation, advocating for observer status for the ULMWP and membership for Indonesia, simply closes the coffin and hands the nails to Indonesia. PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill’s ability to swallow his outrage over human rights abuses seems to increase right alongside his ability to attract Indonesian business interests.
But worst of all is Vanuatu’s deputy prime minister Moana Carcasses, who only last year made history with his presentation of West Papua’s plight to the United Nations. Now, he is reportedly professing that the issue is a difficult one, and that understanding and patience need to prevail.
Fiji, at least, is unapologetic, if shameless, in its stance.
The MSG cannot move out of this morass if it won’t speak clearly about the situation. There is a prima facie case for West Papuan membership in the MSG. If the fact that the chair is currently held by the New Caledonian independence movement weren’t evidence enough, then the words of support from MSG founding member Sir Michael Somare should suffice.
But ULMWP membership is unacceptable to Indonesia. And it has played its hand with care. Ensuring that even Australia did not remain on the sidelines, it prodded and pulled at everyone involved, and got the result that it wanted.
If the MSG is to retain even an iota of credibility, the only line that it can honestly take now is to admit that it cannot usefully function as a forum for discussions concerning Melanesian decolonialisation, because it lacks the strength to resist the overwhelming power of its neighbours.
It’s a fact: Melanesia is weak. There’s no shame in saying so. Indonesia is powerful—powerful enough even to give Australia pause. Indonesia has the will and the political and material resources necessary to ensure that West Papuan independence remains merely a dream for years yet to come. Likewise, armed resistance to an utterly ruthless military cannot succeed. The days of the OPM are past—if they ever existed.
The sooner we come to terms with these truths, the sooner ULMWP can begin developing effective tactics to counteract them. Those of us in Melanesia owe them at least that much. (*)
Dan McGarry is chief technologist at the Pacific Insititute of Public Policy. He has worked in the Pacific for over a decade now, assisting in numerous capacities in the development of ICTs in Vanuatu and the Pacific. He has extensive experience in technology policy formulation and implementation as well as in traditional and new media. He still writes software.
This article was published on http://pacificpolicy.org
2) Melanesia Stands at a Crossroads, Which Way?
By Yamin Kagoya (Yikwanak)
Jayapura, Jubi – Melanesia Stands at a Crossroads, Which Way…? Indonesian, white man or Melanesian? The Indonesian way, the white man’s way or the Melanesian way?
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit in Honiara will soon consider an application that proposes West Papua be offered full membership. The application being put forward by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) seeks to include the troubled province as a prominent contributor to dialogue regarding Melanesian affairs. Regardless of whether or not this proposal is accepted by the member countries of the MSG, the obvious international pressures that impel this debate must also prompt us to ask ourselves what it is to be Melanesian. Does the primacy of maintaining good relations with a powerful country like Indonesia supersede Melanesian solidarity, or are we able to transcend these pressures to define a common Melanesian perspective?
But what would a common Melanesian perspective look like? This question has been visited many times before. The late Papua New Guinea politician, lawyer, academic and philosopher, Bernard Narakobi coined the succinct term “the Melanesian Way”, upon which the summit in Honiara has appropriated key principles as central to this year’s themes for discussion.
“Let us build a stronger Melanesia in the Pacific where peace, progress and prosperity is ensured and sustained for all”
According to Narakobi, the Melanesian way is “the total cosmic vision of life”. It is not about what other people say about what we are, or what we are not, nor what we ought to be or not be through their ethnographic, anthropological and scientific endeavour. He refused to define what the Melanesian way is, because according to Narakobi, “it is not only futile, but trite to attempt a definition of it”. But even if Narakobi refused to specifically define the Melanesian Way, some key ideas emerge regardless. It could be said to be about respecting and valuing the Melanesian people with their diverse unique cultures, philosophies, epistemologies and traditions. What it is not about is the dreaming and seeing ourselves through the shadow of the European and Asian interpretations. Our tragedy has been that we have allowed ourselves to be defined by someone else’s perspective, and not simply by being who we are. We are still suffering from that legacy.
A stronger Melanesia must be built by all Melanesian people. The philosophies, epistemologies and wisdom that guided our people for millennia need to be reasserted as the foundation for redefining who we are as a people; a critical first step if we are to going to establish some form of autonomy over our own future. The Melanesian peoples of the Pacific must decide whether we can unite as a people to support our brothers and sisters in West Papua, or simply accept the trinkets offered by the Indonesians’ own imperialist overlords, the capitalist Western nations, to look the other way. The imminent decision to be made by the MSG leaders in Honiara will be a crucial one; one that will affect the Melanesian people for generations to come. Does the MSG stand for promoting Melanesian interests, or is itself corrupted by the short term promises of the West? What has become of the Melanesian Way – the notion of the holistic and cosmic worldview advocated by Narakobi? The decision to be made in Honiara will shine a light on MSG’s own integrity. Do this grouping exist to help the Melanesian people, or do they help others to subjugate the Melanesian people?
