Medical institute studies mosquitos for transmission of malaria, elephantiasis
Medical institute studies mosquitos for transmission of malaria, elephantiasis
Medical institute studies mosquitos for transmission of malaria, elephantiasis

BEING locked in a room filled with mosquitos sounds worrying but laboratory technicians from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) looked forward to it.

Situated inside an isolated room in Yagaum outside Madang where the PNGIMR base has piles of containers with different species of mosquitos collected by the institute’s field officers.

Laboratory technician Hega Sakel is a specialist who does the worrying job of separating females from male mosquitos.

It’s a difficult task for anyone to identify the sex of the mosquitos but for Sakel it’s a flick of a finger because she knows what she is doing.
Male mosquitos have moustache and females do not.

Sakel collects the female mosquitos which are then fed with parasite-infected blood samples. Those mosquitoes were fed with different blood samples to see if parasites in them developed inside the mosquitos.

Senior scientific officer Rebecca Vinit said the mosquitoes would then be dissected and blood samples recorded and used for further studies.

The study on mosquitos were for transmission of malaria or filariasis parasites.

Filariasis is also known as elephantiasis which cause swollen limbs.

Vinit said Anopheles mosquitos transmitted malaria and filariasis.

She said different environments had different species of Anopheles mosquitos.

Places along river banks like in East Sepik and Ramu in Madang had many mosquitos and among them they had their own species of Anopheles mosquitos.

Source: http://www.thenational.com.pg/

Gembolg landslide leaves 20 families without gardens
Gembolg landslide
Gembolg landslide

THE current wet season experienced in some parts of the country continue to cause disasters and heart aches for some.

Take for example the Womkama community ward 16 and 17 of the Mt Wilhelm LLG area of Gembogl district in Chimbu.

According to local Tobby Sundu, 20 families lost their heavily cropped gardens of bulb onions, broccoli, kaukau, sugar cane and taro to landslides.

Sundu said the landslides had not stopped there but also made the way to block off many sections of the Kundiawa-Gembogl road from Kombrume Bridge to Bendam which made it impassable for vehicles.

He said the disasters were reported to the Kundiawa/Gembogl district authorities and they were on site to assess the situation.

The weather office is keeping a close watch over the current weather patterns and will warn the public as there is a 30 to 40 per cent chance of a tropical cyclone hitting the country.

“People should always be mindful of the weather and heed warnings during this wet and tropical weather conditions,” acting director of the National Weather Service Jimmy Gomoga said.

Gomoga warned the people to exercise more care during the rainy weather.

He said the weak La-Nina weather conditions were prevailing, resulting in the wetter than usual conditions. The country should be braced for more rainfall, mostly in the Southern region because of the wet and weather conditions.

“Port Moresby drivers be careful on the road during this rainy season,” Gomoga said.

“Areas of concern during the season are the Highlands, Mamose and Southern region – a lot of rain is expected to create high chances of landslides in the Highlands and possible strong winds and rough seas along the coast.”

Source: http://www.thenational.com.pg/

Sogavare says Opposition lacks understanding on bills settlement
Sogavare says Opposition lacks understanding on bills settlement Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Manasseh Sogavare
Sogavare says Opposition lacks understanding on bills settlement
Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Manasseh Sogavare

THE Minister of Finance and Treasury, and Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the Leader of Opposition or whoever advised the Leader on the Government’s approach to settle the $204 million on outstanding bills grossly lacks understanding on the whole issue.

Mr Sogavare said if the Leader of Opposition as claimed in the Solomon Star issue on Friday 8 December 2017, wished to be provided the outline of $204 million outstanding claims and invoices in the system, he should formally write to the Finance Minister to obtain accurate answers rather than spilling out ill-conceived statements in the media.

In responding to the Leader of Opposition, Mr Sogavare said, “that the published article is unclear to ascertain whether it is from the Leader of the Official Opposition, or from a Journalist scavenging for information.

“Irrespective of who sought the information, what we can confirm at this level is that both the Constituency Development Fund; and the National Transport Initiative Programme payments made up the large proportion of the outstanding invoices,” Mr Sogavare stated.

He added, “the Government is committed to clear some of these payments, grants, contracts and essential payments including utility bills, rentals, and other fixed costs.

“The Government has taken full responsibility of the current cash flow situation since assuming power and is committed to ensure that fiscal situation is brought under control in 2018.”

