New Zealand recognizes West Papua as part of Indonesia
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters says his country recognizes West Papua as a part of Indonesia.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters says his country recognizes West Papua as a part of Indonesia.

He made this comment when asked about New Zealand’s stand on the West Papua issue where Vanuatu is spearheading efforts in support of West Papua, during his recent visit to Port Vila.

“If you were the examine the economic and social condition of West Papua per capita as opposed to PNG, even PNG would acknowledge that their (West Papua) performance is higher than PNG’s.

“PNG is the neighbor of West Papua.

“And I think as a Polynesian, or Melanesian or Pacific concept, the first person I’d be consulting on an issue like that is the nearest neighbor to the issue that might be the problem, namely PNG.

“So all I was trying to say is let’s not underestimate the emotional sincereity of the Vanuatu people’s feeling on the issue but never at the same time overlook how deeply concerning this issue is to the nearest neighbor, Papua New Guinea,” Mr Peters said.

He continues that the Indonesian Government should be worked with to look at its programs of improving the lives of its people.

“But what we do not want, surely is to have PNG, that is soon to put on APEC, having all this anxieties of being condemned by its own kin, namely fellow Melanesian countries.

“We are from the most southern part of Polynesia, New Zealand, but we see it that way, in a sense.

“Our job is to try to facilitate at ease a longterm comfort with this issue where the people concern in this issue, people of West Papua, where their conditions are improved.

Mr Peters says New Zealand is dreading very carefully on handling this issue.

The Minister was responding to a question raised by Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM on New Zealand’s stand on West Papua.

Vanuatu is the only country in the world that has been in the forefront of this issue in the past to see fellow Melanesians gain political freedom and the stand has been supported recently by other countries in the Pacific.

 

Source: Daily Post Vanuatu

The Fiji opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says the government has to stop its betrayal of the people of West Papua.

Ro Teimumu Kepa (centre) with staff flying the West Papua flag.
Ro Teimumu Kepa (centre) with staff flying the West Papua flag. Photo: supplied

She is urging the government to strongly support the inclusion of the territory on the United Nations’ decolonisation list.

Ro Teimumu said Vanuatu had taken a courageous decision to seek freedom for the West Papuans through the UN and Fiji and other regional governments should demonstrate solidarity with this cause.

She said she saluted Vanuatu prime minister, Charlot Salwai, for showing real leadership, and for being a true Melanesian brother to the West Papuan people.

Ro Teimumu said a SODELPA-led government would put its weight behind West Papua.

She said Fiji’s leader Frank Bainimarama was an outspoken advocate for Melanesian unity but he is stabbing the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua in the back by refusing to support their quest for independence.

 

Source: Radio New Zealand

Supporters and members of the West Papua Desk in Auckland
Supporters and members of the West Papua Desk in Auckland Photo: supplied

A West Papua support group in New Zealand is calling on Pacific leaders to support Vanautu’s push for the Indonesian region to be included on the UN’s decolonisation list.

West Papua Action Auckland said leaders attending next week’s Pacific Islands Forum summit in Nauru must back Vanuatu’s draft resolution when it is raised by prime minister Charlot Salwai.

The Morning Star flag a symbol of the West Papuan Independence movement. It was first raised on 1 December 1961 prior to the territory coming under administration of the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority.
The Morning Star flag a symbol of the West Papuan Independence movement. Photo: RNZ PAcific/ Koroi Hawkins

It said the denial of the right of self-determination for West Papua in the 1960s set the scene for decades of state-sanctioned violence against the indigenous population.

The activist group said the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969 was a fraudulent exercise carried out under extreme duress.

It said there is evidence West Papuans are experiencing slow genocide due to ongoing human rights abuses and the harmful conditions of life experienced by so many Papuans.

 

Source: Radio New Zealand

If Vanuatu does not speak for West Papua, then who will?: Lini

Vanuatu Daily PostSince her appointment as the Special Envoy on Decolonization of West Papua to the Pacific Island States, Lora Lini spoke exclusively to the Daily Post about how she sees her role and the importance of the position entrusted upon her by the Vanuatu Government.