This story isn’t a new one. For instance, Western values of liberal democracy, free market, science and technology, and Christianity itself, would not have eventuated had it not been for a crucial decision made by the famous Macedonian conqueror Alexander after he defeated the great Persian army in the battle of Gaugamela in 334 BC. The great commander had to decide whether to accept an offer made by the defeated King of Persia, Darius. The king offered half his empire, his daughter, and a fortune in money and gold to the young commander if he agreed to curtail his military expansion and rage. Alexander refused. He had set his eye on conquering the world and he set about to achieve that very objective. Alexander went on to conquer the Mediterranean world. His decision to reject King Darius’ offer meant that Greece became the regional hegemonic power. Greek language would be spoken throughout the Empire, and Hellenistic culture would become dominant throughout the Mediterranean. Greek philosophers and thinkers such as Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle changed the world with their ideas – ideas that laid the foundations of modern Western civilization. Christianity itself used the vessel of Greek language and culture to penetrate the world beyond the walls of Jerusalem. In short, the conquering empire persisted in one form or another because a single man refused to cast his gaze away from a world bigger than all the gold, lands and riches offered by any man.
So now, MSG would do well to consider Alexander’s decision. Do they allow themselves to be distracted by the trinkets offered by Western governments and corporations and their lackeys. Or does it commit to the bigger prize of operating to the beat of its own drum? The decision by MSG whether to accept the Indonesians’ offer of “princesses and money” to disregard the ULMPW bid for MSG membership will impact not just Melanesia, but the world. The story of Jesus rejecting Satan’s offer of all the kingdoms of the world is an old story, but a relatable one. How remarkable would it be in this modern world that a long subjugated people stood firm against the mighty and rejected their gold in favour of their souls. That would be the retelling of an old story written anew.
Author is a graduate student at the Australian National University (ANU)
Vanuatu Daily Post
3) ULMWP brings petition from 150,000 West Papuans for Prime Minister
Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2015 12:00 am
West Papua’s ULMWP Ambassador to MSG Secretariat Amatus Douw posing with copies of the petition contained in two books
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)’s Ambassador to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat, Amatus Douw, is in Port Vila with a petition containing the signatures of 150,000 people of West Papua to present to the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Sato Kilman.
Douw says the petition is asking the Prime Minister of Vanuatu to support ULMWP to become a full member of the MSG.
The Vanuatu Prime Minister is to join other MSG member prime ministers at their Leaders’ Summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands next week during which a vote is expected to be taken on the ULMWP’s application for full membership of the MSG.
“I would like to present this petition to the new government of Prime Minister Sato Kilman, the Deputy Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Serge Vohor to ask for Vanuatu’s support at the Honiara Leaders’ Summit vote on the application from ULMWP for full membership of MSG,” ULMWP Ambassador Douw told the Daily Post Friday.
He said he had met with the DPM Moana Carcasses on Friday morning who expressed his strong support for West Papuan membership of MSG and that he promised to coordinate a meeting for him to visit the Prime Minister to present the petition containing the signatures of 150,000 people.
Douw confirmed he met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Serge Vohor, at 2pm Friday and he also confirmed his backing for the West Papuan application.
As of Friday evening Daily Posts understood the West Papuan leader was still awaiting confirmation of an appointment to meet with Prime Minister Kilman.
“In the Solomon Islands next week, the people of West Papua give their full trust to the Government of Vanuatu, for the longstanding support, for their full membership, so that West Papua can be brought back to the home of Melanesia which is MSG,” he appealed to the Government of Vanuatu.
“We cannot go away to seek support from other regions except Melanesian leaders who are the beacon of hope for West Papua,” he added.
The petition and the signatures are contained in two bound books each weighing about 16kg, and ULMWP Ambassador Amatus Douw says it is their intention that each of the leaders of the MSG members will receive a copy of the petition contained in the two books ahead of the Leaders’ Summit.
A full official commitment of continued strong support for West Papua’s full membership of MSG from the new government is still forthcoming, but sources close to the government say the Government will vote for West Papua.
Many people in Vanuatu want the Government to continue the leadership role the country has been taking on the West Papua issue including the vote for full membership for West Papua in MSG. And they are watching to see if this Government will continue this position at next week’s crucial vote.