Saturday, July 30, 2016

(1). Statement to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and (2). Statement to the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) in Lautoka City/Fiji.

FYI From Rex Rumakiek.
(1). Statement to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and (2). Statement to the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) in Lautoka City/Fiji. Statement to the Leaders Meeting in Honiara was delivered by Octo Mote verbally.



Mr. Chairman and through you to the members of MSG, please accept my deep gratitude for granting ULMWP the opportunity to speak. I acknowledge your wise counsel for guiding and facilitating this meeting to success.  

I acknowledge the Chairman of MSG, Rt. Hon. Manase Sogovare. Our people honor your commitment and leadership in trying to find a peaceful, honorable and lasting solution to our issue.

I acknowledge the Host, Ratu Inoke, Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

I acknowledge past and present Chiefs and leaders of your beautiful Islands of Fiji.  It was through your guidance and wise leadership that your people recovered so quickly from recent natural disaster.

I acknowledge distinguished leaders and representatives from member countries. West Papuan people are indebted to your serious effort to bring an end this 54 years’ old conflict that caused so much suffering and trauma to our people.

Excellency’s Ladies and Gentlemen. 

Firstly, my apology for the Secretary General Mr. Octo Mote and Spokesperson Mr. Benny Wenda who could not attend due to technical reasons. Both gentlemen represented us in the last Summit in Honiara. Myself and Mr. Amatus Dow here are representing not only ULMWP but also the people of West Papua. I am reading our statement with full realization that our people back at home and Melanesia are watching with hope while those in jail are still waiting for justice (added verbally).

We are not a nation state as yet but like FLNKS we too wanted to become full member of this sub reginal institution. This is because we strongly believe in the Melanesia value of inclusiveness as a family.  Secondly, because the Kanaky and West Papuan issues were the very reasons for the creation of this sub-regional institution. Our specific reasons are given as direct response to the appropriate criteria as set out in the application form.

(1). The first question in the application deals with identification of who we are and our geographical location in Melanesia. Our country that we love to call West Papua is the Western half of the island of New Guinea. For clarity for this exercise I shall call it Indonesian New Guinea. The other half of the island is the independent State of Papua New Guinea.  This is the surest identification of who we are as a people and our place in Melanesia.

(2). The second criteria, is dealing with responsibility. As I stated earlier, we are a nation in the full meaning of the word, but not a state as yet. We fully understand the responsibilities of being a member. But, as an organization our capacity to deliver is constraint by the lack of state infrastructure. This however, should not be hindrance for our participation in the affairs of the Melanesian family. The understanding of our role and responsibilities in the Society are fully illustrated in UNDP report of 1994. The report stated that real security of a nation state involved all aspect of life in the society which include, social, economic, political, spiritual even environment. Therefore, security is the responsibility of the whole society instead of just one agency of the government (Security forces).

(3).  The third criteria, is dealing with Commitment which is the translation of our Integrity to commit our actions fully for the wellbeing of the Melanesian community. Excellences, the depth of our commitment for Melanesia has always been consistent and has stood the test of time.

(4). The 4th criteria, is dealing with ability to implement or abide by decisions of MSG. We can participate fully in the implementation of and guard decisions of MSG because our future depends on them.

(5). The idea of seeking approval by the administering power of our application cannot be entertained because the nature of our long standing resistance to the regime will surely cause rejection because it will be against their interest.

Sisters and brothers of MSG, the ULMWP looks forward to a constructive engagement on the many issues that we face together as a people in our pursuit for a future that we can determine for ourselves. We welcome the opportunity to deal with the issue of common interest in meaningful manner and through constructive dialogue.

For us in West Papua, we look towards you our sisters and brothers in Melanesia for your solidarity and support. We thank you for calling for international attention to the human rights of our people in our land. We remain hopeful that such atrocities will end. We pray for the perpetrators and victims.

