The chiefs from Pentecost wants the government to compensate them for Lonorore Airport before they could offer land to volcano affected families from their neighbor island, Ambae.

Chiefs from all over Ambae were on Pentecost and Maewo recently to negotiate land for their people affected by volcanic ash.

They were acting on a resolution passed by the Council of Ministers (COM) for the government to secure a permanent place for the victims before end of May this year.

he Penama Provincial Government Council (PPGC) is leading the negotiation process.

The Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Climate Change and Natural Disaster, Jesse Benjamin, who accompanied the chiefs from Ambae with government and provincial officials on their mission said they were well received by the chiefs on Maewo.

On Pentecost, they performed custom to chiefs in central and south.

Through the custom ceremonies on each island, the chiefs from Ambae have indicated to their colleague chiefs they need help to rescue them and their people away from the threatening volcano.

The chiefs on Pentecost were not clear as to whether they will provide land to support evacuation plans, said DG Benjamin.

“They said they need to reconsider their decision.

“They want the government to settle the compensation for Lonorore Airport before they can offer land to the volcano victims”

Lonorore Airport is located in southwest Pentecost.

Source: The Vanuatu Daily Post, By Anita Roberts

President of Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs (MCC), Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe presided over a very significant reconciliation ceremony last week at the Sanma Chiefs’ Nakamal.

During his opening speech Chief Tirsupe stated, “Reconciliation originates from God who has then given it to custom and Chiefs to be caretakers of this valuable practice.”

Chief Tirsupe explained further, “God designed reconciliation to ensure that peace and security can be restored to our communities when certain behaviours break the peaceful functioning of our societies.”

“The Vanuatu Constitution specifically charges us as chiefs with the responsibility of upholding the cultural values of our nation. Reconciliation is one of those important values that we must never forget,” Chief Tirsupe added.

“Another cultural value we are honouring today is respect. So, I am here today on behalf of the government and the people of Ambae, to say sorry for the words and actions that have caused this conflict between our people and to ask you all for your forgiveness.”

In his support of Chief Tirsupe’s speech, Alicta Vuti added, “This ceremony is not only important for our Ambae and Santo communities but it will serve as a model for other ni-Vanuatu communities that face similar situations in the future, so that they will know the correct protocol to follow for resolving differences between us.”

The significance given to this reconciliation ceremony was evident in the caliber of people that accepted the invitation be part of the ceremony.

Representatives from the Government side included, Minister of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and Member of Parliament for Santo Gaetan Pikioune, MP for Ambae Mr Alickson Vira, DG for the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) Mrs Cherol Ala, Sanma Province President Mr. Thomas Vora, Luganville Municipal Council Lord Mayor Mr. Onen Gaviga, Acting SG and Planner for Sanma Province Prosper Buletari (MC and organiser of the ceremony) and Councillors for Sanma, Penama and Luganville Councils.

On the side of Vanuatu Custom, in addition to the President of the MCC Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe, and CEO for MCC Jean Pierre Tom the facilitator for the ceremony, there were other high-ranking chiefs and orators present.

Those from Santo included; the President for Tabwemasana Council of Chiefs (TCC), Chief Levus Tamata; Chairman of Luganville Town Council of Chiefs, Tamata Tahe; Secretary of TCC, James Surai and; Chiefs from various areas of Sanma Province – Sam Kalo (Big Bay), Ajuju Sokovatu (South Santo), Jara Mele (South Santo), Gideon Rokrok and Kevin Kuvu from East Santo.

The delegation of Chiefs representing Ambae included: President of Ambae Port Vila Chiefs, Paramount Chief John Tarilamalama; Ambae High Chief in Luganville, Chief Andrew Ngwera; Chairman of Ambae Chiefs in Santo, David Vatu; a representative for Ambae Chiefs on the MCC, Alicta Vuti; members of the Executive of the Ambae Chiefs of Port Vila, Vusle Joseph and Henry Vira and; Chairman of the ceremony for the Ambae Chiefs, Matthew Vira.

During the ceremony, various chiefs and Government representatives expressed a secondary, but equally important, purpose for the reconciliation ceremony.