In relation to the final settlement of the outstanding agreement with LSL for the acquisition of Hells Point and Bloody Ridge land parcels and transfer of 20% shares in RIPEL to the SIG, Mr Sogavare assures the Opposition Leader and public in general, that any transaction will be transparently executed in accordance with mandatory requirements and to suggest otherwise indicates a lack of understanding about management of public finances.

Source: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

NZ parliamentary committee gets West Papua briefing

A New Zealand parliament select committee has heard there is currently no pathway for West Papua to be put on the UN decolonisation list.

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials at a parliamentary select committee briefing on West Papua, 7 December 2017 : Michael Appleton, Unit Manager, Pacific Regional Division; Stephen Harris, Divisional Manager, South East Asia Division; Ben King, Acting Chief Executive/Deputy Secretary Americas and Asia Group; Phillip Taula, Divisional Manager, United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials at a parliamentary select committee briefing on West Papua, 7 December 2017 : Michael Appleton, Unit Manager, Pacific Regional Division; Stephen Harris, Divisional Manager, South East Asia Division; Ben King, Acting Chief Executive/Deputy Secretary Americas and Asia Group; Phillip Taula, Divisional Manager, United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee was today briefed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about West Papua, following an earlier hearing in June.

A committee member, government MP Louisa Wall, asked about a recent petition to the UN from the indigenous people of Indonesian-ruled Papua region seeking re-inscription with the Decolonisation Committee, or C24. West Papua had been on the list in the early 1960s before being removed when Indonesia took control of the territory.

Ministry officials said that for West Papua to be added to the list again there first needed to be a resolution in the UN general assembly.

“The problem at the moment is there’s actually no pathway back for it to go to the C24 if it’s blocked by the C24 – Indonesia (which is a member of the C24) would need to agree,” said Stephen Harris, the Divisional Director of South and South East Asia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

But Ms Wall said West Papua was a “growing and emerging issue in the Pacific”, suggesting it would increasingly demand a concerted response by New Zealand.

Louisa Wall Photo: VNP / Phil Smith
Louisa Wall Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

“How interested are we in the Pacific Island interest in the emancipation of Papua? Because it’s not going to go away. I can see resolutions in the Pacific islands Forum soon that want us as a block of sixteen countries to be doing something possibly putting an application so they can be added to this non-self governing territory list.”

However, Mr Harris said sentiment on this issue amongst Pacific Island countries was “quite varied”.

“There is not a block of sixteen Pacific Island countries who think the same on this.”

He said that reports about Indonesia’s official reaction to some of the expressions of political voice in Papua were “disturbing”.

According to Mr Harris, New Zealand tended to register its concern about human rights abuses at the ministerial level.

“Since June there has been an upwelling of public unrest that I mentioned with the armed insurrection in a couple of villages in Papua. At the same time there’s been redoubling, I think, by the Inodnesian president Joko Widodo to try and invest more of his personal political capital in to progress there.”

Mr Harris said that human and social indicators showed that Papuans generally lagged behind people in other parts of Indonesia by a long way.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz

Indonesian minister wants Papua activists arrested

Indonesia’s Minister of Defence has called for members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to be arrested when they return to the country.

The pro-independence organisation has just concluded a summit in Vanuatu, where the UK-based activist Benny Wenda was elected its new chairman.

Vanuatu’s government also donated a building in Port Vila to the Movement for its use as a Pacific regional headquarters.

Ryamizard Ryacudu Photo: AFP
Ryamizard Ryacudu Photo: AFP

While the Movement has observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Indonesia’s government is opposed to it representing Papuans internationally, as well as its pro-independence activities.

A number of the Movement’s executive members live in exile, but some of those who had travelled to Vila for last week’s summit face possible arrest when they return to the Indonesian-ruled Papua region.

According to Indonesian media, the Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that those involved in the summit should be arrested on their return.

He also expressed disappointment at the involvement of diplomats from Melanesian countries who actively support the Liberation Movement.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/

UN urged to resolve Papuan self-determination

From Dateline Pacific, 6:04 am on 5 October 2017 

Melinda Janki Photo: Supplied/ Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Guyana
Melinda Janki Photo: Supplied/ Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Guyana

An international law specialist says the United Nations should resolve the unfinished business of West Papuan self-determination

Melinda Janki has analysed the adherence to international law in the transferral of sovereignty over Papua from the Dutch to Indonesia in the 1960’s.

She says that under this process, Indonesia was obliged to grant an act of self-determination.

But Ms Janki argues that 1969’s so-called Act of Free Choice didn’t meet international standards of self determination.

