Thursday, June 18, 2015

1) Solomons against full West Papua MSG membership

2) Melanesia begins preparatory meetings to Leaders Summit
3) Dutch journo attests to huge West Papuan support for MSG bid
4) Papuan Muslims Hold Burning Stone Ritual to Welcome Ramadan

1) Solomons against full West Papua MSG membership
The Solomon Islands Government says it will not back the United Liberation Movement for West Papua as a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
But it says it will back observer status to one united group.
In a statement issued this evening, the Government, which hosts the MSG summit next week, says it would agree that any submission for full membership by a group representing Melanesians throughout Indonesia if it is united and done in consultation with Indonesia.
It says it also wants the MSG to continue looking at ways to make Indonesia an associate member of the MSG.
The Government says it has made its decisions to enhance Melanesian solidarity, values, continuity and maintain good neighbourliness.
The New Caledonia FLNKS and Vanuatu have traditionally backed West Papua's push to join the MSG, but Port Vila's position is unclear after the toppling of the Natuman Government.
Fiji has been strongly backing the Jakarta position and the leadership in Papua New Guinea has been ambivalent on the issue.

2) Melanesia begins preparatory meetings to Leaders Summit
West Papua, Indonesia bids to dominate discussions
MSG senior officials meeting chairman, Ambassador Joseph Maa'hanva, acting foreign affairs permanent secretary in the Solomon Islands.-- Photo: Samisoni Pareti
Interests to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group by the pro-independence group in West Papua as well as Indonesia are expected to dominate next week’s biennial summit in the Solomon Islands of MSG Leaders.
The two larger MSG members, Papua New Guinea and Fiji are backing the associate membership application of Jakarta, and Director General of the MSG, Peter Forau confirmed to journalists covering the pre-MSG Leaders summit in Honiara today that his Secretariat has received Indonesia’s formal application.
He also confirmed that the West Papua application has been lodged.
The first of a series of meetings leading up to next week MSG Leaders Summit started in the Solomon Islands capital today (Thursday) where senior foreign affairs officials from Fiji, Vanuatu, the FLNKS group in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and host Solomon Islands are going through the agenda items of the summit.
By end of tomorrow (Friday), these officials hope to finalise the agenda that will then be presented before the MSG Foreign Ministers Meeting, scheduled to begin in Honiara on Monday next week. Foreign Ministers need to approve the agenda in time for their Leaders Summit that will start with an elaborate ceremony of welcome on the grounds of the Solomon Islands Museum on Wednesday.
On Thursday next week, MSG Leaders will proceed to their customary island retreat, before they re-gather in Honiara on Friday for the plenary and release of their decisions in the form of the summit communiqué.
A dramatic plan to announce Solomon Islands’ position on West Papua by the country’s Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare through an address to the nation on state radio today fizzled out when the proposed announcement was cancelled abruptly with no reasons offered.
In a front-page story today, the Solomon Star newspaper predicted that the announcement would “bring smiles to local supporters of West Papua.” The newspaper added that with PNG and Fiji offering to support Indonesia’s bid, support for West Papua by the Sogavare Government would be “crucial.”
Assuming the chairmanship of the MSG Senior Officials meeting today, acting Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Solomon Islands, Joseph Maa’hanva spoke about everything but West Papua or Indonesia’s membership bid.
He highlighted climate change as among challenges MSG member countries need to overcome in order “for peace, progress and prosperity is sustainable for all.” Efforts needed to be galvanised he said to ensure that “no one in any of our membership is left behind.”
Addressing senior MSG officials, MSG’s deputy director general Molean Kilepak highlighted several issues officials needed to discuss for presentation to their ministers and through them, to their leaders.
This he said included the MSG’s strategic plan for the next 25 years, and the creation of the MSG’s business arm, named Melanesian Solutions. The MSG Free Trade Agreement that will lead to the creation of a free trade area between all Melanesian countries is also on the agenda, Kilepak added, as well the need to create a Melanesia Emergency and Stablisation Fund and a MSG Development Fund.
Other possible agenda items include an MSG private sector development strategy, report of the Melanesian shipping study and the creation of an MSG police peacekeeping force.

3) Dutch journo attests to huge West Papuan support for MSG bid

Updated at 3:12 pm today

A Dutch journalist who has been travelling in Indonesia's Papua region says the depth of local support for a West Papuan application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group is huge.
MSG leaders are due in Honiara next week when they are expected to make a decision on a membership bid by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, an organisation of leading West Papuan representative groups.
Reporting undercover from Papua, Rohan Radheya says recently there have been many demonstrations in support of the bid.
"All the people I talk to, they are very optimistic that their Melanesian brothers and sisters will vote in their favour. They are hopeful but they're also very afraid... sort of: what next, after that, if we are abandoned again? That would be such a hard blow for them because they have worked for this MSG membership for such a long time. And if they get rejected that would definitely be a knockout blow for them."
Mr Radheya says many Papuans who demonstrate support of the MSG bid have been taken in by Indonesia's security forces.
He says foreign media outlets interested in covering this region should engage more with local journalists.
He says the plight of West Papuan journalists tends to be ignored in the growing commentary about access to Papua for foreign media.
Mr Radheya says despite the Indonesian president's recent claim that the ban on foreign journalists in Papua was being lifted, he doesn't believe the heavy restrictions are being lifted at all.
"But the point is there are so many local journalists here who face threats and intimidation daily by Indonesian forces. They are good journalists, they have a good network and some of the guys I met, they have bullet holes, they have been stabbed by forces, and they continue to wake up in the morning and just go about and do their jobs."
Mr Radheya says local journalists would be more than willing to contibute to foreign media outlets.
THURSDAY, 18 JUNE, 2015 | 08:12 WIB
4) Papuan Muslims Hold Burning Stone Ritual to Welcome Ramadan
TEMPO.COJakarta – The Muslim community in Mateor village, Jayapura, held the Burning Stone ritual to welcome the fasting month.
Community head Hadiman Asso, 37, said the ritual was meant to be a gathering, known assilaturahmi, ahead of the beginning of the fasting month.
"During the event, we can forgive and greet one another," he said during the ceremony on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
The Burning Stone ritual is a ceremony of cooking food using heated stones put on top of grass.
Atop of the stones, people place vegetables, cassava or meat, before covering them all again with grass to keep the heat. The cooking lasts for two to three hours.
Hadiman said Papuan Muslims have resided in the area since 1981. "Currently, there are 600 people or around 84 households in Jayapura,” he said. 

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