Chief Tarilamalama said during his speech, “I look forward now to dialogue resuming after today, so that the government can carry out its plans for a long-term solution for my people of Ambae being displaced by this disaster.”

When Minister of MFEM, Gaetan Pikioune, spoke on behalf of the Government, he stated, “Now that this custom ceremony has been performed it opens the door for people to permanently settlement in Santo or other provinces in Vanuatu until the situation in Ambae returns to normal. But we will need the cooperation of all Government Institutions, Chiefs, NGOs and NDMO to identify suitable areas for people to relocate.”

Mrs Cherol Ala, DG for MOIA also explained, “This reconciliation process was necessary so there could be further dialogue between people from Ambae and people from Sanma Province. Assistance from the Government will then be available for the short, medium and long-term relocation of people from Ambae.”

It was interesting to note that least 3 of the Chiefs that spoke expressed their concern about the disrespectful way that people aired their disapproval on social media instead of bringing grievances on both sides, to the correct cultural forum for resolution.

As a first-time observer of this reconciliation ceremony, the writer of this article, was deeply moved by the dignified grace and humility with which orators spoke, especially when they did not personally perform the offending actions.

Those who committed the offensive actions or used social media to aggravate issues, should have witnessed the personal and financial cost to chiefs, government officials and innocent community members caused by their cowardly actions.

Experiencing such a solemn ceremony would then hopefully prompt them in the future to be more responsible and respectful members of society.

Source: http://dailypost.vu/

Ben Bohane: China? No, let’s face the elephant in the Pacific room

BRIEFING: By Ben Bohane in Port Vila

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/

China … China … China …

All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully see past the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years is not China but Indonesia, which through its “look east” policy has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while financing local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in PNG, and Voreqe Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, the Solomons and FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Indonesian influence.

READ MORE: The Vanuatu Daily Post and the photo censored by Facebook
THE BANNED PHOTO and other Ben Bohane images in his The Black Islands photoessay at Pacific Journalism Review.

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations may be turning to China is because they are more worried about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Vanuatu might be pulling some “muscle” into its corner, feeling it can’t rely on Australia because Canberra continues in its supine support of Indonesia whatever they do – even as Jakarta directly undermines Australian and Pacific island interests.

The accumulative “strategic failure” being talked of by Labour’s Richard Marles and others, is not because Australia has failed to check Chinese influence in Melanesia, but a result of Australia’s failure to check Indonesian interference in these nations that were supposed to be “our patch”.

For decades, islanders thought their “big brothers” Australia and America would defend Pacific peoples as they did in WWII. Instead, it appears Australia has outsourced its security of Melanesia to Indonesia, giving them free reign.

‘Melanesian nation’

Despite being a Melanesian nation itself through its own Torres Strait and South Sea Islander communities, strangely Australia has not sought to join the main political grouping of its own neighbourhood, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), which has now been hijacked by Indonesia with help from Fiji in particular; more blow-back from Canberra’s misguided attempts to isolate Fiji after the coup.

It is not lost on the region that while the Turnball government is warning about Chinese influence, senior members of his own party have been taking Chinese coin, from former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer spruiking for Huwei to recent Trade Minister Andrew Robb now working for the same Chinese company that controversially bought Darwin’s port.

Still, as examples like Sri Lanka demonstrate, Australia is right to flag concerns about strategic vulnerability that comes with excessive debt to China.

From a Melanesian perspective, the two biggest security issues they face are climate change and Indonesia’s increasing political interference across the Melanesian archipelago, rooted in its desire to hold onto West Papua.

Despite the mantra from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that Australia remains the “strategic partner of choice” for Vanuatu and the region, the fact is that Canberra is not listening to Melanesia’s own security concerns, but telling them what they should be concerned about, ie China.

This is not going down well and Melanesian nations are forging their own security arrangements with or without Australia, who they see as compromised when it comes to climate change and Indonesia.

In the past few months we have witnessed something of a “pincer movement”. In late December, RAAF jets were suddenly scrambled from Tindal air base near Darwin after a number of nuclear-capable Russian Tu 95 “Bear” bombers flew from Biak in West Papua, flying between Papua and Australia’s north for intelligence gathering purposes.