I take this opportunity to thank you most kindly for your time and wish you all the success in the deliberation of the leaders tomorrow as well as in Honiara in July. We are resolute in our pursuit to sit as equals around the Melanesia table and as members of the MSG.
Vinaka vaka levu, tankiu tumas, merci beaucoup, terimakasih banian

Delegates at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Foreign Ministers Meeting in Fiji, 16 June 2016. The new MSG director-general Amena Yauvoli is in centre position. Photo: Melanesian Spearhead Group secretariat

 From left: Indonesian rep., Kanaky rep, Solomon Islands rep, MSG Secretariat rep, Fijian rep, PNG rep, West Papuan rep.


Congratulations to the people of Vanuatu on their 36 years of Independence

Vanuatu Independence Day- 30 July 1980

Congratulations to the people of Vanuatu on their 36 years of Independence and on their continuous and courageous support for the people of West Papua in their self-determination struggle.


Citizens urged to celebrate the true meaning of independence

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016 8:00 am
By Anita Roberts | 0 comments

Yesterday's victory march through Port Vila town 
All citizens of Vanuatu are urged to celebrate this year with the true meaning of Independence, instead of making “fundraising” out of it.
The chairman of the Independence committee, Mayor Ulrich Sumptoh, said the above when he was addressing a massive audience at the Independence Park after yesterday’s victory march through town to launch this year’s celebrations.

Mayor Sumptoh conveyed that it is the intention of the committee which he lead to stop community events in the near future.
He stressed that citizens must learn to celebrate independence in a meaningful way and that is observing the day when Vanuatu was freed from colonial powers, being able to govern itself and breathing the sweet air of liberty.
Having a one day celebration is also an effective cost measure for the Port Vila Municipal Council, he added. Having said that, he applauded the government for its allocation towards making this year’s event a great one.
Port Vila, which is the host to the largest independence celebration, has been organizing victory parades since 1980.
The first victory parade was held in 1980 prior to July 30 from Fung Kuei to the old government building.
At that time it was led by the famous Tokelau String Band highlighting Port Vila street with the song ‘Forward we are marching on’.
Yesterday’s parade was led by the Vanuatu VMF/Police Force followed by Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai, Minister of Justice and Community Services, Ronald Warsal, Mayor of Port Vila City Sumptoh, councilors, MPs, Senior government officers, men, women and youth.
Minister Warsal on the authorization of the minister responsible of independence celebration, Alfred Moah from Internal Affairs, made the official declaration of this year’s nation wide 36th independence anniversary.
While recalling the famous saying from late Father Walter Lini which states: ‘’Vanuatu is not truly independent until all Melanesia is free,” Minister Warsal’s message to everyone was to take the day to reflect on the struggle of the Melanesian sisters and brothers from New Caledonia (kanaky) and West Papua.
He advised everyone to celebrate in the christian way.
Yesterday’s guard of honor was performed by Prime Minister Salwai.
A minute silence was requested to think about the late leaders who fought hard for the country’s freedom.
Front pages of Vanuatu Daily Post showing support for West Papua . Bottom left 2006 . Right 2014


1) Governor tells Papuans to avoid politics

2) Jayapura hosts evacuees after Timika clash

1) Governor tells Papuans to avoid politics
Bambang Muryanto The Jakarta Post
Yogyakarta | Sat, July 30 2016 | 08:06 am

A mediation session between Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono and Papuan students in Yogyakarta on Friday failed to bridge their differences. The provincial leader insisted on banning the students from engaging in political activities.

The governor said he would not allow the Papuan students to voice their political beliefs, particularly on the campaign for Papuan self-determination.

He conveyed the message during a meeting with representatives of the Papuan students alongside councilors from the Papuan legislative council.

“With regard to politics, the sultan kept restricting us. Nonetheless, we will continue speaking about it. We will not stay silent,” Papuan Students Association chairman Aris Yeimo said after the hearing.

The mediation session was held following a mid-July crackdown against Papuan students to prevent them from conducting a rally in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s (ULMWP) campaign for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

During the mediation session, Aris said he told the sultan that following the incident, Papuan students did not feel safe as they were often the target of racist comments from unidentified passersby in front of their dormitory on Jl. Kusumanegara. 

