1) Fiji, PNG Say They Will Support Indonesia’s Full Membership in MSG
By : Donny Andhika Mononimbar | on 8:46 PM April 05, 2016
Indonesian soldiers in Skouw-Wutung, Papua, on Indonesia's border with Papua New Guinea. During an official visit to Fiji and PNG last week, Chief Security Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the two countries have agreed to endorse Indonesia as a permanent member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)
Jakarta. Indonesia should have a larger presence in the South Pacific, as parts of the archipelago share the same cultural values with Melanesia, a top minister said.
During an official visit to Fiji and Papua New Guinea last week, Chief Security Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the two countries have agreed to endorse Indonesia as a permanent member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
"Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said he would support a motion to boost Indonesia's status from an associate member to a full member of the MSG," Luhut claims. "Being a full member will strengthen Indonesia's position in the MSG."
PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato also showed his support for Indonesia to become a full member of the MSG. His country will host the MSG summit this year.
Luhut said the provinces of Papua and West Papua are an inseparable part of Indonesia, and no country should meddle with Indonesia's sovereignty.
"Fiji and PNG are welcome to visit Papua and West Papua to see what we've done there. But I don't want any fact-finding mission or attempts to meddle in domestic issues. I will not let any country intervene in our business," Luhut said.
Indonesia's relations with MSG countries, especially Vanuatu, has been rocky to say the least. Over the past few years Vanuatu, and sometimes PNG and the Solomon Islands, have been criticizing Indonesia's handling of Papua and West Papua.
"We need to maintain good relations with [MSG countries] because those nations have influence. If they get the wrong information about Indonesia, they will take it up with the United Nations," Luhut said, adding that he brought along the deputy governor of Papua, the governor of Maluku, the governor of North Maluku and representatives of East Nusa Tenggara on his trip to show that Indonesia has many citizens of Melanesian descent.
Luhut said the Indonesian government was doing its best to improve the welfare of the citizens of Papua and West Papua.
"We are doing the best we can to solve all the problems in those two provinces. We are trying to fix the entire management system there," Luhut said.
Posted 5 April 2016 12:58 GMT
The ‘Free West Papua Campaign’ is asking Internet users to post photos supporting the hashtag #LetWestPapuaVote.
West Papua is currently a province of Indonesia, but there is a movement inside and outside the country calling for the establishment of an independent state.The social media campaign promoting the hashtag #LetWestPapuaVote aims to garner the support of the international community in time for the gathering of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament on May 3.
The campaign explains:
This meeting is very important, as it will mark the official call for an internationally supervised vote in West Papua by the end of the decade.
A brief history of struggle of West Papua
West Papua was colonized by the Netherlands in 1898. After 62 years, the Dutch government began to prepare West Papua for independence. In 1961, the people of West Papua declared independence and raised their new flag – “The Morning Star“.
The Indonesian military subsequently invaded West Papua. In 1969, a plebiscite was held where 1,000 delegates selected by the Indonesian military unanimously decided to remain part of Indonesia. It was called the ‘Act of Free Choice’ although Papuan nationalists derided it as the ‘Act of No Choice’.
Indonesia is accused of committing systematic abuses against West Papuans. There are reports about heavy militarization in the region resulting in severe human rights violations. Meanwhile, the independence movement is treatedas a terrorist group. Media coverage about West Papua is strictly monitored so there’s little information about the real situation of the people in the territory. West Papua is one of the resource-rich provinces of Indonesia, although it has a high poverty rate.
As Indonesian ‘occupation’ of West Papua continues, the movement supporting the independence struggle has broadened as well. Some lawyersand parliamentarians from across the world have endorsed the campaign urging Indonesia to organize another plebiscite regarding West Papua’s right to self-determination.
The current initiative spearheaded by ‘Free West Papua Campaign Australia’ encourages netizens to express support for the struggle of West Papua by posting photos on social media in order to create stronger pressure on the Indonesian government. Below are some photos of individuals who have already joined the campaign:
5) New Caledonia referendum inevitable, says Yanno
2:07 pm on 5 April 2016
New Caledonia's former Congress president says the independence referendum due in 2018 is inevitable
Gael Yanno told public television that a vote should be held with a clear question to determine whether people want to stay with France.
Mr Yanno, who is a member of the small anti-independence UCF Party, said once the vote has been held, negotiations will follow on a clear basis.
Alluding to rivals in his camp, he said he was against talking now about a new accord to be drawn up before the 2018 vote.
The 1998 Noumea Accord, which has been the decolonisation roadmap transferring powers from France to New Caledonia, will run out with a referendum in 2018.
As the guarantor of the Noumea Accord, Paris has said the plebiscite will take place although it is up to the territory's accord signatories to draw up the timetable and referendum question.
Voting will be restricted to long-term residents in line with an amendment to the French constitution.
6) States-in-Waiting: Introducing Your Future Pacific Neighbours
The world’s newest states are likely to emerge from the Pacific Islands. Why is no one paying attention?
By Sally Andrews
April 05, 2016
Within a few years, the Pacific Islands region will likely become home to the newest states in the world. Each of these nations is emerging from a complex history of colonization and civil unrest, and the creation of new states in the region has significant political, social, and economic ramifications for the Asia-Pacific as a whole.