West Papua Special Envoy, By Jane Joshua
West Papua Special Envoy, By Jane Joshua

But first, she says that it is the present government who recognizes the importance of taking the West Papua issue further and to a higher level via a United Nations Resolution for West Papua.

Ms Lini says past governments and civil society organizations of Vanuatu have maintained the country’s stand for the West Papua since Vanuatu’s independence in 1980. But the issue of West Papua has reached another level and the present government also recognizes the struggle of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and other organizations that support and work together with the Movement for the cause of West Papua self- determination.

“My role as Special Envoy on the Decolonisation of West Papua to the Pacific Island States is to bring to the attention of member states of the Pacific Islands Forum Vanuatu’s intention to table a UN Resolution for the decolonization of West Papua.”

The draft Resolution has now been presented to all Forum members.

Ms Lini is optimistic and says although Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, may have indicated not to support the Resolution on West Papua which Vanuatu intends to push through to the UN Committee of 24 on Decolonization, Vanuatu will continue to lobby for support from all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum including Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.

Ms Lini confirmed that Vanuatu will raise the issue of West Papua and lobby support from the Pacific Leaders at the upcoming Leaders Summit in Nauru in early September 2018.

She said one thing is clear during her previous stint at the Pacific Islands Forum meetings in Samoa is that most members share the sentiments that raw colonialism has no place in Melanesia or in the Pacific. The issue of West Papua is like climate change issues they seem to come in all different forms but the root is still colonialism just in other forms and but Pacific Island States are no longer blind,” says Ms Lini.

“If Vanuatu as a Melanesian country who we share the same ethnicity with our brothers and sisters of West Papua but does not speak for West Papua? Then who will?” She said there is no way around this issue — the only way is to re-present the issue at the United Nations.

“We must not turn a blind eye on West Papua — this issue has been around longer than we have struggled for our own independence and we, like other Melanesians and Pacific Islander are the only people that can truly speak for West Papua not because we have policies or conventions that obliges us to do as Governments but because we know that as Melanesians or Pacific Islanders it is our duty to speak for them and it is the right thing to do because they are unable to do so in such international forums, says Ms Lini.

She said although Vanuatu is seen as a small nation but over 38 years now since Independence Vanuatu has over the years established bilateral relations with many countries and gained many friends small states as well as super powers.

Ms Lini says if it is the will of the Government and the people of Vanuatu and the Almighty God to set free West Papua — then let thy will be done. She is not new to the issue of West Papua. She is a founding member of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association Of Vanuatu.

She has also previously worked at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat in Port Vila and is well versed over the outstanding work for West Papua at the level of Melanesia as a sub-regional Organisation that was founded in the core issues of Decolonisation in the region of Melanesia. She is adamant that MSG is still obliged to the issue of West Papua as agreed by the Leaders meeting and the MSG is a key region that she will visit to rally support.

“This is our own backyard and we must be the first to unite on this issue,” says Ms Lini. She also served at the Communications and Public Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London in the United Kingdom and is a journalist by profession.

NZ Foreign Minister goes to Vanuatu

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is traveling to Vanuatu today to meet senior government members.

Winston Peters
Winston Peters Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Peters is expected to meet with President Moses Tallis, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu and Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat.

Mr Peters said it was his first visit to Melanesia since announcing the ‘Pacific Reset’, New Zealand’s foreign aid hike and refocus in the region.

Just under 4500 ni-Vanuatu are involved in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries.

The New Zealand delegation will leave Vanuatu on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Mr Peters met with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Canberra to discuss strategies for the Pacific.

Chuukese defiant about independence from FSM

Efforts are continuing to have Chuuk leave the Federated States of Mircronesia despite warnings its departure would adversely impact the island group.

The FSM consists of the states of Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae and Chuuk but around 50,000 Chuukese are scheduled to take part in a secession vote next March.

Debate over Chuuk independence has heated up recently with US Ambassador Robert Riley and former FSM president John Haglegam indicating there could be dire consequences if it happened.