A student was even hit by an unidentified motorist in Maguwo, causing him to suffer a broken leg.

Aries said that during the meeting the sultan had expressed his willingness to offer security assurances to Papuan students but refused to apologize for labeling them separatists and for banning them from being in Yogyakarta.

“He just said that if Papuan students engaged in introspection, the statements would be withdrawn,” Aris said.

Aris added that the Sultan had also promised to censure mass organizations yelling racist words against Papuans and to ask the Yogyakarta Police to refrain from surrounding their dormitory.

“We expect the sultan to issue an instruction that will be heard by the people to clean up the negative stigma around us. We want to develop Yogyakarta together,” he said.

Laurenzus Kadepa, a Papuan provincial councilor who joined the meeting, also asked the sultan to take care of Papuan students and people living in Yogyakarta, saying that they were valuable assets.

“That is what we do to people coming to Papua. We take good care of them,” he said.

With regard to the restriction on Papuan students from engaging in politics, Laurenzus said it was their right and should not be restricted. As long as the acts were conducted without violence, then no regulation was violated. Repressive acts, he said, would only create a bad image.

Previously, Natalius Pigai from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) also said that freedom of speech was guaranteed by the Constitution and that the Convention on Civil and Political Rights had already been ratified by Indonesia.

After the mediation session, the Sultan was not available for comment. The Yogyakarta administration’s acting secretary Rani Sjamsinarsi, who joined in the hearing, also declined to comment.

Yogyakarta Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti has repeatedly denied accusations that the Yogyakarta Police committed repressive actions and violated human rights when dealing with the Papuan students’ rally.

“All was conducted according to standard operating procedures,” she said.

2) Jayapura hosts evacuees after Timika clash

Nether Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura | Sat, July 30 2016 | 08:07 am
The Jayapura administration has begun collecting data on 353 evacuees from Timika currently being accommodated at the Toli dormitory in the GIDI Church compound in Polomo, Sentani, Papua.

“We are collecting data on their needs and we will report it to the provincial administration for further measures,” head of the Jayapura Nation Unity Agency, Yanto Dago, said on the sidelines of a visit to the evacuation center on Friday.

Based on the data, eight additional evacuees arrived at the site on Friday on board Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air flights.

“There are many others who want to come here but they cannot get flight tickets,” said Joni Wonda, who is in charge of evacuees in Polomo.

He said evacuees began fleeing to Jayapura following a clash between people of different ethnic groups in Timika on Sunday.

Nundison Kogoya, a third grader of SMA Kuala Kencana senior high school in Timika, who was among the evacuees in Jayapura, said that when his village Jile Jale SP III Timika was attacked on Monday, he was at home, preparing to go to school.

“All of a sudden they came to our village and attacked us. An arrow hit me on my leg and I ran away into the forest,” Nudison said, showing his wounded leg.

He said he only returned to his house in the afternoon for medical help. He arrived in Jayapura on Thursday together with family members. He said they bought flight tickets by themselves.

Mira Kogoya, 25, another evacuee, said the latest clash was brutal and went beyond customary rules.

Mira said people attacked the village in the morning, killing anything they found on the street, such as pigs and dogs. They also burned houses, attacked women and children and reportedly raped and killed people.

“I was very terrified seeing all of that. We evacuated to the GIDI Church in SP III Timika and then flew here to Jayapura,” Mira said.

The coordinator of the evacuees from Timika, Danison Wenda, said people had lost their homes and possessions as the attackers had burned and looted their houses.

“It’s a brutal war. The customary regulations in war ban people from attacking women and children, but this time they even killed school children,” Danison said.

He said the evacuees had been left homeless as they were too traumatized to return to their village. “They will only return when there is a guarantee from the government that no more war will prevail there.”

During their stay at the evacuation center in Timika, the evacuees depended on residents for food as their own local administration had not provided anything. A similar situation can be seen at their current evacuation center in Sentani.

“Local people here cook at their own houses and then bring food here for us to eat together,” Danison said.