Indonesia has strong support among other countries for its claim to Papua, and insists the 1969 referendum finalised its territorial claim to Papua.

But Ms Janki told Johnny Blades that the process around the referendum clearly lacked legitimacy.

TRANSCRIPT

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz

MELINDA JANKI: If you look at the legal obligations that the Netherlands had under the United Nations charter, they were to bring West Papua as a non-self-governing territory up to the stage where it could exercise freely a right to self-determination. The Netherlands didn’t do that. What they did instead was to enter into the New York Agreement, which was really a treaty between the Netherlands and Indonesia where they agreed that the Netherlands would hand over administration to the United Nations temporary executive authority, and they could then hand over administration to Indonesia. And Indonesia agreed in the treaty that they would hold an act of self-determination. And if you do that, when you hold an act of self-determination, you must make sure that it is completely free, and that the people have a range of choices. What actually happened is that the Indonesian government rounded up about 1022 people, forced them to declare that they wanted to remain with Indonesia, and then went to the United Nations and said ‘we’ve held an act of self-determination, that’s all we need to do’. Clearly that was not all they needed to do. It’s a complete breach of international law, and it’s complete and fundamental violation of the West Papuan right to self-determination.

JOHNNY BLADES: But that was sanctioned by the United Nations wasn’t it?

MJ: No, it was not sanctioned by the United Nations. And I think that this is one of the problems. No one has gone back and read the resolution. Actually what happened is the United Nations secretary-general decided that he would put before the UN the report of his own representative, and he would put before the UN the Indonesian report. And then the resolution, all it said was – this is resolution 2504 which is what the Indonesians rely on – all that resolution says is that the United Nations General Assembly takes note of the report of the secretary-general and acknowledges with appreciation the fulfilment by the secretary-general and his representative of the tasks entrusted to them under the agreement of the 15th of August 1962 between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea. So they were taking note of a report that says the secretary-general has carried out his duties. And the duties of the secretary-general were to advise, assist and participate in the arrangements for the Act of Free Choice. Well, Indonesia paid no attention to the advice, the secretary-general’s representative did very little in the way of assisting and even less in the way of participating. So all the General Assembly said is we take note of this report. There is nowhere anywhere in the United Nations General Assembly a resolution which says the General Assembly approves the integration of West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia.

JB: So where does that leave the legality of 1969’s Act of Free Choice and of the process that preceded it, that preparation period, the interim administration that was facilitated or at least sanctioned by the UN in terms of… they agreed there would be that period leading up to a referendum.

MJ: So there was a treaty obligation on Indonesia to hold an act of self-determination within seven years, and that’s why they did it over a period of July and August, culminating with bringing these people in and forcing them to declare that they wanted to remain with Indonesia. But let’s just think for a moment what an act of self-determination is. Number one, it’s based on universal adult suffrage. That clearly didn’t happen in this case.  So it’s automatically in breach of the UN resolution which sets out the process by which you have an act of self-determination. Number two, people have to be allowed to vote. No Papuan has ever voted for integration, there has never been an an act of self-determination in West Papua in which people have been allowed to vote. All that has happened is that this tiny group of people were coerced into declaring that they wanted to remain with Indonesia. The third thing is that you must have range of choices. These include independence, association with another state, or integration. Those choices were not offered to the Papuans. They were simply asked whether they would declare to remain with Indonesia. And Indonesian authorities were telling each assembly what the previous assemblies had done. There were eight assemblies, and then they had to declare. The debate took place in front of some high ranking Indonesian officials including the Minister of Home Affairs, the person heading up the West Papuan provincial government, a Brigadier-General and the chief of the information service. There is no way that you could say that was a free atmosphere in which to make a decision. And these officials weren’t just observing. It was bad enough that they were there. But they were also telling the people what the right decision would be. So the Governor told each assembly that they had already expressed their desire not to be separated from Indonesia, and therefore the assemblies had to declare that they wanted to remain with Indonesia. So there was no free vote. And this is set out in the UN report, and it’s set out in the Indonesian report.

JB: How can this be resolved? Is it a matter for the UN?

MJ: I think it definitely has to be a matter for the United Nations because they were complicit in this. And I can tell you that when the vote came up in 1969, there were several countries who didn’t agree with it. So it’s really unfinished business. And the UN really does need to ensure that there is a free act of self-determination. If the Papuans have never exercised their right of self-determination then all they’ve done is swapped one colonial authority for another colonial authority. Therefore they still have a right of self-determination. West Papuans really do understand that they have a right to self-determination, and that they intend to keep on demanding that they are given the same right that everyone else has had. So the only question now is not whether they exercise their right to self-determination, but when will it happen. How long is it going to take now for a genuine act of self-determination? How long is it going to take for the United Nations to ensure compliance with international law?

