Every colonial enterprise pretends to be inspired by something other than theft. The General Act of the Berlin Conference in 1885, under which the European powers carved Africa into formal colonial possessions, claimed that their purpose was “furthering the moral and material wellbeing of the native populations … and bringing home to them the blessings of civilisation”.

Similar rhetoric has attended all such seizures. To save native people from their enslavement to the Devil, or the Arabs, or each other, they had to be forced into general servitude, while their land and natural wealth were transferred to more enlightened people from overseas. Preposterous as such propaganda may seem to most of us today, it was taken very seriously. In some quarters, it still is. Take the case, scandalously neglected in both journalism and politics, of West Papua.West Papua, the western half of New Guinea, is owned and run like a 19th-century colony. But in one respect its situation is even worse, as it is not formally recognised as such. Instead, it is treated by the United Nations and powerful countries – including the United States, Australia and the UK – as part of the national territory of Indonesia, the colonial power.

Until 1962 the Netherlands, which was then the colonial master, had planned to oversee West Papua’s transition to independence. But the Dutch came under massive pressure from the US government, for whom south-east Asia was nothing but a series of counters to be deployed in its great game against the Soviet Union. It insisted that Indonesia be allowed to “administer” West Papua, as long as its people were permitted a referendum on independence by 1969.

Indonesian administration consisted of imprisonment, torture, killing and the theft of everything on which officials and soldiers could lay hands. As the US embassy noted, around 95% of the people of West Papua supported independence. To encourage them to change their minds they were bombed, shelled and strafed, bayoneted and beaten to death. According to the Indonesian governor at the time, between 1963 and 1969 the armed forces murdered 30,000 Papuans.

But there still had to be a referendum. So in 1969 Indonesian officials rounded up 1,026 men, took their families hostage and, under the guns of soldiers, told them to vote. An Indonesian general explained that if they made the wrong choice they would have their tongues ripped out. Swayed by such persuasive arguments, they voted unanimously for annexation. This process was officially known as the Act of Free Choice.

There was, of course, no greater justification for this farce than for the treaties struck at gunpoint with native people in Africa, to fulfil the terms of the Berlin conference. A huge body of international law, including the agreement Indonesia had signed with the Netherlands, shows that questions of sovereignty cannot be decided this way, and that Indonesia has illegally annexed West Papua. But foreign governments affect to take the Act of Free Choice seriously.

Among the most preposterous justifications were those put forward by British officials. “Naturally one sympathises with the natives, but colonialism is not always such a bad thing, indeed it is often beneficial,” one diplomat asserted. A note from the Foreign Office advised that it is “in the general interest to turn a blind eye”, while another official report stated that government policy was “to help sustain the present moderate regime in Indonesia” (the moderate regime being President Suharto’s government, which had already killed around 500,000 opponents).

We’ve had 50 years of such excuses. Last year, foreign office minister Lord Ahmed told the House of Lords that the UK “retains its position on supporting the integrity of Indonesia”. But the principle of integrity does not apply, under international law, to occupied territories.

Doubtless these positions are unconnected to the tremendous mineral wealth of West Papua, now being exploited by multinational corporations without the consent of its people. BP, for example, is working an £8bn natural gas field called Tangguh. Vast deposits of gold, copper and petroleum, timber from the world’s largest contiguous tract of rainforest outside the Amazon, and fertile soils on which palm oil can be grown have been seized from the indigenous people – assisted by the government’s continued imprisonment, torture, rape and murder of those who resist it. Despite the riches being extracted from their land, the Papuans suffer horrendous levels of childhood malnutrition, preventable disease and illiteracy.

But last year something remarkable happened. At great risk to their lives, and in constant danger of discovery by the soldiers occupying their land, West Papuan campaigners gathered 1.8 million validated signatures and thumbprints on a petition to the UN to respect their right to self-determination. This amounts to 70% of the indigenous population. Many people were beaten and tortured for spreading it or signing it.

This month, after a year of being stonewalled, parliamentary supporters of West Papuan independence (who include Jeremy Corbyn) have at last been allowed to present this petition to the Foreign Office. Because the leader of the independence movement, Benny Wenda, lives in this country and because the UK, with its seat on the UN security council, has been instrumental in justifying the seizure of their land, using the age-old excuses for colonial rule, the attempt at international recognition begins here. The question is: will the government listen, or will it continue to pretend, as it did in 1885, that the theft of a nation is a sacred duty?