The clash in Timika erupted on Sunday, with three people killed and dozens injured, along with 25 houses burned down and dozens of others damaged. Scores of vehicles were also set alight. Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw is in Timika to help create peace between the two warring groups and has approached community figures on both sides.

“If peace is difficult to achieve, the security apparatus will take stern action,” he told reporters in Timika.

Members of both the military and the police have been put on guard in Kwamki Narama village to prevent the conflict continuing.

Chairman of the Paniai customary institution, John Gobay, asked the police to arrest the commanders on each side of the clash, arguing that they took control of the conflict.

“After that, reconcile them by involving all the regents in the mountain range regions and PT Freeport,” John told The Jakarta Post in Jayapura on Wednesday, while suggesting that during the reconciliation period, parties should have heart-to-heart talks to uncover the root causes of the ongoing conflict.

He added that many of the people in the mountainous regions were actually related and that everything could be solved through dialogue.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Photos-Sydney rally- justice for the children in Don Dale and all prisons

Town Hall Sydney Saturday  30 July

SBS News article
30 JUL 2016 - 1:50PM

UN human rights body warns Aust on abuse

The United Nations human rights commission is calling for compensation for victims of abuse at the Don Dale youth detention centre. 

30 JUL 2016 - 1:50 PM  UPDATED 1 HOUR AG
The United Nations Human Rights Commission has warned Australia could be in violation of two child rights conventions over the abuse of teen boys in Northern Territory detention.
The UN high commissioner for human rights has also called for compensation for Don Dale centre victims and psychosocial rehabilitation.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched a royal commission into youth detention in the NT after the ABC aired brutal footage of boys being stripped naked, tear-gassed and held in solitary confinement.
One boy was shackled to a "mechanical device" chair before being left alone for two hours while another was tackled, lifted and hurled across a room.
"We are shocked by the video footage that has emerged from Don Dale youth detention centre," a spokesman for the high commissioner said in a statement.
The commissioner labelled the conditions "inhumane" and the treatment "cruel".
"Most of the children who were held at the detention facility are deeply traumatised," the spokesman said.
The UN commission warned Australia it could be in breach of the convention of the rights of the child and the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment - to which Australia is a party.
The inquiry launched as a result of the footage was an important step, the spokesman said, however the commission believes it should be extended to all other jurisdictions in the country.
The opposition has said there could be scope to broaden the royal commission, but Mr Turnbull believes a focused inquiry would be more successful.
The commission called for Australia to establish a system of regular visits to detention centres.
"We call on the authorities to identify those who committed abuses against the children and to hold them responsible for such acts," the statement said.
The royal commission is due to report by March 31.

Good-bye, Indonesia

7.29.16  Andre Barahamin is a researcher working for the PUSAKA Foundation and the editor of IndoPROGRESS. 

Good-bye, Indonesia

West Papua is fighting for independence from Indonesia — but will it win regional solidarity for its efforts?

Our new issue, “Rank and File,” will be out August 8. To celebrate its release, new subscriptions are discounted.

On July 13, Indonesian delegates — angry because the Morning Star Flag, emblem of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), was flown alongside other members’ flags — walked out of the first day of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) leaders’ summit.
The ULMWP is a coalition of Papuan freedom fighters demanding independence from Indonesian control. It and Indonesia have both applied for full membership status in the MSG, but for very different reasons. ULMWP hopes the MSG can bring international attention to their struggle for self-determination, while Indonesia wants to shore up its economic position in the region.
The Indonesian diplomats demanded the flag be taken down, but the organizers ignored them, and the opening ceremony proceeded without the Indonesian delegation.
The summit resulted in a split decision over the ULMWP’s membership status. Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) of New Caledonia strongly support ULMWP, while Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) — nations Indonesia has courted with sweetheart economic deals and financial support — oppose it.
The Indonesian delegations’ dramatic exit and the ensuing vote over ULMWP’s membership can help us understand long-standing political fault lines in the region that date back to the 1970s anti-colonization wave.