Last month, Mr Riley said the Compact agreement, which governed the US relationship with the FSM and provided for significant funding, would be lost by Chuuk if it went out on its own.

“The current Compact of Free Association is with the Federated States of Micronesia and therefore does not cover a separate entity of Chuuk,” he said.

“That is a legal distinction that is non-negotiable.

“There is no bad intent involved here or malevolent intent, it’s just the Compact is with the Federated States of Micronesia.”

Mr Riley ruled out Chuuk receiving its own Compact agreement.

John Haglegam

Former FSM President, John Haglegam Photo: RNZ

“It is not something that we did before the Compact of Free Association, it is not something we will do again.

“It is a product of the very unique circumstances that came out of World War Two and the fact that Micronesia had been a colony for many years of other European countries, and the idea that we were going to work with Micronesia towards independence,” Mr Riley said.

A Compact-less Chuuk would also lose all access to US funding, the ambassador warned.

“Chuuk would not be eligible to get money from the trust fund.

“Without the trust fund there are certain things that I think Chuuk would have difficulty funding such as education and health and this could impact severely the ability of Chuuk to finance their education and health sectors,” Mr Riley said.

John Haglegam now teaches history at the College of Micronesia. He said the Chuuk Independence Movement should heed the advice of the US ambassador.

“The movement was counting on US financial support very heavily. They wanted to have another Compact and now the US has told them the US is not going to give them any Compact. So they are going to lose any benefit, all the benefits that Chuuk receives under the Compact,” Mr Haglegam said.

Chuuk would also lose access to direct emergency assistance, the use of the US Coast Guard and over 50 government components based on Chuuk, Mr Riley said.

“We don’t know what they are going to do but they are less likely to remain if no Compact existed.”

The open door immigration policy would also change, leaving many Chuukese based in the US in limbo, the ambassador said.

This proved secession was unwise, Mr Haglegam argued while pointing to constitutional difficulties Chuuk would have leaving the FSM.

“In every society you encounter crazy people. These are clinical crazy people. They say that if they secure the vote from the Chuukese population then they will come and ask the other three states to amend the Constitution to allow them to separate.”

Chuuk Political Status Commissioner, Sabino Asor
Chuuk Political Status Commissioner, Sabino Asor Photo: Chuuk Reform Coalition

Sabino Asor is the chair of the Chuuk Political Status Commission. He pointed out Mr Haglegam was not a trained lawyer and said he was speaking out of turn.

“He cannot accept the fact that there are people who regard the FSM nation as a mistake or an unaccountable entity,” Mr Asor said.

As for secession being unconstitutional, Mr Asor said the Constitution was put together by different island groups, some of whom did not envision living together in a federation or union perpetually with competing rights and interests.

The islands of Chuuk state.
The islands of Chuuk state. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mr Asor also hit out at Ambassador Riley.

“Nowhere in the Compact does it allow the ambassador of either country to go into the other country to directly and personally participate in the local political process to influence the outcome of a local election or plebiscite.”

It was sad and insulting for any American official to call the Compact relationships “the best there could ever be” considering the “long and winding” history of US colonialism in Micronesia, Mr Asor said.

“The American ambassador wanted to make the Chuukese people worry about their livelihood, but does not want them to understand that the US is also worried about their strategic interest in the Chuuk region which happens to be in the centre of the Micronesian archipelago.”

Mr Asor also took issue with the ambassador using immigration as a reason to stay within the FSM.

“The Compact privilege to enter and live in the US is not really something to be proud of and used in a public campaign against the Chuuk Independence Movement because, for one thing, it is part of the failure of the administering American government’s original obligations to develop the islands to a sustainable level.”

The Chuukese secession vote was going ahead as planned as it was a local government platform, Mr Asor said.

6.2-magnitude Earthquake Hits Vanuatu

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake with a dept of 10km which struck Vanuatu near south Pentecost yesterday has caused damage in some areas.

A local from Ranwas village in south Pentecost reported cracks in the soil and displacement of rocks, following the earthquake.

Situated on a slope in south-east Pentecost, Ranwas village is vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes and landslides.

Villagers place stones as shields to keep their houses in place when they start the foundation.

