Monday, March 12, 2018

AWPA update for February -12 March 2018




Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088


Summary of events in West Papua for February  -12 March 2018
The last update ended 17 February. This report takes in the rest of February to the 12 March.


Melanesian Spearhead Group 
The last update reported how the Leaders of the MSG countries referred the West Papuan application for full membership to its secretariat for processing. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, and chair of the MSG said the leaders of Melanesia have approved new criteria guidelines for observers, associate members and full members to the sub-regional grouping. More stories on MSG below.

According to Sade Bimantara, a spokesman for the  Indonesian embassy in Australia, Jakarta has been assisting the MSG  financially and in procuring vehicles and other things for their secretariat. Sade Bimantara  also said the ULMWP's bid is at a dead end."I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG." 

Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu responded to Sade Bimantara's  claim that West Papua's 'game is up'.  In an email exchange with the Daily Post, Mr Regenvanu wrote, "Well, that's for the MSG Leaders to decide once the application is presented to them. "Technically, the ULMWP can meet the new criteria just agreed upon." The issue, he wrote, would not be decided by the technicalities outlined by Indonesia's spokesman. "The question is only whether a political compromise can be achieved by the MSG Leaders before the next Summit at which the application for membership will be considered." "Vanuatu is working on achieving this political compromise," he concluded (RNZI 19 Feb.)


Speaking in the Solomons parliament, Deputy PM Manasseh Sogavare said Fiji should apologise for bringing Indonesia into the MSG. He said Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama breached MSG procedure by forcing the other four full members to accept Indonesia as part of the sub-regional grouping, whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS Kanaks movement of New Caledonia. Indonesia was admitted to the MSG with observer status in 2011 after Mr Bainimarama assumed the MSG's rotational chairmanship. "There was no consensus in the admission of Indonesia by member countries," claimed Mr Sogavare who wants Indonesian control of West Papua reviewed by the United Nations.


Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola  denied Mr Sogavare's claim that the MSG didn't reach consensus on the issue. "I think he is either suffering from memory loss or trying to play politics with his own constituents," said Ratu Inoke. "He has forgotten that it was during his term as chair of the MSG when Indonesia was admitted to the MSG as an associate member. All members of the MSG had agreed."




Indonesia helps finance Melanesian Spearhead Group secretariat
RNZI 19 February 2018 
Indonesia's government has been helping fund the Melanesian Spearhead Group's secretariat. The secretariat, based in Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, has experienced funding limitations in recent years. The five full members - Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement - are meant to pay annual contributions. However, some members have struggled to pay their dues on time in the past few years. According to a spokesman for Indonesia's embassy in Australia, Sade Bimantara, Jakarta has been helping the MSG out. "And we have been giving our annual contribution. On top of that we have also helped the secretariat in procuring vehicles and other things for their secretariat. Yeah, so we have been assisting them financially as well." Sade Bimantara, a representative of Indonesia's government, which has associate member status in the MSG.



ULMWP Can Pass Muster: Foreign Minister
Dan McGarry 21 Feb. 2018 Vanuatu Daily Post
                        


PM Charlot Salwai speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new ULMWP headquarters in Port Vila. The land grant was facilitated by then-Lands Minister, and now Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu.

Dan McGarry

In a brief message yesterday, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu responded to an Indonesian spokesman's claims by Indonesia's First Secretary for Political Affairs in Australia that West Papua's 'game is up'.  Radio New Zealand reported earlier this week that Mr Sade Bimantara said that the "United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead group has reached a dead end."

In the interview with RNZI's Johnny Blades, Mr Bimantara opined "I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG. They are not a state, and as opposed to Kanaks, they are not on the C24 (UN) Decolonisation Committee, they are not on the list, West Papua. And also the separatist group does not obtain full support from all the West Papuans. And West Papua and Papua is also politically free, so there's no reason for the MSG to accept them as full members." This was disputed yesterday by Vanuatu's Foreign Minister. In an email exchange with the Daily Post, Mr Regenvanu wrote, "Well, that's for the MSG Leaders to decide once the application is presented to them. "Technically, the ULMWP can meet the new criteria just agreed upon." The issue, he wrote, would not be decided by the technicalities outlined by Indonesia's spokesman. "The question is only whether a political compromise can be achieved by the MSG Leaders before the next Summit at which the application for membership will be considered." "Vanuatu is working on achieving this political compromise," he concluded.