The MSG and Freedom

For fifty-two years, different political groups have been fighting for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. Although their ideologies differ, each has pursued a common strategy: trying to build diplomatic connections by joining the MSG.
On December 7, 2014, a historic meeting of these independence groups took place in Vanuatu. Papuan leaders from different factions of the movement came together and formed the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
This new organization consists of the three main groups — the Federal Republic State of West Papua (NRFPB), the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), and the National Parliament of West Papua (NPWP) — that had until then waged separate struggles for Papuan self-determination. Once they joined forces, they were able to resubmit an MSG application as well as counter Indonesian claims of West Papuan division.
Since it was established, the ULMWP has enjoyed full support from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which, along with Papua New Guinea, originally founded the MSG.
The MSG began in 1986 as a political gathering of these three independent Melanesian states. In 1989 FNLKS joined, followed by Fiji in 1996. Since then, the MSG has developed into a regional bloc with its own trade agreement. On March 23, 2007, the five members signed the Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Groupand formalized their coalition under international law.
The MSG differs from the other political grouping in the region — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — in important ways. For one, it takes a more radical approach to human rights violations than ASEAN.
While ASEAN was founded by pro–United States countries, the MSG developed in the spirit of anticolonialism that spread throughout the region in the 1970s. American interests drive ASEAN, but the MSG’s geopolitical identity — especially its claim to represent Melanesia — was forged in its member nations’ struggle against colonial occupation.
The FNKLS’s MSG membership bears this out. The New Caledonian group doesn’t represent a nation, but a political party that has long called for its nation’s political independence from France. The MSG has played an important role in raising FNKLS’s profile globally and making the Kanak Independence Movement an international topic of discussion. The MSG’s history with FNKLS makes the group especially attractive to the West Papuan freedom fighters.

Who Are Melanesians?

An important aspect of the MSG comes from its self-identification as Melanesian, a term that describes a specific group of South Pacific residents, distinct from both the Polynesian and the Micronesian people.
Melanesia literally means “islands of the black-skinned people” and refers geographically to a subregion of Oceania that extends from the western side of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, north and northeast of Australia. Jules Dumont d’Urville first used the term in 1832, but his classification is now considered inaccurate because it ignores the area’s broad cultural, linguistic, social, and genetic diversity.
The original inhabitants of the Melanesian islands were likely the ancestors of the present-day Papuan-speaking people. They are thought to have occupied New Guinea — now divided between independent Papua New Guinea and West Papua under Indonesian control — and reached the other Melanesian islands around thirty-five thousand years ago. They appear to have settled islands as far east as the Solomons, and perhaps even farther.
Around four thousand years ago, the Austronesian people came into contact with the Melanesians along New Guinea’s north coast. A long period of interaction produced many complex changes in genetics, languages, and culture, which are mistakenly used to condense Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian people into one category.
A study published by Temple University, which found that Polynesians and Micronesians have little genetic relation to Melanesians, contests this belief. In fact, it found significant diversity between the groups who live within the Melanesian islands.
Melanesians share a common bond based on identity and a growing consensus against non-Melanesian control. Vanuatu leads what can be called the Pan-Melanesian movement. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly on October 11, 1984, Vanuatu foreign minister Sela Molisa condemned the United Nations for constantly ignoring apartheid in West Papua and closing their eyes to Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor.
Even beyond the region, Indonesian control of West Papua has become a contentious issue. At a UN hearing this June, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands condemned Indonesian security forces for human rights violations in West Papua. Both countries argued that any future visits by the UN Special Reporter on Freedom of Expression should include West Papua.
The Vanuatu statement expressed its “deepest concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation,” citing regular reports of gross human rights violations in West Papua.
The Solomon Islands, meanwhile, strongly endorsed the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) forum, held in London this May. The gathering called for an internationally supervised vote on West Papua’s independence, a declaration cosigned by cross-regional parliamentarians from fifteen UN member states.
Unsurprisingly, the Indonesian representative reacted strongly, accusing both Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands of their own human rights violations.

