A senior staff member of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Franz Albert Joku, has rubbished the peaceful protest highlighting the plight of West Papua at the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, this week.
Mr Joku was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, Tantowi Yahya, during a press conference where they responded to the protest.
Ambassador Yahya said the protest concerned them greatly.
“The Pacific community should stick to the main agenda of the conference, which is the Blue Pacific. You know everything is connected to that,” he said.
Mr Yahya said their concern is that the protest could have overshadowed the main agendas of the conference.
“In our perspective, talking about West Papua in this conference is not the place because from the beginning there is no agenda as such.”
In the progress of the press conference, the Ambassador and Mr Joku’s voices were raised, causing Police Officers in the vicinity to approach the area
where the meeting was held.
“No! We just stick to the main agenda... but not the Papuans,” Mr.Yahya said.
Mr Joku intervened noting the West Papua issue is not new to the Pacific.
“It’s regrettable that Pacific Islanders all of the sudden want to address the Papua issue, now,” he said. “The Papua issue has been at the forefront since the late 50s and early 60s.
“We have seen our worst; where the hell were the Pacific Island nations when we really needed that kind of expression and that kind of concern coming from them?
“Now they are questioning the Independence and Colonisation referendum for Papua that have been relegated to the history pages. A lot of constitutional changes have taken place since.
“And we’re not on the same part as you have had previously... so we are not on that path. We’re about constitutional empowerment and we’re about emancipation, we want to develop our land, we will not be dictated by any forum or any other country because we needed you, and where were you?”
Mr Joku insisted the forum is not the place for the issue.
“Papua is very close to our heart and we will not be dictated by anyone. We Papuans, in Papua, will decide what we want to do.
“We’re under going constitutional mechanism and constitutional changes, we want to empower ourselves constitutionally, politically, economically and socially. When we needed the Pacific, when we needed Australia and when we needed New Zealand, you have not come to our aid.
“So we have worked our own arrangement within and that is what we are pursuing.”
Mr Joku added, “We’ve never seen Samoans and Fijians. And don’t pretend you want to help us. We know what we want. Have a balanced article and invite them to visit West Papua.
“You feed yourself with what you read on the internet, we invite you to come to Indonesia.
“We are not saying Papua is perfect, but let us attend to our own problems, do not provoke us, I have spent 14 years in PNG as a refugee with my family, we know exactly the subject that we raised, and up until today, we have gone without any help from you guys.”
Samoan senior solicitor Unasa Iuni Sapolu says it’s time for the Pacific nations to have a collective voice on West Papua.
“This is something the Pacific Forum should stand up for. At least half a million people have been murdered. There is genocide, there’s a holocaust in the West Pacific and what do we do? We sit back and have a holiday on public moneys.”
However Joku says things have changed.
“It’s no longer the Indonesia or Papua that we have known before," he says. “Come to Papua and have a look for yourselves.”