1) Bishops’ West Papua visit hailed by Catholic women
9:30 pm today
A Catholic Womens group in West Papua has called for regional support for their people’s plight, after a visit to the Indonesian territory by Catholic Bishops from other parts of Melanesia.
Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades
23 Bishops from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji visited West Papua last week.
Among them were the Archbishop of Port Moresby, John Ribat, and the Archbishop of Honiara, Adrian Smith.
As they travelled to Jayapura from PNG for what has been described by the Catholic Womens group as a type of fact-finding mission, the bishops were closely accompanied by Indonesian military.
Although restricted in who they could talk with, the bishops had a meeting with the Bishop of Jayapura and met with some students.
However, the impact of their visit on a group of Papuan Catholic women has been expressed with deep gratitude.
Unable to meet the visiting bishops themselves, the Catholic women delivered a statement to them, describing their visit as important because it was rare for people to visit Papua.
Thanking the bishops for their visit, the women pressed upon them that the conditions of life for the indigenous Papuan Catholics were in a poor state.
"Our people experience violence and death because of the brutal actions of the Indonesian military and police," they said.
"Every day more and more migrants arrive. We are becoming a minority in our land and even in our own church while the Indonesian people master all aspects of life."
The bishops have been urged to continue helping raise awareness about the "many cases of violence and injustices" in Papua which have gone unresolved.
"The State does not address these. In fact, they are often the perpetrators or protect the perpetrators, so we feel we have nowhere to turn," read the statement.
"Sadly, the Catholic Church in West Papua is largely silent about this and does not give voice to our cry for justice."
The Catholic Womens group said it wanted the international community to know that West Papuans want to be free to determine their own future.
The women told the bishops that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua represents them and has their full support.
Last year, the Liberation Movement was granted observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
The women have asked the bishops to encourage Pacific Islands countries to speak up in support of justice and peace in West Papua, and push for a full fact-finding mission to the Indonesian territory.
A report by the Bishops delegation which visited Papua is expected to be presented by the end of the month.
3) Pacific Archbishops make surprise ‘fact-finding’ visit to West Papua
about 11 hours ago
A delegation from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands has made a trip to West Papua, visiting the Catholic faithful in Jayapura.
The Archbishop of Port Moresby, John Ribat, and the Archbishop of Honiara, Adrian Smith were among those who took time to talk to members of the local community in the Indonesian province, the site of conflict between indigenous Melanesians and the Indonesian military and police forces for decades.
Frederika Korain, a West Papua-based lawyer and activist, said the visit was unexpected.
"It was a very big surprise for us, because for decades there was no big delegations like that coming to this country. So for us it is really a big surprise.
"We just got information about their visit [on] the first day that they arrived, late in the afternoon when they were already in the city. We just got the news from the students that they met.
"Once we heard about it, we tried to get their agenda in Jayapura, because we would really have liked to have a chat with them as well," she said.
However Ms Korain said the Indonesian military presence was noticeable, and she felt the meeting was quite closed off to locals.
"They came [from the border with Papua New Guinea] by the military buses, two buses, accompanied by huge military officials as well, some of them in uniform and some of them without.
"I don't think [they got an accurate picture of life in Jayapura]... There was no time for them to freely chat with ordinary people, so we used the moment during the meeting, even after the mass, we tried to approach them then we explained to them what was going on in West Papua, especially around the issue of human rights violations."
While it wasn't said explicitly, Ms Korain said she thought the visit was an opportunity for Catholic leaders to see the situation in West Papua for themselves.
"We got that a clear statement, especially from the president of the Bishops Conference in the meeting they had with the Catholic Bishops of Jayapura, they said that they would like to come and listen and see what is going on here.
"It is a kind of fact-finding," she said.
4) MELANESIAN DISARRAY
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 8:00 am
By Royson Willie and Godwin Ligo |
The Government of Vanuatu has expressed its disappointment about the appointment of a new Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), saying the proper process was not followed.
Yesterday the Office of the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, who is the current MSG Chairman, announced the appointment of Fijian diplomat, Amena Yauvoli, as the new DG after he signed his contract also yesterday in Honiara.
While Mr Yauvoli signed his employment contract yesterday, and he is expected to arrive in Vanuatu today, his appointment was announced by the Foreign Minister of Fiji last week around Friday in Fiji.
The stand of the government of Prime Minister Charlot Salwai is that MSG Constitution may have been breached.
In a letter reportedly sent yesterday by Mr Salwai to the MSG Chair, PM Sogavare, the Vanuatu Government said that Article 15 of the MSG Constitution was clear that the Director General shall be appointed by the Leaders’ Summit.
The same letter informed the MSG Chair of Vanuatu’s nomination being Ambassador to Brussels in Europe, Roy Mickey Joy, that was endorsed by the Vanuatu Council of Ministers on Thursday last week.
“While I am aware that article 15 of the MSG Constitution is clear that the Director General shall be appointed by the Leaders’ Summit, I wish to submit this as my Government’s nomination.
“All our Governments value and respect that this legitimate process has always been based on a fair, open and transparent competitive process which will ultimately lead to the leaders’ consensus on the most eligible Melanesian Citizen for this position.
“My Government hopes that the MSG Chair and the Secretariat shall enlist all names for consideration by the leaders at its next Summit meeting as required by our organization’s Constitution.
Any deviation from the Constitution and established processes will run the risk of bringing disrepute to our image.
“I thank you and hope that the true spirit of dialogue and Melanesian Spirit will prevail among us as we uphold the process for this highly important matter to our very own organization,” the letter by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai stated.
Earlier on March 24 the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands as MSG Chair wrote to Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, announcing his intention to appoint a new Director General, citing discussions held during Mr Sogavare’s visit to Vanuatu in February this year.
The letter did not mention any candidates being nominated but was a formal consultation for the appointment of a Director General of the MSG, Daily Post has been told.
It is understood the MSG Secretariat had advised against the appointment being made but this advise was ignored.
Daily Post has been informed the process of the appointment of a new DG under the MSG is as follows:
(i) The position of the DG is advertised upon the expiration of the incumbent’s contract;
(ii) A panel comprisiing of the current Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) Chair, past SOM Chair and next SOM Chair be established to over-see the recruitment including shortlish and interview applicants;
(iii) The Panel to shortlist and interview applicants within three months after advertising the DG position;
(iv) The Panel recommends to SOM the best candidate for the DG position for subsequent consideration by Foreign Ministers Meeting and approval by Leaders;
(v) A Special Leaders’ Summit be convened for Leaders to formally appoint the DG allowing for smooth transition; and
(vi) The process for the recruitment of the new DG may take up to six months during which time the Deputy DG is Acting DG.
The former DG of the MSG, Mr Peter Forau, resigned about four months ago.
Meanwhile, MSG Leaders are expected to meet next month in Port Vila.
Earlier this month an Indonesian envoy visited Fiji and Papua New Guinea and later announced that it has won the backing of both countries for its bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Just last year during the MSG meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Indonesia’s status as an observer was elevated to Associate member of the MSG, while the West Papuan United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s bid to be member in the sub-regional body was placed at being just an observer.
While confusion reigns in the MSG, it remains to be seen how Melanesian solidarity, if such still exists, will stand against the challenges it faces.