Wednesday, May 25, 2016

1) Jakarta has something to hide, says Wenda

2) MSG chair reminds Jakarta about decolonisation

3) MSG special leaders summit deferred again

4) Indonesia is NOT Melanesia


1) Jakarta has something to hide, says Wenda
6:20 pm today

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua claims Indonesia is paranoid about regional efforts to seek accurate information regarding Papua region.
This follows claims by the Melanesian Speahead Group chairman, Manasseh Sogavare, that Jakarta has failed to respond to requests by the MSG and the Pacific Islands Forum for dialogue about the situation in Papua.
Indonesian officials said Jakarta was keeping Pacific governments informed.
But the Liberation Movement's spokesman, Benny Wenda, is concerned that some Pacific governments are being misled by Jakarta.
He said extensive ground reports from Papua indicated ongoing rampant human rights abuses.
"So all this testimony, all these witness accounts that we presented to all the Melanesian leaders or the Pacific is real, and we have a lot of evidence. So that's why Indonesia is worried if Sogavare calling for the engaged dialogue and they always saying oh there's no problem in West Papua, this is internal problem we're dealing with. But actually something, they hide."

The Liberation Movement was granted observer status at the MSG last year and is applying for full membership in the group alongside Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia's FLNKS movement.
The matter is expected to be decided on at an upcoming MSG leaders summit in Port Moresby within the next month.
However, Indonesia, which was given asociate members status at the MSG last year, is also seeking full membership in the sub-regional organisation.
Indonesian officials told media that PNG and Fiji were supportive of Jakarta's bid.
However recent comments from the governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu indicate frustration that since being involved in the MSG, Jakarta had not acted in good faith about addressing concerns over West Papua.
As such, Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai suggested Indonesia be stripped of its membership in the group.

'Zero Trust'

The frustrations in the MSG reflect sentiment among West Papuan leaders - both Papua-based and exiled leaders.
Benny Wenda said that after five decades of mistreatment, Papuans have zero trust in Jakarta.
"Never trust Indonesia," he said. "Even Indonesia look at West Papua as a colony and they treated West Papuans as second class citizens, they also never trust West Papua."
"So that's why our aim is to be free from Indonesia. And then one day we can work together because we are close neighbours."
Benny Wenda said West Papuans recognised the need to take their self-determination aspirations to a higher level.
He described the recent declaration in London by the International Parliamentarians for West Papua for an internationally-supervised vote in Papua as an important breakthrough.

2) MSG chair reminds Jakarta about decolonisation
11:06 am today
The chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has defended his criticism of Indonesia over its alleged failure to engage with the region over West Papua.
Manasseh Sogavare, who is also Solomon Islands Prime Minister, recently claimed that Indonesia joined the MSG for the purpose of protecting its own interests, rather than discussing human rights in West Papua.
It drew a sharp rebuke from Jakarta where the Director General for Asia, Pacific and Africa, Desra Percaya, said Mr Sogavare's claims were not based on reality.
He also said Mr Sogavare's statements violated the basic principles of sovereignty and non-interference, as contained in the MSG Establishing Agreement.
However the MSG Chair's Special Envoy on West Papua, Rex Stephen Horoi, said the chair would like to remind Jakarta that one of the key overarching principles of the group is the principle of decolonisation of Melanesia.
"This is a fundamental principle that binds the Melanesian countries and all MSG members together," he said.
"In this principle, MSG stands for its defense and promotion of independence as the inalienable right of indigenous peoples of Melanesia."
Mr Sogavare also sought to remind Jakatra that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua was also a part of the MSG, with observer status.
He claimed the refusal of Indonesia's government so far to discuss West Papua with him showcases Jakarta's intention of not engaging in dialogue about the serious allegations of human rights issues.
The MSG chair has reiterated his offer to the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to discuss matters of common interest within the space provided by the MSG.

3) MSG special leaders summit deferred again

12:33 pm today

The Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders Summit scheduled to take place in the next two weeks in Port Moresby has been postponed again.
The special summit is being called by the current MSG chair, the Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Its purpose is to discuss the appointment of a new director general for the sub-regional group and to consider full membership for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
It was originally to have taken place in Port Vila at the beginning of the month but was deferred because of a brief period of political instability in Solomon Islands.
It may now be held at the end of June.
The latest postponement is reportedly a clash in the timing of the event with Papua New Guinea's hosting of the 8th African, Carribean and Pacific Leaders summit which starts next week.
Both issues to be considered at the summit have been the subject of some controversy.
First the premature announcement of Fiji diplomat Amena Yauvoli as the new Director General of the MSG was rejected by PNG and Vanuatu.
And more recently a war of words that has erupted between Indonesia and the Solomon Islands over the MSG chair's allegations that Jakarta's interest in the MSG were self-serving.
The latter was prompted by Jakarta's rejection of an invitation to open dialogue with the MSG on concerns about human rights abuses in Papua.

4) Indonesia is NOT Melanesia

LATE last week, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement rejecting the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s comments on the issue of West Papua and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
In his statement, Manasseh Sogavare proposes that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) be given full membership to the MSG.

He asserts that the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet him, as Chair of the MSG, demonstrates that Jakarta joined the MSG merely to “protect its own interest other than engage in dialogue about the serious human rights issues in West Papua.”

In response, Indonesia’s newly appointed Director General for Asia Pacific and Africa, Ambassador Desra Percaya, described Sogavare’s statement as a violation of “the basic principles of sovereignty and non-interference as enshrined in the Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2007."