These stones have been displaced by the earthquake yesterday, leaving families worrying that their houses could easily fall.

There are also cracks in concrete slabs and concrete floors, the local from Ranwas conveyed.

It was also reported that the earthquake has also caused items on shelves in shops to fall at Ranwas and other places like Point Cross.

Augustine Tabak, a chief from Point Cross, said the village’s two water tanks have been destroyed.

“These two tanks store and supply water for the entire village, flowing through pipes from a creek,” he added.

“It’s our only water system.

“Some parts of our church building (Anglican) has also been destroyed.”

The Area Secretary from north Ambrym said they have received minor damages in shops yesterday.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) issued a warning just after the earthquake, saying there is no tsunami threat.

U.S. Delegation to attend 30th Pacific Islands Forum

A high-level U.S. government delegation comprised of senior officials from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Agency for International Development will attend the 30th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Session with Forum Dialogue Partners on September 4, 2018 in Nauru.

The delegation will be led by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. This visit will underscore the U.S.’ close partnership with the Pacific Islands in promoting sustainable growth and prosperity, ensuring regional stability, and addressing global concerns.

The U.S. delegation will host a roundtable with Pacific Islands leaders on September 4, 2018.

Members of the U.S. delegation will also conduct bilateral consultations with heads of state of Pacific Islands Forum members and other senior foreign officials to discuss issues of regional and global importance, including regional security, responding to the threat posed by the activities of the DPRK, combatting illegal fishing, and sustainable development.

The Pacific Islands region is an enduring foreign policy priority for the United States. Through 17 of our departments and agencies – the United States committed more than $350 million in FY 2016 to its engagement with the Pacific Islands via projects, assistance, and operations that directly benefit the 9 million people of the region.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

Outstanding issues eyed in B’ville meet

By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK, The National PNG

NINE key issues have been identified for discussion at the upcoming joint supervisory body (JSB) meeting scheduled for Thursday in Bougainville, the autonomous government’s peace agreement implementation Minister Albert Punghau says.

Punghau said the meeting in Buka between the national government and ABG was a follow-up of the Port Moresby meeting last week.

“I can assure the people of Bougainville that the government is doing everything it can to progress key outstanding issues,” Punghau said,

“I believe we have achieved a high level of engagement with the national government. We need to get leaders on both sides engaged at this meeting.

“I have trust and confidence that outstanding issues will be resolved at the special JSB meeting.”
Issues identified for discussions are:

  • Referendum question(s) to be discussed/endorsed, including the national government to forward any alternative options;
  • Engagement of an international security force through regional approach to increase the credibility of the referendum process in the eyes of the international community;
  • Gazette the chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) and the two PNG members for the BRC;
  • Further payments of restoration and development grants;
  • Further funding for the Bougainville Referendum Commission;
  • Funding for jointly approved weapons disposal plan;
  • National government’s commitment to transfer of BCL shares (19 per cent) to ABG;
  • Unspent salaries savings to be transferred to ABG; and
  • Appointment of two national government representatives for the Bougainville senior appointment committee.

Punghau announced that a joint government transition taskforce had started negotiations on the post-referendum transition period.

Vanuatu’s government could be alone among regional administrations in its bid to have West Papua inscribed on the United Nations de-colonisation list.

Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai speaks at the UN General Assembly.
Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai speaks at the UN General Assembly. Photo: UNGA

The Charlot Salwai-led government plans to submit a draft resolution to the Pacific Islands Forum, calling for Indonesian-ruled Papua to be inscribed on the list at next year’s UN General Assembly.

The intention was conveyed at this month’s meeting of Pacific Forum foreign ministers in Apia.

Despite claims in Vanuatu, however, that other Pacific governments had indicated they would back the draft, no other countries committed support in Apia.

Vanuatu’s announcement of its intention to table the draft was met with demur by Papua New Guinea, Australia and Fiji, while other countries did not make a comment.

Mr Salwai said he would take the draft resolution to Nauru where Pacific Forum leaders hold their annual summit next month.

 

Source: Radio Nea Zealand