Fiji President calls for reverence for God

Left to right: Assistant Head Elder Branan Karae, Pastor Bob Larsen, Fiji President Jioji Konusi Konrote and Head Elder Rexley shem pose outside Potoroki Church, By Len Garae
Left to right: Assistant Head Elder Branan Karae, Pastor Bob Larsen, Fiji President Jioji Konusi Konrote and Head Elder Rexley shem pose outside Potoroki Church, By Len Garae

In an exclusive interview with the first Adventist President of Fiji, Major General Jioji Konusi Konrote has called on all church members to remain faithful to God and show reverence for God in all that they do.

A former career soldier from Rotuma Island in Northern Fiji, he had served in war-torn countries including the Middle East and placed his safety in his faith in God.

While his country is making waves globally on climate change as Chair of COP23, the President who was accompanied by the First Lady, Sarote Faga Konrote, arrived in Port Vila on a low key mission as Chancellor of USP, to attend the graduation ceremony at Emalus Campus on December 1.

He and his entourage which included Fiji High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, Esala Teleni, worshipped at Potoroki Church last Sabbath (Saturday).

Prior to becoming Head of State, he held the Portfolio of Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations and served as Fiji High Commissioner to Canberra from 2001-2006

He also served as Commanding Officer of Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East in Lebanon and Sinai.

He was elected Fiji’s 5th President on October 12, 2015 and the first President to be elected by Parliament under the 2013 Constitution.

He was also the first non-ni Taukei (a Rotuman) to be elected President. He first came to Vanuatu to attend late President Baldwin Lonsdale’s funeral last June.

Asked to touch on global leaders he has held talks with in recent times, the President said he has met with numerous world dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth now over 90 years old. He spoke well of the Queen saying she was in good health. His ten-minute appointment with her extended to a 45 minutes audience!

He also had an audience with the Pope who controls approximately one billion Catholics. A key point he dwelled on with the Pope is addressing climate change as Fiji holds the COP23 Chair and wants to protect the interests especially of small island countries in the Pacific, and also to advance the global cause so it will be helpful when handing over the COP Chairmanship to Poland. He met with numerous non-Christian leaders, Muslims and even atheists where he advocated unity and peace.

After meeting the Queen in London, European leaders in Brussels asked why he was going to Iraq and Syria as they are trouble spots. He replied that he is a former soldier himself, and now as the President of Fiji, he has faith in God’s protection to visit Fijian Peacekeepers in these countries.

The President said as much as he would have loved to stay for the Games in Port Vila, his other commitments at home would not allow him to extend his stay. He returned to Fiji yesterday.

Source: Daily Post

Flags flying at West Papua Home, By Len Garae
Flags flying at West Papua Home, By Len Garae

The West Papua Home in Port Vila, a gift from the people of Vanuatu is shared in the unique Melanesian way by United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) and Further Arts, a ni-Vanuatu charitable organisation which has devoted years towards the West Papua struggle.

The photograph of the Crow’s Nest we carried on the front page last Friday was not the building that was handed over to ULMWP and Further Arts. The picture was taken based on the Government invitation which said the venue of the ceremony was Crow’s Nest.

In fact the West Papua Home is the newly repaired premises on the opposite outcrop overlooking Anabrou.

The title of the land and key to the premises were handed over to the new owners last Friday following a parade from Fatumaru Bay to the venue.

We apologize for the confusion to the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, ULMWP, Further Arts, Minister of Lands, Prime Minister, Chairman of Vanuatu Free West Papua Association and anyone who has been misled by the picture.

Source: http://dailypost.vu/

Wenda elected as new head of West Papuan liberation movement

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has elected the exiled independence leader Benny Wenda as its new leader.

Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins
Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Mr Wenda effectively replaces Octo Mote who was the general-secretary of the Movement, which is West Papuans’ premier organisation for advancing independence from Indonesia.

For the past week, the Movement’s executive has been in Vanuatu’s capital for its first major summit since forming there three years ago.

During the summit, the Movement introduced new by-laws and a change in structure to a chairmanship in the organisation.

According to a member of the Liberation Movement executive, Andy Ayamisebathe chairmanship is to be rotated.

This is a co-ordinative body so we don’t want to encourage particular groups or individuals to dominate the Movement,” Mr Ayamiseba explained.