First up is the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, which must hold an independence referendum before the end of 2018. Following violent clashes in the 1980s between the indigenous Kanaks and the pro-French European settlers, the UN listed New Caledonia as a non-self-governing territory in 1986, effectively placing the territory on its “decolonization list.” After further killings, hostage crises, and assassinations in the 1990s, the French government signed the Noumea Accord in 1998, mandating that a vote on independence was to take place before 2019.
The outcome of the upcoming referendum is difficult to predict, and is causing heated debate in a nation that is already intensely polarized. Changes in 2015 to the electoral eligibility laws prescribed that only the indigenous population and persons who were already enrolled to vote in 1998 would be automatically eligible to vote in the referendum, causing protests among pro-French groups. The latest census results reveal that within a population of 260,000, 39 percent are indigenous Kanaks, whilst 27 percent are European. The remaining 34 percent comprises “mixed race” persons, migrants from other Pacific islands, and a handful of Asian minorities.
As the referendum approaches, pro-independence activists have some hard work ahead of them in order to broaden their appeal beyond the Kanak bloc and gain the majority vote necessary for independence. Little more can be said at this stage while the New Caledonia Congress continues to debate the question of electoral eligibility, but it seems likely that the results will be close.
The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, currently a province of Papua New Guinea, will follow suit with a referendum in 2019. The decision to stage a referendum came out of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, following a long and bloody civil war from 1988-1998. The conflict was fought between Bougainvillean revolutionary forces and the Papua New Guinean military — assisted by the infamous private mercenary company Sandline International – and the ten years of fighting left as many as 20,000 dead.
Longstanding feelings of alienation toward Papua New Guinea among Bougainville’s estimated population of 250,000 suggests that a strong vote in favor of independence is the most likely outcome of the 2019 vote, meaning that Bougainville could become the world’s next new country.
In appreciating the necessity to establish diplomatic relations with what may well become the newest fragile state on Australia’s doorstep, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Canberra would be setting up a diplomatic post on Bougainville in May 2015. The government of Papua New Guinea responded by banning Australians from travelling there, with PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato denouncing the plans as “outrageous.”
Despite the overwhelming support for independence among Bougainvilleans, Papua New Guinea’s frosty attitude toward the question of independence intimates that secession is not entirely guaranteed. Part of the peace agreement was that the PNG Parliament would have “final decision making authority” over the referendum results, meaning that Bougainville’s independence will theoretically require parliamentary consent. It is unclear how this will play out in 2019, and it is also unclear how the UN, regional leaders, and Bougainvilleans themselves would respond if Papua New Guinea refused to ratify a vote for independence.
The Pacific also holds a number of more long-term candidates for statehood. One of the key areas to watch over the next decade is French Polynesia, an island collectivity in the South Pacific that France recently agreed to re-classify as a non-self-governing territory in 2013. As such, the French government was called upon by the UN General Assembly to take rapid steps toward effecting “a fair and effective self-determination process” in French Polynesia, a major win for the indigenous Maohi nationalists.
Similarly to New Caledonia, the French Polynesian parliament is split between the pro- and anti-independence political parties, and these sentiments broadly divide the population into the indigenous and European camps. The political situation is further complicated by the intertwining of the independence movement with the campaign for recognition and compensation from the French government for the 196 nuclear tests carried out in French Polynesia between 1960-1996, with anger and momentum in the latter movement fueling the independence campaign.
While a referendum is some way off in French Polynesia, the events in New Caledonia over the next few years are likely to provide significant impetus for the decolonization process. Aside from New Caledonia and French Polynesia, France has another overseas territory in the form of the islands of Wallis and Futuna. Whilst the islands’ indigenous populations have traditionally been strongly pro-French, Futuna chiefs recently hinted at a potential push for independence in the midst of concerns over French mineral exploitation.
The Pacific Islands of the future seem set for some radical changes. Some of the biggest questions will be those surrounding governance capacity, fiscal independence, and resource management. New Caledonia, home to 25 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, can be expected to undertake a dramatic renegotiation of its mining arrangements upon independence, while the fate of the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville — estimated at a value of $37 billion and an infamous flashpoint for bloody clashes and indigenous exploitation during the 1990s — remains at an impasse.
Sorely neglected within the field of IR analysis, the Pacific Islands region may yet emerge as as one of the geopolitical hotspots of the 21st century. With a number of other independence movements growing across the Pacific — including the Chilean territory of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji’s Rotuma islands, Banaba Island in Kiribati, New Zealand’s Cook Islands, Australia’s Norfolk Island, and the Indonesian territories of West Papua, Aceh, Maluku, and Kalimantan, to name a just a few — it’s high time that we paid some attention to our Pacific neighbors.
Sally Andrews is a New Colombo Plan Scholar and the 2015-2016 New Colombo Plan Indonesia Fellow. She is a Director of the West Papuan Development Company and the 2016 Indo-Pacific Fellow for Young Australians in International Affairs.
This article was first published on the Young Australians in International Affairs blog. This article can be republished with attribution under a Creative Commons Licence.