He went on to say, "it is . . . myopic for Prime Minister Sogavare to speculate that Indonesia’s agenda in the Pacific, let alone in the MSG, is solely Papua driven."

While I respect Indonesia’s right to respond, it is vital that Melanesian and other Pacific Island countries do not allow Jakarta to dictate what we believe, say and do, especially when it comes to the defense of human rights.

Indonesia has persistently committed human rights violations, including atrocities, against Melanesians in West Papua for over 50 years.

That is not a myth. It is the truth. It has been verified and documented by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and other independent bodies.

For Indonesia to say that it is “long committed to address human rights issues,” is misleading and an attempt to deflect attention from realities on the ground in West Papua.

Indonesia, plus international organizations such as the United Nations, as well as the governments of countries like the US, Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, etc. must correct the mistakes of the 1960s; the fraudulent processes that led to the transfer of West Papua’s sovereignty from the Dutch to Indonesia.

History is relevant to this discussion. As Australian academic, Jason MacLeod, states,

“Continued rule by the Indonesian government in West Papua is founded on the myth that the transfer of sovereignty from the Netherlands to the Unitary Republic of Indonesia was free and fair. It was not. Events surrounding the transfer of sovereignty remain a core Papuan grievance. This grievance is not just historical. It has a contemporary dimension. The lack of willingness to discuss history contributes to the Papuan perception that there has been a ‘death of democracy’ in West Papua.”

The international community needs to correct the wrongs of the past and hold Indonesia accountable for its continuing human rights violations.

This is central to the injustices that have deprived indigenous West Papuans their right to self-determination.

In an effort to rebuttal the growing support for West Papuan independence, Jakarta is re-inventing and re-presenting itself as a Melanesian and Pacific Islands country.

Through subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – use of language, it writes itself in as part of Oceania.

The statement released by Indonesia last week, for example, states that, “as part of the Pacific, Indonesia developed partnerships with several key countries in the region to ensure that the bilateral ties are strong and productive.”

Most Pacific Islanders, however, would not think of Indonesia as “part of the Pacific.” It is not part of our “imagined community,” or to borrow from the late Epeli Hau’ofa, “our sea of islands.”

This re-presentation is also obvious in Indonesia’s attempts to forge itself as a Melanesian country. It argues it should become a member of the MSG by virtue of having ethic Melanesians as citizens.

To increase its “Melanesian population,” it includes Maluku and the nearby islands as part of its “Melanesian Provinces.”

In these diplomatic maneuverings, Jakarta is stretching the boundaries and definitions of Melanesia and Pacific Islands to suit its political, economic and strategic agendas.

It deploys identities, albeit misconceived, as a political tool of inclusiveness.

What the Indonesian Government conveniently erases from this narrative is that Melanesian West Papuans make up for only 0.67% of Indonesia’s total population of over 260 million people.

The Melanesians are also the most discriminated against: they have been murdered, oppressed, abused and marginalized in their own land.

Furthermore, it is predicted by 2020, Melanesians will make up for only 28.99% of the total population of West Papua. The rest will be Malays from densely populated islands such as Java.

This is part of a concerted effort by Jakarta to assimilate West Papua into Indonesia.

As part of this strategy, Jakarta has used population census as a political tool. While the 1971 and 2000 population censuses made a distinction between Papuans (Melanesians) and non-Papuans, the 2010 census did not make that distinction, enumerating everybody as West Papuans. Melanesians will eventually be absorbed as “Indonesians,” continuing Sukarno’s policy of building a unitary republic.

Interestingly, Jakarta peddles the story that it is “the third largest democracy, [and therefore] respect for human rights is an essential principle for Indonesia.”

The sub-text here is that size – the third largest democracy – warrants a commitment to human rights principles. Of course, that is not necessarily true. Also, the invoking of size is meant (either intentionally or unintentionally) to intimidate.

But Pacific Island countries should not be intimidated. We might be small and imperfect democracies, but we compensate that with huge principles that uphold human rights.

Furthermore, in its statement, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs flaunts the issue of sovereignty to counter what it views as the Solomon Islands PM’s infringement into its national affairs; West Papua is a national issue.

But it is worth noting that sovereignty is not absolute, especially when a country has perpetrated human rights abuses for over 50 years.

The international community must not allow the Indonesian government to use sovereignty as an excuse for continuing human rights violations in West Papua.

Another twist to this story is that although West Papua contributes significantly to Indonesia’s economy, it is the province with lowest development index.

Between 1992 to 2011, for example, the Grasberg Mine, owned by the US company, Freeport-McMoran Inc., made direct payments to the Indonesian government totaling US$12.1 billion. This is made up of $7.3 billion in coporate income tax; $2.3 billion in employee income tax, regional tax and other levies; $1.2 billion in royalties and $1.2 billion in dividends.

Indigenous West Papuans have been economically marginalized and have not benefited equitably from the mine and other natural resource investments.

Given the above, I support the Solomon Islands Government on this issue. We might be a small country, but we must not let Indonesia bully us.

Contrary to the statement by Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s statement is not “myopic.” Rather, it reflects an understanding of issues far into the past and well into future.

It is the Indonesian government that is myopic in its treatment of this issue and of Melanesians.

Mannaseh Sogavare and the Solomon Islands Government, you have my support.

Don’t let Indonesia bully us. Vote Indonesia out of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Indonesia is not Melanesia.

Honolulu, Hawai’i

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