“So we from the council committee, which is the supreme authority of the ULMWP, have elected Mr Benny Wenda to take over the leadership.”

(from left:) United Liberation Movement for West Papua chairman Benny Wenda, Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai and deputy prime minister Joe Natuman, as well as ULMWP deputy chairman Octo Mote at the Movement's summit in Port Vila, 1 December 2017. Photo: Australia West Papua Association
(from left:) United Liberation Movement for West Papua chairman Benny Wenda, Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai and deputy prime minister Joe Natuman, as well as ULMWP deputy chairman Octo Mote at the Movement’s summit in Port Vila, 1 December 2017. Photo: Australia West Papua Association

During the summit, Vanuatu’s government also donated a building in Port Vila which will be the Liberation Movement’s Pacific headquarters.

According to Mr Ayamiseba, the office building would serve as the Liberation’s home base from where its international diplomacy lobbying efforts will be co-ordinated.

“It demonstrated the commitment of the Vanuatu government, as a member of the UN, to our case,” he said.

Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai, and his deputy Joe Natuman, officially handed over the title to the land and the key to the on Friday, which was an important anniversary in the Papuan independence struggle.

The first of December is the anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence when the Morning Star flag was first raised.

It’s 56 years since the Papua nationalist flag was first officially flown in the former Dutch New Guinea, shortly before Indonesia took control of the territory.

The flag was subsequently banned after Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in 1962.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz

West Papua flag day: Why people around the world are raising the colours of a country that doesn’t exist

In West Papua, simply raising the Morning Star flag – a symbol of the island’s fight for independence from Indonesia – can result in 15 years of imprisonment.

But more than 12,000 kilometres away in the UK, the forbidden flag was raised this morning outside Oxford’s town hall for the tenth year in a row.

Oxford is one of more than 250 locations across 50 countries worldwide expected to raise the Morning Star flag today in a show of solidarity with tens of thousands of West Papuans calling for international intervention in the fight for independence from Indonesia.

“In West Papua, the whole essence of our humanity is being reduced to nothing. We are treated like animals and endure what some have described as an ‘apartheid-like’ military occupation,” exiled Free West Papua campaign leader Benny Wenda, who was granted political asylum in the UK in the early 2000s, and lives in Oxford, told The Independent. 

“Tens of thousands of us have been forced to flee as refugees and those that stay live under constant terror. Almost every day, people are arrested without reason, tortured and killed at the hands of the Indonesian government.”

An undated document published on the UNHCR website states that Papua New Guinea alone has taken in as many as 10,000 refugees from West Papua since 1985.

The West Papua Morning Star flag has been raised outside Oxford town hall this morning in support of the Free West Papua campaign
The West Papua Morning Star flag has been raised outside Oxford town hall this morning in support of the Free West Papua campaign

The West Papua Morning Star flag has been raised outside Oxford town hall this morning in support of the Free West Papua campaign

Today’s flag-raising protests come two months after a petition that gained over 1.8 million signatures – more than 70 per cent of West Papua’s population – was presented to the United Nations, calling on the organisation to investigate human rights abuses on the island.

It also demanded that the UN’s Decolonisation Committee (C-24) put West Papua back on its agenda to “ensure their right to self-determination … is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote”.

“Carrying out [the petition] took months of dedicated hard work and commitment after years of planning,” Mr Wenda said.

“It was also incredibly dangerous because the Indonesian government immediately banned the petition and stated that anyone who signed it would be arrested.”

The Free West Papua campaign claims that 57 people were arrested by the Indonesian military for supporting the appeal.

The petition was rejected by the C-24 however, with its chair, Rafael Ramírez, telling The Guardian no petition regarding West Papua could be accepted due to the committee’s mandate being extended exclusively to the 17 states identified by the UN as “non-self-governing territories”.

“West Papua is not a matter for the C-24,” Mr Ramírez said. “We are just working on the countries that are part of the list of non-self-governing territories. That list is issued by the general assembly.”

“One of the principles of our movement is to defend the sovereignty and the full integrity of the territory of our members. We are not going to do anything against Indonesia as a C-24.”

The C-24 did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said it could not comment on decisions made by other UN bodies.

Free West Papua independence leader Benny Wenda (centre) was granted political asylum from the UK in the early 2000s 
Free West Papua independence leader Benny Wenda (centre) was granted political asylum from the UK in the early 2000s

West Papuans have been calling on the United Nations to intervene in what has been called a “slow-moving genocide” for decades, as the Indonesian military continues to occupy the Asian island.