Indonesia and Melanesia

Indonesia applied for MSG membership for the first time in 2010. It claimed that, because of its population of at least eleven million Melanesians — spreading throughout the provinces of Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, and East Nusa Tenggara — it belonged in the regional bloc. But the country’s overtures were met with skepticism.
Most damningly, Indonesia failed to address the cultural differences between Melanesians and Polynesians. For instance, in October of last year, it organized a Melanesian Cultural Festival aiming to promote cultural pluralism and demonstrate how integral Melanesians are to the country. But the event was held in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, a Polynesian — not Melanesian — region.
Prior to the event, Indonesia brought a team to lobby the Melanesian countries, but one of the spokespeople was a Polynesian priest from East Nusa Tenggara. Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands both highlighted Indonesia’s confusion over the difference between Polynesian and Melanesian people, arguing that the people outside Papua who Indonesia likes to refer to as Melanesian are in fact Polynesian.
The confusion didn’t stop there. Indonesia invited East Timor — a Polynesian country — to participate in the cultural festival. The event opened with a dance performance billed as Papuan, but the dancers all came from Malay and Polynesia. The director of a documentary that was supposed screen at the festival pulled out, explaining that she would not let Indonesia use her movie to support its claims on Melanesia.
Indonesia quickly realized that it could not make a credible cultural claim, so the country devised a new strategy: positioning itself as an ideal economic partner for MSG countries.
It targeted Papua New Guinea first. Since their partnership, PNG’s GDP has increased 16 percent. The growing trade links and budding economic ties between the two nations are a match made in free-market heaven. They share land and water borders as well as impressive portfolios of vast natural resources and accessible transportation routes into commercial Asian markets.
Papua New Guinea’s quickly expanding middle class provides Indonesian products and services with a massive new market. And both countries have growing populations, making new labor pools available to globally competitive industries such as manufacturing and textiles. Also, thanks to improvements in information and communications technology, they benefit from newfound access to otherwise inaccessible markets and to geographically remote — yet commercially viable — sectors like agriculture and forestry.
At the invitation of PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill, Indonesian president Joko Widodo visited Port Moresby in May 2015 to negotiate cooperative economic, trade, investment, and infrastructure projects. The two leaders also agreed to increase the value of their current bilateral trade agreement beyond current trading activities in the border areas, which already reach $4.5 million a year.
The two countries have signed eleven memoranda of understanding and three agreements to strengthen their partnership based on mutual respect, O’Neill said. Papua New Guinean elites cite their willingness “to learn from Indonesia’s rich experiences in democracy.”
Next, Indonesia turned to Fiji. In April, an Indonesian delegation — led by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs — traveled to the country. Pandjaitan met with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, extending $5 million in financial assistance to help the victims of Tropical Cyclone Winston, which hit Fiji in late February. Indonesia sent an additional $3 million worth of goods to aid recovery, and promised to deploy engineer troops to help reconstruct Queen Victoria School on Lawaki Island.
The engagement was welcomed by Fijian elites. Ina Seriaritu, Fiji’s minister of agriculture, rural, maritime affairs, and national disaster management openly praised Indonesia as a key player in the Asia-Pacific region, and called the country’s success in disaster management and mitigation a model. Seriaritu also hailed the two countries’ plans to intensify educational, agricultural, and economic cooperation.
Indonesia moved fast, sending Husni Kamil Manik — chairman of the Indonesian general election commission — to sign a memorandum on cooperation for election management with his Fijian counterpart.
As Indonesia’s public face in Fiji, Pandjaitan expressed his country’s keenness to become a full member of the MSG and listed Fiji as one of its strategic allies. In exchange, Fiji’s foreign minister Inoke Kubuabola remarked that the Fijian government had proposed upgrading Indonesia’s membership status to strengthen the nation’s position in the group of Melanesian countries.
These economic investments later paid off: both PNG and Fiji supported Indonesia at the MSG meeting this July. They not only endorsed Indonesia’s proposal to become a full member — the nation was granted associate member status in 2015 — but also took Indonesia’s side in debates over the criteria for membership in the regional alliance.
But Indonesia’s desire to prevent ULMWP from obtaining full membership has an important side effect: it endangers the FLNKS’s status as co-founding member. Because the FLNKS is a pro-independence political organization, its status is in many ways dependent on that of the ULMWP.