Russian bombers

It’s the first time Russian bombers have operated like this in the South Pacific and suggests Jakarta wanted to warn Australia and the US forces parked in Darwin that it too could bring some “muscle” into the neighbourhood. That message was likely aimed at China as much as Australia and the US.

Then last week, at the other end of Melanesia we have revelations about a potential Chinese military base in Vanuatu. The first thing to say is that it’s highly unlikely China would have asked for a military base – they are far too subtle to do that.

More likely is that they may be angling for something dressed up as a civilian project but with military applications, like the “space station” speculation floated in the Chinese press last week.

They have already built a lot of dual-use infrastructure in Vanuatu such as the big Santo wharf, so step by step, like their “salami-slicing” strategy in the South China Sea, they will move incrementally without wanting to frighten the horses.

Both of these pincer moves have their origin in West Papua’s situation. In some ways it reflects Paul Dibb’s reworking of Australian defence policy in the late 1980s to get beyond its Euro-centricity. Dibb offered a map with concentric circles emanating out from Darwin. The first circles cover East Timor and West Papua.

There are strategic consequences to Australia’s 50-year policy of not just turning a blind eye to Indonesia’s “slow-motion genocide” in West Papua, but active involvement through its Densus 88 anti-terror unit, which many Papuans accuse of not just targetting Islamic militants, but Papuan nationalists too.

At a time when Canberra is battling jihadis in the Middle East and the Philippines, it appears unconcerned by jihadi activity and Indonesian military collusion right on its doorstep, or a possible Prabowo government elected next year, backed by Islamist groups.

Bloody proxy militias
Those of us who witnessed Indonesia’s bloody use of proxy militias in East Timor have watched the same apparatus move to West Papua, with the same man – General Wiranto – still in charge.

It wasn’t always like this.

There was a time when the Menzies government in Australia supported Dutch plans for West Papuan independence throughout the 1950s and early 1960s until the US twisted arms to accept Indonesian control because of Cold War politics.

There was a time when the Australian Defence Force (ADF) worked with the PNGDF to actively secure its 800km border with Indonesia. Today the border is wide open and sources within PNGDF intelligence continue to complain that the Indonesian military routinely violate PNG sovereignty with their patrols, up to a dozen times per year, sometimes even moving the border marking pegs.

How can Australia be perceived as PNG’s security guarantor when it doesn’t even help them secure their primary border, especially with the growing threat of jihadi infiltration?

Why has the AFP been given priority over the ADF in terms of security across Melanesia? With no more engineering battalions or ADF army advisors present in camp, China has walked right in. The last ADF army adviser to Vanuatu, Major Paul Prickett, left 10 years ago and wasn’t replaced.

Many years ago I spent some time with Dick Hagen, a legendary coffee plantation manager in the Highlands of PNG, who has been there since the 1950s. He told me how in the 1960s and 70s, he and many Australians living in PNG were given basic military training so they could be a first response “militia” should the Indonesians come over the border and invade PNG.

For decades the PNG-Indonesia border was regarded as Australia’s real frontline. It was another potential “Kokoda” which didn’t happen, but Indonesia has found other ways to extend its reach.

Mohammed Hatta, one of the founding fathers of Indonesia, warned his nation against taking West Papua, saying Indonesia might not stop until it got to Fiji. That is now coming to pass. But ironically, it is China that will likely contain Indonesia’s expansion in the region, not Australia.

Some sort of deal?
I have the sense that some sort of deal was struck between Canberra and Jakarta back in the 1970s; that Australia would turn a blind eye to everything west of the border while Indonesia would not interfere in PNG and anything east of the border.

Australia has naively kept its part of the deal while Indonesia clearly has not. As a result, in the social media age when all the Pacific is now aware of climate change and what Indonesia continues to do in West Papua and beyond with tacit Australian support, Australia and the US are losing the moral – and actual – leadership of the region.

China is the result.

But it is worth remembering that Australia does much to support Melanesia in other important areas, has been a generous neighbour and will always be there for the islands in tough times. To the keyboard warriors on social media always blaming Australia for what has happened in West Papua, they would do well to understand the history; that it was US and UN decisions that sealed West Papua’s fate.

