RadioNZ – Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders say they want to take a more proactive approach alongside Indonesia to help address the development needs of West Papuans.

The leaders have just concluded their summit in Port Moresby where issues regarding the indigenous Melanesians of Indonesia’s Papua region featured prominently on the agenda.

According to the summit’s communiqué, the MSG seeks greater awareness on the situation in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces in regard to special autonomy arrangements and their impact on the local population.

Elsewhere the leaders note the progress on greater autonomy in Papua and a recent announcement by the President of Indonesia to withdraw the military from Papua region.

However the MSG appears to have brushed off a formal application bid by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation for membership in the MSG.

The coalition lodged its application over a year ago, and submitted documents of support from over seventy representative groups in Indonesia’s Papua region.

Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation
Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation Photo: RNZI

The MSG had postponed its decision on the application pending the report from January’s MSG Foreign Ministers fact-finding mission to Papua.

Vanuatu boycotted that trip because it was of the view that the mission’s programme would not allow the MSG to obtain credible information to fulfil the MSG Leaders mandate, around making a decision on the membership bid.

The mission visited Papua region for less than a day.

The MSG leaders who attended this week’s summit were Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, his Vanuatu counterpart Joe Natuman, PNG’s Peter O’Neill and the current MSG chair, Victor Tutugoro, representing the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

While the communique didn’t include a formal decision on the Coalition’s membership bid, Mr O’Neill, earlier indicated that West Papuans would need to re-apply for membership as an “inclusive and united” group.

Mr O’Neill says the group would also have to consult with Jakarta.

Indonesia has observer status at the MSG.

Among other points of the communiqué, the MSG endorses more regular meetings with Jakarta on bilateral cooperation with specific focus on social and economic development and empowerment for West Papuans.


The Methodist Church in Fiji wore special ribbons as a sign of their solidarity for West Papua yesterday.

The church’s Secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission Reverend James Bhagwan said the red and black ribbons were distributed by the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Pacific Network for Globalisation.

“The Methodist Church in Fiji is a committed member of both the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Fiji Council of Churches. As such we support the call to end human rights abuses in Tanah Papua, for their social, economic and political empowerment and for self-determination,”

Reverend Bhagwan said.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters and children of Tanah Papua. We have received their cry and we will echo it and speak this truth to power.”

Reverend Bhagwan said they were ready to work and bring an end to their sufferings.

“We affirm the work of the Pacific Conference of Churches on the West Papua issue,” he said.

“We look forward to working in partnership with them to enable self-determination in its fullest sense.”


The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, is in Indonesia to lead the official visit of the MSG Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

The visit was mandated by the MSG Leaders at its Summit which was held in Noumea in June last year.
The delegation will meet  Susilo Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indononesia, and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marty Natalegawa.

The FMM delegation will be in West Papua for two days during the visit to meet with local Government officials and other relevant stakeholders.

“We are happy to undertake this important visit at the invitation of the Indonesian Government to be able to assess the application by WPNCL to become a member of the MSG to enable us to present a recommendation to our Leaders,” Ratu Inoke said.

“We fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we further recognise that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.

“The visit will provide the opportunity to learn firsthand about the situation in West Papua and understand the aspirations of our fellow Melanesian brothers and sisters in Papua with regards to their representation by WPNCL to become a member of the MSG.”

It is envisaged that the visit will also deepen the economic ties and development co-operation between Indonesia and MSG countries.

Indonesia is an observer of the MSG.

The other members of the delegation include Rimbink Pato and Soalaoi Forau, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands respectively, Joe Natuman, Vanuatu’s Special Envoy and Yvon Faua, Representative of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).