The Repression

The response to MSG in Indonesia and West Papua is telling. When Indonesia achieved associate membership status, Jakarta newspapers ignored the country’s failure to get full membership and instead focused on its successful block of ULMWP’s application.
The anticolonial party was granted observer status thanks to support from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands at the same meeting. In stark contrast to how it was reported in the capital, ULMWP supporters in Port Numbay celebrated their new status as an internationally significant step in their lengthy diplomatic campaign.
During this year’s MSG meeting, the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) welcomed the summit by holding mass rallies. KNPB chairperson Victor Yeimo called for protesters to present a united front to the international community to increase political pressure on Indonesia. More than five hundred people were arrested over the course of the day.
These protests were not the first time Indonesia shut down a nonviolent KNPB rally. Indonesian repression against West Papua has only increased since June 2015. The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation(LBH Jakarta) frequently criticizes the police for their violence. According to Papua Itu Kita (“Papua Are Us”), an Indonesian solidarity network, police have arrested more than six thousand KNPB members and supporters since last summer. Mass KNPB rallies are outlawed, which grants the police and army license for repression.
Recently in Yogyakarta, pro-Indonesia militias stormed the university, harassed Papuan students, and chanted racist epithets while blockading the Kamasan dormitory. The militia group tried to break into the dorm to attack, but the students defended themselves by locking the main gate.
About one hundred students were inside without sufficient food or water. But the police were no help: when two students ventured outside to buy cassava, sweet potatoes, and vegetables for lunch, they were detained and had their food confiscated. In total, seven activists were arrested and charged with treason.
When the news spread across social media, many Indonesians showed their solidarity by collecting food, water, and other basic needs for the Papuans. The country’s Red Cross attempted to deliver aid, but police ordered it to stay away from the location. The next day, in a clear attempt at intimidation, the police held their morning muster outside the dorm.
At the same time, students in Manado and North Sulawesi were not allowed to march, and two activists were arrested and charged with treason as well. Naturally, Indonesia’s restrictions and censorship, its denial of access to international bodies, and its ban on journalists entering Papua have all failed to convince these Melanesians that they are really Indonesians.

What’s Next?

The next special MSG summit will take place before September in Vanuatu. But there are some questions that need to be settled first.
For ULMWP, the June vote marked a delay, not a full stop. The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, ULMWP, and FLKNS just signed an agreement demanding ULMWP’s full membership status in MSG, and connecting the Kanak independence struggle against French rule with West Papua’s fight against Indonesia. The prime ministers of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the FLKNS chairperson, and the ULMWP general secretary all signed it.
Following the agreement, this new alliance met with Polynesian and Micronesian countries in the first international meeting between these nations, political groups, and regional alliances in the Pacific.
Indonesia, on the other hand, continues to tout its success in stalling the ULMWP’s diplomatic aims. Indonesian media repeats state propaganda, referring to the ULMWP as a separatist group that only represents a small part of exiled Papuans.
The majority of Indonesians believe that the problems in West Papua can be solved with more development. They praised the Widodo regime for expanding infrastructure — by grabbing hundreds of acres of indigenous land — and building schools that assimilate Papuan children into the Indo-Malay culture.
For example, they encourage Papuans to have a “more civilized way of life” by eating rice instead of sago. But this is really because sago forests are being converted into palm oil, pulp, and paper mega-plantations. This exploitative economic relationship is one reason why Indonesia will put up a vicious fight to prevent Papuan independence.
At the same time, another group of Indonesians believe that the Papuan demand for self-determination can be resolved by addressing the dozens of open human rights violation cases. They call on the Indonesian government to form separate independent bodies to address each case.
Another faction calls for a “democratic solution”: holding a “peace dialogue as one nation” between Jakarta and the Papuan people. All the extrajudicial killings, all the land grabs, and all the long-term discrimination and racism will be solved through dialogue, and the self-determination demand will be forgotten.
But with each passing day this liberal solution looks more and more far-fetched. Independence is the only solution.