Mr Regenvanu has been an outspoken supporter of West Papuan Independence movement. One of his last acts as Lands Minister before he took up the Foreign Affairs portfolio was to facilitate a grant of land to provide the United Liberation Movement for West Papua a permanent headquarters in Port Vila. A ULMWP statement following the announcement of Mr Regenvanu's appointment to the portfolio said that it "is certainly a very effective state policy closely linked to the direction of the effective support of... Vanuatu for the West Papuan independence struggle."



Melanesian Spearhead Group spat over Indonesia spills over
Johnny Blades, RNZ Pacific Journalist  RNZI 7 March 2018 

Fiji has hit back at the deputy prime minister of Solomon Islands over criticism about the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Speaking in the Solomons parliament yesterday, Manasseh Sogavare said Fiji should apologise for bringing Indonesia into the MSG. He said Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama breached MSG procedure by forcing the other four full members to accept Indonesia as part of the sub-regional grouping, whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS Kanaks movement of New Caledonia.

Indonesia was admitted to the MSG with observer status in 2011 after Mr Bainimarama assumed the MSG's rotational chairmanship. "There was no consensus in the admission of Indonesia by member countries," claimed Mr Sogavare who wants Indonesian control of West Papua reviewed by the United Nations. In 2015 Indonesia had its status in the group elevated. This remains a complicating factor as the MSG wrestles with the sensitive issue of a West Papuan membership bid.
However, in response, Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, who often represents Fiji at MSG summits, denied Mr Sogavare's claim that the MSG didn't reach consensus on the issue.
"I think he is either suffering from memory loss or trying to play politics with his own constituents," said Ratu Inoke. "He has forgotten that it was during his term as chair of the MSG when Indonesia was admitted to the MSG as an associate member. All members of the MSG had agreed."

Mr Sogavare had chaired the 2015 meeting in Honiara where, according to Ratu Inoke, MSG leaders reached consensus about Indonesia's status in the group.
"I cannot really understand why he is making this statement, trying to put the blame on our prime minister, because all the (MSG) members agreed to admit Indonesia as an associate member," said the Fiji minister. Following the 2015 summit, Mr Sogavare spoke of how bringing Indonesia into the fold had been polarising for MSG leaders. The United Liberation Movement for West Papua was itself granted observer status in the MSG in 2015, but its application for full membership continues to divide the five full members. At their latest summit in Port Moresby last month, MSG leaders approved new clarifications on guidelines around membership in the group.
The Liberation Movement's application has been referred to the MSG secretariat for processing, but Fiji and Papua New Guinea have signalled they remain opposed to the pro-independence West Papuans being given full membership. Of the other full members of the group, Vanuatu and the FLNKS appear firmly in support of the Papuan bid.

Solomon Islands had until recently also been strongly in support of giving West Papuans full membership in the MSG. But when Mr Sogavare was ousted as prime minister late last year, and replaced by Rick Hou, that support appeared to dim. The position of PNG and Fiji on the West Papua membership issue had been "really clear", according to Ratu Inoke. "And the new prime minister of Solomon Islands, in the last meeting in Port Moresby, about three weeks ago, he took a similar position," he said. Mr Sogavare however remains a strong influence in government, and his stand on the Papua issue appears unlikely to diminish. "Close association of Fiji with Indonesia is sabotaging the work of MSG and their membership in MSG is not political but economic interest," said Mr Sogavare. Echoing recent statements by Vanuatu's government, Mr Sogavare said the MSG's founding aim of working to decolonise all Melanesian peoples was at risk.




Sikua says MSG must change its name
Solomon Star 06 March 2018
Leader of the Parliamentary Independent Group, Dr. Derek Sikua asks Prime Minister (PM) Rick Houenipwela to move a motion in the next Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting to change the name of MSG, since the organisation no longer serves its purpose. Sikua stressed this on the floor of parliament after learning from the revelation by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Manasseh Sogavare that some member countries are pursing economic interests, at the expense of Melanesia. Sogavare revealed that Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are not doing any good for the plight of our Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua.