Australia and Holland initially supported their independence. Why would Australia again risk war with Indonesia over West Papua when Melanesians themselves have not united to bring the West Papuans fully into their family?

It was the MSG which let the wolf into their house, not Australia. As someone who was there in the first weeks of East Timor’s bloody liberation, amidst the burning buildings and bodies, it was an Australian-led coalition which secured East Timor. I remember wondering where are the Melanesian forces to assist and show solidarity? No PNGDF, no VMF or Fijian forces during the critical phase.

Australia must now find a strategic balance among its “frenemies” Indonesia and China. That begins with deeper engagement with the islands, leadership on climate change and working with Melanesian leaders to address their security concerns as much as Australia’s.

Only by listening and closer co-operation with Melanesian leaders can Australia assist with a robust defence of the Melanesian archipelago from Timor to Fiji and be seen as Melanesia’s “security partner of choice”.

Ben Bohane is a photojournalist and television producer based in Vanuatu who has specialised in reporting war and religion for nearly 30 years across Asia and the Pacific. He has been a frequent contributor to the Pacific Media Centre over the years.

Port Vila, Mass Eviction

the Supreme Court gave an eviction order, and police acted on the order and evicted the people
the Supreme Court gave an eviction order, and police acted on the order and evicted the people

Some 1,000 people were reportedly affected in a police operation that began Thursday to move the people out of the plots of land they were living in.

Vanuatu Police Force Field Commander Jack Tallis, says the Supreme Court gave an eviction order, and police acted on the order and evicted the people.

He says those affected come from almost every islands in the country.

The plots of land in question were sold by Bladinieres Estate (Urban) Ltd to some people who already held titles for the plots and then these scores of plots of land were later on resold by David Abel to some other people who were occupying the plots to today.

The original owners went to court and requested the court to help them get their land back and the court ruled in their favor and gave the squatters three months to leave.

And when they did not move, the police moved in Thursday morning and enforced the warrant for possession of the land.

The police used heavy works machinery to level gardens and remove all fruit trees and other plants and the whole vegetation.

Inspector Tallis says due to the size of the land in question, the operation is expected to take the police several days to complete the enforcement order.

He adds that the eviction exercise is a joint police operation involving 65 personnel from the Traffic, General Duties, Criminal Investigation units and the Vanuatu Mobile Force.

Inspector Tallis expresses his gratitude to many of the people affected who took upon themselves to remove their houses and pack away their belongings included housing materials to be moved away before the police moved in with heavy machinery.

Unfortunately, garden plants such as bananas, leaves for laplap, pandanus plants and fruit trees could not be saved when the bulldozer and grader moved in and destroyed everything. Some of the people chopped down patches of their banana plants before the police arrived.

Field Commander Tallis is appealing to those people in the plots of land still to be evacuated to make arrangements to remove their belongings before the operation for the eviction order reaches them today and in the coming days.

On December 11, 2017 the Supreme Court approved an Eviction Warrant for Possession of Land Order after it was filed on October 13, 2017 following the Civil Case No. 158 of 2013 between Bladinieres Estate (Urban) Ltd, Claimant, and David Abel and Others, First Defendants, and a list of people who paid money to David Abel for the land later on as Second Defendants.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922. Source: http://dailypost.vu

The main program for the upcoming 6th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) is now available online to get a glimpse of what the festival will be like.

The National Organising Committee (NOC) has released the program and is encouraging the public to view the main festival programme online.

The programme with information on participating countries can be viewed on the Official Festival website at http://macfest2018.com/ .

According to the programme, performing arts dominates the event which will engage the bulk of participation and audience interest.

This is the main component of the festival featuring much of the festival highlights and engaging about 80% of participants. Activities under this category range from dance to music and theatre, the organisers said.

Sixty percent of activities under this category will be traditional dances, showcasing the vast cultural diversity in Melanesia.

Thirty percent is in various music forms such as circular, contemporary and ethno music. The remaining ten percent consist of drama performances including creative and modern dance styles.

There will also be an interactive space provided through Jam House where musicians from participating countries can interact and share with one another.

The second category is Traditional and Contemporary Arts which contains the biggest number of activities relating to both traditional and contemporary art respectively.

Eighty percent of what is going to be exhibited is in traditional art form, whilst the remaining twenty percent in contemporary forms.