The province was once on the committee’s agenda, when it was a Dutch colony known as Netherlands New Guinea, but it was taken off the list in 1963 when the territory was annexed by Indonesia.

In 1969, an Act of Free Choice referendum meant to decide whether West Papua would join Indonesia or become independent was supervised by the UN.

However, researchers at Australia’s Griffith University have notedthat less than 1 per cent of the West Papuan population was selected by the Indonesian government to represent the entire territory and that those representatives were “coerced to vote for the official integration of West Papua into Indonesia”.

They estimate that in the last 50 years, more than 500,000 people have been killed in West Papua as a result of the Indonesian government’s occupation, calling the situation in Indonesia a “slow-moving genocide”.

Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have also put the death toll at 500,000.

“No one knows if they are going to be the next person killed, but every West Papuan person can tell you about family members who have been,” Mr Wenda said.

“As a child, I remember the Indonesian military bombing my village and in front of my eyes they raped my aunties and beat up my mother just because she didn’t have an ID card.”

An Indonesian activist kneels before West Papuan pro-independence demonstrators in a symbolic gesture seeking forgiveness for their country’s occupation during a protest in Jakarta in April (Getty)
An Indonesian activist kneels before West Papuan pro-independence demonstrators in a symbolic gesture seeking forgiveness for their country’s occupation during a protest in Jakarta in April (Getty)

“The Indonesian government has been able to keep this very quiet and so West Papua has been one of the forgotten stories in the world,” human rights lawyer Melinda Janki said.

Ms Janki says she learned of West Papua’s plight after she was approached by Mr Wenda a decade ago for legal advice.

“This violation of the people’s rights to self-determination seems to have been completely forgotten.

“It all sort of culminated in 1969 in what the Indonesians have called the ‘Act of Free Choice’, but which was really an exercise in which they brought 1,022 people together and basically forced them at gunpoint to say that they wanted to remain as Indonesian, so there really are not grounds for saying that this was a genuine act of self-determination.

“That was in 1969 and nearly 50 years later this issue continues to be buried,” Ms Janki continued. “I think it’s been an enormous failure on the part of the United Nations and I think the General Assembly spectacularly failed to take into account the rights of the West Papuans.”

The UK’s parliamentary group on West Papua has called Indonesia’s presence in West Papua an “illegal occupation” based on a “sham referendum”.

“Put simply, it’s an illegal occupation. Promised its original independence from the Dutch in 1962, West Papua’s incorporation into Indonesia followed in 1969 after what was widely acknowledged to be a sham referendum, engineered by the economic interest of the Indonesia government,” Labour MP Alex Sobel told The Independent.

“The colonised territory is rich in gold, copper, natural gas, forests and fisheries from which the indigenous population see very little, to no benefit.”

He continued: “The UN will not be able to avoid this issue forever and as [the Free West Papua campaign’s] petition proves, the West Papuan people refuse to be silenced,” adding: “Quite simply, it’s an unacceptable part of the UN’s history that must now be put right.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is presented with the petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans by Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is presented with the petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans by Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda

Melanesian leaders have also accused the United Nations of turning a “deaf ear” to human rights abuses in West Papua.

The Prime Ministers of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu called on the UN’s Human Rights Council to launch a formal investigation into human rights abuses in the province at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai told the assembly: “For half a century now the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence and arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua, perpetrated by Indonesia, but the international community has turned a deaf ear to the appeals for help. We urge the Human Rights Council to investigate these cases.”

“We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination and to jointly with Indonesia put an end to all kinds of violence and find common ground with the nationals to facilitate putting together a process which will enable them to freely express their choice.”

A spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy in the UK told The Independent:  “We categorically reject allegations concerning the ‘slow moving genocide’ or any other jargon to exaggerate the human rights situation in Papua.

“In fact, promotion and protection of human rights have been one of the most important elements in Indonesia since we became a democracy in 1998. The government is working together with our national human rights institution, or the National Commission on Human Rights, and has established working groups to resolve past human rights issues in Papua and West Papua Provinces.

“While we continue to resolve those issues, one should not forget that human rights also include right to education, right to health, as well as right to adequate standards of living. President Jokowi [Joko Widodo] is putting efforts to make sure the people of Papua now gain access to much needed education and healthcare services.” The spokesperson added that Indonesia has seen a general hike in economic growth from 3.6 per cent in 2014 to 9.2 per cent in 2016 in Papua and West Papua.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk