1) MSG rumblings over Indonesia will cool down, says PNG
4:03 pm today
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister has downplayed signs of tensions in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Leaders from MSG members states Solomon Islands and Fiji have been engaged in a war of words this month over Indonesia's involvement in the group.
The rift went public with recent comments by Solomon Islands' deputy prime minister Manasseh Sogavare that Fiji forced other MSG members to accept Indonesia in the group.
PNG's Rimbink Pato said as the current MSG chair holder, his country will work to maintain Melanesian unity.
Speaking in New Zealand, Mr Pato said it is typical of Melanesian peoples to have their differences.
"But there's a time to party together and get together and shake hands and move forward," he said.
"So I think those rumblings will come to an end."
"Of course we had those with Fiji, Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum some years back," said Mr Pato.
"But PNG was taking a role to resolve those issues, and see where we are, we are together now.”
Indonesia's entry to the MSG has been characterised by politicians from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands as being aimed at countering a West Papuan bid for full membership in the group.
The Solomon's MP Matthew Wale has warned that having Indonesia in the group would continue to divide the independent Melanesian states.
Indonesia's government has argued that it has more people of Melanesian stock than any other country and therefore deserves its associate member status in the MSG.
However, an application for full MSG membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua remained on the table and is being processed by the MSG Secretariat.
"There is a process and the application was the subject of recent discussions," Mr Pato explained, adding that the competence of the MSG to be decisive on this long-running issue was very clear.
"And the criteria for membership is being worked on, and we the foreign ministers (of MSG) will look at it, make the appropriate recommendations to the leaders. The leaders will then make a decision as to what the outcome (will be)."
Rimbink Pato said that the PNG government fully supported Indonesian territorial control of Papua.
"There is no authority permitted by the MSG constitution which allows membership of non-sovereign states, or loose entities, as it were."
He told RNZ Pacific that the case of the Liberation Movement was different to that of New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks movement which, although also not an independent state, was a full MSG member.
There aremultiple accountsof how Rico Ayomi, a 17-year-old student, died in Sorong, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, after 24 hours in police detention.
Police initially said Ayomi was found unconscious near an empty bottle of 70-percent alcohol when they detained him at midnight on March 11, indicating that his death 27 hours later was due to “alcohol poisoning.”
But Simon Soren, a relative of Ayomi’s, told Human Rights Watch that when police returned Ayomi to his family 24 hours after they detained him, he was unconscious and had injuries including “bruises on his left cheek, left shoulder, a bleeding nose and a broken jaw.” Ayomi never regained consciousness and died three hours later. Soren said eyewitnesses told him that a mob had assaulted Ayomi on the evening of March 11, accusing him of theft.
On March 21, Sorong’s deputy police chief, Chandra Ismawanto, told Human Rights Watch that the police assessment of “alcohol poisoning” as the cause of Ayomi’s death was “controversial” and that police now suspected Ayomi died from a combination of excessive alcohol consumption and amob beating. He declined to say whether police were investigating. Ismawanto said the results of an autopsy would be available last week, but neither we nor the family have been able to get the results.
Questions about police conduct in Ayomi’s case don’t end there. Ismawanto confirmed that police waited 23 hours after they detained Ayomi to take him to a hospital, attributing the delay to slow official approval. He said police noted Ayomi’s failure to regain consciousness while in detention as “strange,” but that a doctor at the hospital certified that he was “healthy.”
The circumstances of Ayomi’s death demand a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation. But that is unlikely to happen. Indonesian authoritiesrarely investigatesecurity forces implicated in the deaths of Papuans. In cases in which investigations do occur, police found culpable in unlawful killings invariably faceadministrative wrist-slapsrather than criminal prosecution.
Until there is political will in Jakarta to meaningfully investigate and prosecute the killings of Papuans by security forces or unidentified attackers, the lives of Papuans such as Rico Ayomi will remain at risk.