Traditional and Contemporary Arts range from Sculpturing & Carving, Body Ornaments & Jewelry, Weaving, Pottery, Traditional Currencies, Tattooing, Fire-Walking, Canoeing & Navigational Art, Culinary Arts, Traditional Healing and Traditional Games.

The third category is Visual Arts which include paintings on canvas, graphics, children’s’ art, Architecture, Photography and Fashion.

Much of the visual arts exhibitions will be showcased at the National Arts Gallery in Honiara and the Crafts Market Centre.

Photography will be located at the Solomon Islands National University, whilst the Fashion shows at the Multi-Purpose Hall.

The fourth category is Literary Arts will gather writers, publishers, Poets, story tellers (oratory), historians, theatre and film producers from Melanesia converging together in a week long festivity to exhibit, showcase and share their experiences with one another and their audiences.

Most of the Literary Activities will held at the National Museum Auditorium, whilst Film and Oratory to be held at the Solomon Islands National University, Kukum Campus Lecture Theatre.

The fifth category involves Workshops, Symposiums and Forums. There will be a ‘Melanesian Symposium’ to be held during the festival.

The topic is “New Horizons – Exploring the Economics of Culture and the Potentials of the Creative Industries in Melanesia”.

Other workshops and symposiums to be held during the festival include Ethno-Music Workshop, Culture & Education, Cultural Industries, ICHCAP-Pacific Young ICH Practitioners Meeting.

Chair of the Programmes and Events Sub-Committee, Dennis Marita said the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival has always been a show of strength and pride as a people with humongous wealth of cultural diversity and resources.

“The Festival will just be another extravaganza of cultural diversity at its best which will comprise of several categories and each of these with different genres,” Mr Marita said.

The event will run from July 1- 10 in Honiara and will coincide with the country’s 40th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

The Solomon Star news

Civil society groups in West Papua including local non-governmental organisations, youth groups, students, women associations, church leaders and indigenous leaders are cautious about a surprise visit to West Papua by a Solomon Islands government delegation.

The Solomon Islands government under the leadership of former PM Manasa Sogovare was a staunch supporter for the West Papuan struggle.  However this recently organized visit under secrecy without any notification to West Papuan groups on ground has raised concerns about a possible shift in the Solomon Islands government’s stand in relation to the West Papuan struggle.

It is understood that the Solomon Islands government delegation which included representatives from the Solomon Islands civil society are in West Papua at the invitation of the Indonesia Government. The timing of the invitation to West Papua follows shortly after the Solomon Islands government held consultations for a policy on West Papua where local Solomon Islanders have been vocal about their support to the struggle.

In welcoming the Solomon Islands government delegation to West Papua, student leader, Christ Dogopia apologized, saying, “we are not free to express ourselves in the land of our ancestors, thus we cannot welcome you well and honorably as Melanesian relatives.”

“There was not proper communication and we only just learnt of the visit when the delegation arrived in Jayapura…it is typical of the government of Indonesia to organize such as visit under a cloud of secrecy and unilaterally by through the foreign ministry, but we didn’t expect this from a close member of the Melanesian family.

The local free West Papua coalition has questioned the motives of the Indonesia Government, asking why the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), a member of Melanesian Spearhead Group, was not formally informed of the visit.

“We question the intent and purpose of this visit as it reminds us of a similar visit led by the former Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Lilo in 2014, which was organized secretly by the Indonesian government and military without any involvement or connection to civil society,” questioned Dogopia.

In a statement by the civil society coalition of West Papua, they have expressed support to the ULMWP as the organization who represents their political aspirations and is advocating for West Papuans’ right to self-determination, which has been denied by the Indonesian Government and international community for over 50 years. We insist that the government of Indonesia and other states respect that right.

“We wish to emphasize that since West Papua has been forced into shackles through the 1969 Act of NO Choice, there have been human rights violations, forced seizure of Indigenous lands for large mines and oil palm plantations, transmigration programs and food projects all in the name of development but which have harmed the people of West Papua, by creating conflict, depriving us of our land and ability to manage our own resources, and human rights violations.”