Citing, the two countries only strengthen their ties with Indonesia to serve their interests that is not founded in the very purpose and reasons, in the formation of MSG. Dr. Sikua, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Guadalcanal said the word Spearhead should be change to something else because MSG no longer serves its purpose as intended by its founding fathers. He joked that the head of the spear is blunt so its better to change the name to something like Melanesian Economic Forum, so that it reflects where we are now. “MSG has drifted out from its very purpose so the name has to be changed to remove the word spearhead to something that reflects the current position of MSG, which no longer stands for the freedom and rights of Melanesia from colonial rule and oppression.”

But PM Houenipwela said, the application of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to be admitted full membership in MSG has been referred to the Director General of MSG. He said the application has been agreed on by leaders to follow the procedures and criteria, so it is an administrative matter and not an issue for leaders to meet over and decide on. PM further added that the apology made to member countries of MSG will not change government policy on West Papua. He responded to a question asked by MP for Rendova-Tetepare Danny Phillip. Stating, his term will end this year, which is too short, so he hopes that he will come back next year to work on a new policy for West Papua.  By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI







West Papua Liberation Army in fresh campaign against Indonesia
RNZI 21 Feb. 2018
The West Papua National Liberation Army's central command in the Papuan Highlands has made a fresh declaration of war against Indonesian military.



West Papua Liberation Army at the issuance of a declaration of war against Indonesian security forces. Photo: Supplied

The Liberation Army is the armed wing of the Free West Papua Movement. Since forming in the early 1970s after Indonesia took control of West Papua, the army has been waging a sporadic guerilla campaign for independence with limited weaponry. However, it's been linked to a spate of skirmishes with Indonesian security forces in the Highlands region of Papua province in the past few months.
It claimed responsibility for the killing of an Indonesian soldier in remote Puncak Jaya regency last week. The Army's recently appointed Chief of Field operations, Major General Telenggen Lekkagak, has issued a new declaration about driving Indonesian forces out of Papua.


The Liberation Army also wants to close the operations of foreign companies that are exploiting Papua's resources. Major General Telenggen specifically mentioned the oil and gas multi-national BP with its gas project in Bintuni Bay, and the US mining giant Freeport which runs the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in Mimika. The Freeport mine, which is one of Indonesia's largest single sources of revenue, has long been the subject of West Papuan grievances over environmental and social impacts. As well, Papuans have complained about not being consulted over the control of Freeport, and about not gaining any benefit from its lucrative operations.


Attacks by the Liberation Army on Indonesian security forces have often occurred in the area around Freeport, and have at times extended to attacks on the miner's infrastructure and personnel. In the declaration, Major General Telenggen says that Papua's resources must be protected for the sake of West Papuan independence. "As long as Indonesia occupies our homeland, the war's resistance continues until Papuan independence becomes real," read an English version of the Army's declaration. He said that as of last month, the Liberation Army had ordered a general mobilisation of all its soldiers in Papua to carry out operations against what it calls "the invaders". Although its membership has, in the past, been divided into various groups over West Papua's rugged interior, a spokesman for the Army says all of its wings are now united.



Indonesia seizes illegally logged wood from Papua
 March 9 
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities foiled the shipment of 21 containers of prized ironwood from Papua, highlighting what environmentalists say is a rampant illegal trade in the country’s easternmost region. The Forestry and Environment Ministry’s law enforcement agency said the wood from the Kaimana tropical forest was processed and ready for shipment to Surabaya, home to a major port and a center of Indonesia’s wood furniture manufacturing and export industry on the island of Java. The seizure was made Tuesday and announced Thursday. Greenpeace Indonesia said the seizure is small compared with long-standing smuggling from Papua where no “big actors” have been prosecuted. Indonesia was in 2016 admitted to an EU licensing system that makes it easier for Indonesian wood producers to export to the bloc.





Opinion pieces/reports/media releases etc.

They’re killing the Koroway with mercury and precious metals.

Recognising land and tenure rights ist he best way to protect Papua’s forest


GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbeater – 60 Years of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: black marks on the record card


An Indonesian District Isolated From Development


West Papua's fight for independence


Activists march against violence toward women in Papua




AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2017/18  THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S HUMAN RIGHTS
country report Indonesia



Previous AWPA update


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