The statement further states that the presence of the Indonesian military and police has disrupted the lives of indigenous West Papuans, causing havoc and gross violence all for the sake of foreign investment and capitalist’ interests.

Dogopia said there are a lot of social and unjust issues faced by the indigenous West Papuan population which the visiting delegation may not be made aware of, “one of which is the flow of population from outside West Papua is increasing and our people are becoming a minority and marginalized.”

The coalition appeals to the visiting Solomon Island Government delegation to independently hear and experience firsthand realities of the Melanesian people in the land of West Papua.

Meanwhile, an attempt to seek answers from the West Papuan Governor in a peaceful demonstration outside the government complex on Tuesday resulted in nine West Papuans arrested.

All nine arrestees were detained and questioned before their release.

By Joey Tau, The SolomonStarNews.com

No Chinese military base in Vanuatu: PM Salwai reiterated to Australia

Vanuatu's prime minister has met his Australian counterpart
Vanuatu’s prime minister has met his Australian counterpart

Vanuatu’s prime minister has met his Australian counterpart and reiterated that his government will not allow China to build a military base on its shores.

Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai.Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai. Photo: RNZ/Koroi Hawkins
Following reports that security officials were worried about China’s intentions in Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai met Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull in London ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Mr Salwai said he has worked in government for 27 years, as an adviser and MP, and the idea of a Chinese military base has never been raised.
He told reporters that he attended a lot of meetings and it was never in any negotiations.
Mr Salwai ruled out any plans for a Chinese base in his country, and said he raised it with Mr Turnbull in their bilateral meeting.
He said he assured Mr Turnbull that Vanuatu was never dreaming of becoming a military base as it was not in their culture or tradition.
Mr Salwai had conceded China was building a wharf in Vanuatu funded by a concessional loan, but he said that is because the loan was cheaper than the one Japan had offered.
Earlier this month Australian media reported that China was looking to establish a base in Vanuautu.
China said reports it wants a military base in Vanuatu are “sheer fiction” from troublemakers.
Vanuatu’s foreign minister Ralph Reganvanu told RNZ Pacific that it had a long history of being opposed to militarisation, and would not host a base and make itself a target for possible attack.

Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of Government, Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen.

 I am honored to join you here today at this Malaria Summit. It is only appropriate that we speak about Malaria at this juncture given its importance to the health of our people. It comes in a critical time when the global community focus is on international peace and security, Malaria is however another form of threat to the health and livelihood of our people and therefore must remain as a priority in our agenda.

 Over the past decade and a half, my government has implemented an ambitious malaria control and elimination program. One that has been carefully designed to also achieve broader health benefits through systems strengthening and extended cooperation program.

 My government has pursued this vast program of elimination of Malaria progressively throughout all the provinces in Vanuatu which include distribution of Long-lasting nets countrywide. Access to diagnosis and treatment has been ensured in all health facilities.

 This work, supported by donor-partners, and by extensive community engagement, has achieved remarkable results.

 -In 2017, malaria elimination was achieved in most provinces, with no local cases since 2014;There have been great progress made in terms of the elimination program with no deaths reported in Vanuatu since 2012.

 By 2028, Vanuatu aims to be completely malaria free.

 Today, I am delighted to be endorsing on behalf on my government the APLMA (‘apple-mah’) Leaders Elimination Roadmap to reaffirm this commitment.

 With external funding declining, the conference today must make a new shared effort to eliminate malaria globally.

 We are committed to accelerating progress. However, for small island states like Vanuatu, we will continue to rely on strong support from partners like the Government of Australia and the Global Fund.  We call for greater united effort and increased cooperation as together we will defeat malaria.

 Thankyou,

Source: https://www.gov.vu/en/

West Papuans cautious about SIG visit but remains hopeful

West Papuans arrested by Indonesian police during the Solomon Islands Government's delegation visit.
West Papuans arrested by Indonesian police during the Solomon Islands Government’s delegation visit.

Civil society groups in West Papua including local non-governmental organisations, youth groups, students, women associations, church leaders and indigenous leaders are cautious about a surprise visit to West Papua by a Solomon Islands government delegation.

The Solomon Islands government under the leadership of former PM Manasa Sogovare was a staunch supporter for the West Papuan struggle.  However this recently organized visit under secrecy without any notification to West Papuan groups on ground has raised concerns about a possible shift in the Solomon Islands government’s stand in relation to the West Papuan struggle.

It is understood that the Solomon Islands government delegation which included representatives from the Solomon Islands civil society are in West Papua at the invitation of the Indonesia Government. The timing of the invitation to West Papua follows shortly after the Solomon Islands government held consultations for a policy on West Papua where local Solomon Islanders have been vocal about their support to the struggle.

In welcoming the Solomon Islands government delegation to West Papua, student leader, Christ Dogopia apologized, saying, “we are not free to express ourselves in the land of our ancestors, thus we cannot welcome you well and honorably as Melanesian relatives.”

“There was not proper communication and we only just learnt of the visit when the delegation arrived in Jayapura…it is typical of the government of Indonesia to organize such as visit under a cloud of secrecy and unilaterally by through the foreign ministry, but we didn’t expect this from a close member of the Melanesian family.

The local free West Papua coalition has questioned the motives of the Indonesia Government, asking why the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), a member of Melanesian Spearhead Group, was not formally informed of the visit.

“We question the intent and purpose of this visit as it reminds us of a similar visit led by the former Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Lilo in 2014, which was organized secretly by the Indonesian government and military without any involvement or connection to civil society,” questioned Dogopia.

In a statement by the civil society coalition of West Papua, they have expressed support to the ULMWP as the organization who represents their political aspirations and is advocating for West Papuans’ right to self-determination, which has been denied by the Indonesian Government and international community for over 50 years. We insist that the government of Indonesia and other states respect that right.

“We wish to emphasize that since West Papua has been forced into shackles through the 1969 Act of NO Choice, there have been human rights violations, forced seizure of Indigenous lands for large mines and oil palm plantations, transmigration programs and food projects all in the name of development but which have harmed the people of West Papua, by creating conflict, depriving us of our land and ability to manage our own resources, and human rights violations.”

The statement further states that the presence of the Indonesian military and police has disrupted the lives of indigenous West Papuans, causing havoc and gross violence all for the sake of foreign investment and capitalist’ interests.

Dogopia said there are a lot of social and unjust issues faced by the indigenous West Papuan population which the visiting delegation may not be made aware of, “one of which is the flow of population from outside West Papua is increasing and our people are becoming a minority and marginalized.”

The coalition appeals to the visiting Solomon Island Government delegation to independently hear and experience firsthand realities of the Melanesian people in the land of West Papua.

Meanwhile, an attempt to seek answers from the West Papuan Governor in a peaceful demonstration outside the government complex on Tuesday resulted in nine West Papuans arrested.

All nine arrestees were detained and questioned before their release.

By Joey Tau, SolomonStarnews

The Government of China has announced its assistance of Vt10million towards the relief and recovery of the people on Ambae, whose homes and gardens have been destroyed by volcanic ash.

The Acting Prime Minister (PM) and Minister of Education and Training (MOET), Jean Pierre Nirua, handed the Vt10 million relief cheque to the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Finance, Letlet August, yesterday afternoon after receiving it from China’s Ambassador to Vanuatu, Liu Quan.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the volcano,” said Ambassador Liu.

“I have been following the situation very closely. I sought help from our government to help the victims in a way which can help alleviate their pain”.

China and Vanuatu shared a fast growing relationship, he said.

“I regarded Vanuatu as my second home,” Ambassador Liu told the Acting PM.

“Your government has done a great job responding to last year’s eruption. It is doing a great work now thus, i believe the people will overcome the challenge.”

Acting PM Nirua thanked China for being the first donor country to offer humanitarian relief in cash, to assist Vanuatu Government‘s efforts in addressing the impacts of the devastating ash fall on Ambae.

He applauded the relationship Vanuatu has with China at the same time, also called onto other donor countries for help.

He assured the government of China, through Ambassador Quan, that the Government of Vanuatu will spend the money on recovery efforts for affected families on Ambae.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MOFEM) is largely in control of any relief aid or public money during a state of emergency.

The MOFEM will authorize any relief expenditure, following requests from the National Disaster Management Office.

Source By Anita Roberts –  http://dailypost.vu/