 

Source (The Guardian)

The Attack on the Sanctity of Parliament Condemned

MEDIA RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2018

THE ATTACK ON THE SANCTITY OF PARLIAMENT CONDEMNED

PORT MORESBY: National Capital District Governor, Hon. Powes Parkop this evening condemned the rampage being done to the Parliament by the disgruntled APEC security officers and looting inflicted by opportunists on several shops in the city yesterday.

“Whilst order has been restored and I am happy it’s business as usual in our capital city, I want to condemn the criminal act of the officers in their attack on our House of Parliament.

“An attack on the parliament is an attack on the sovereignty of our people. It’s criminal and it has to be utterly condemned.

“I am feeling a sense of grief inside me that this has happened in Port Moresby and it’s a tragedy for our city,” he said.

Yesterday after calming the situation down with the security personnels involved in the incident just to deescalate the situation so everyone can go home in peace for the stability of the city, Mr Parkop said he was still shocked how grown up members of the joint security task force for APEC see it fit to destroy parliament at will just for delay in payment of allowance.

“This is utterly unacceptable.

“I call upon everyone involved to do the right thing let it be arrests, suspension, salary cut to repair the damages or total sacking from the force. Your job is to protect the country not to provoke tension and chaos,” an angry Parkop said.

“As Governor of our Capital City I want to assure residents that I will not allow such nonsense or mishap to happen again. I am in discussions with the Police Minister to give me High Level Special Unit Security Officers to protect state institutions in the city even if NCDC has to fund it,” he said.

The trauma and the shock waves to our residents, school going children, commuters, shoppers, business houses due to such irresponsible behaviour is truly unbelievable and unbecoming of our people, according to him.

“I am sad to say that the behaviour and the mind set of our people are still a long way to any form of civility.

“We are on high alert and we have learnt our lessons and I once again assure everyone to feel safe and go about your work and business as I am doing all I can to assure safety and peace in our city as my number 1 priority.

God bless our city and our country Papua New Guinea,” he said.

APPROVED FOR RELEASE

……………………………….

Hon. Powes Parkop, LLB, LLM, MP

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ncdparkop/

Indonesia’s President is encouraging Indonesian companies to develop palm oil in Solomon Islands.

No caption
Joko Widodo. Photo: AFP

Joko Widodo met with the Solomons Prime Minister Rick Hou on Saturday on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Widodo said they discussed Indonesian investment in Solomon Islands, including through palm oil development.

Indonesia also offered support with its fishing and tourism industries.

Mr Widodo said he appreciated the Solomons’ support for Indonesian sovereignty, an apparent reference to the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

An Indonesian forest cleared to plant oil palm trees, 19 May 2017.
An Indonesian forest cleared to plant oil palm trees, 19 May 2017. Photo: AFP

 

Source (Radio New Zealand)

Vietnam Prime Minister keen to conclude visa waiver agreement
PM Charlot Salwai and the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai held bilateral talks with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the sideline of the APEC Economic Leaders meeting on the 17th of November 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister of Vietnam told Prime Minister Salwai that Vietnam attaches great importance in the development of relations with Vanuatu, suggesting both countries should agree on cooperatives measures to enhance bilateral ties.

He further invited his Vanuatu counterpart to visit Vietnam in the first quarter of 2019 and reiterated the importance of regular high level visits and exchanges between the two countries as opportunities to review and enhance relations.

Since the beginning of this year Vanuatu has received the minister of Foreign Affairs and the minister of Fisheries of Vietnam on official visit to the country.

This reflects the Vietnam government’s commitment to upgrade relations to higher level.

Prime Minister Phuc reiterated his government wish to conclude the visa waiver agreement on diplomatic and official passport between the two countries and to explore opportunities for cooperation through the establishment of a Joint Government Commission.

He applauded the decision by the Vanuatu government to open a fully fledge consulate general in Ho Chi Min while confirming that Vietnam will also appoint a honorary consul in Port Vila to further promote the friendly relations and exchanges between the two countries.

PM Salwai reaffirms the Vanuatu government’s commitment to promote friendly relations and exchanges between the two countries both bilaterally and via multilateral platforms.

He reassures Prime Minister Phuc of Vanuatu’s support to Vietnam candidature to the UN Security Council Non- Permanent Seat for the period 2020-2021, Vietnam being the ASEAN sole candidate endorsed by the Asia Pacific Group in the United Nations.

The potential of establishing an Air Service Agreement with Vietnam and establishing a direct route from South East Asia to Vanuatu for Asian Tourists to visit Vanuatu was also discussed and very much welcomed by the Vietnamese Leader.

He confirmed his government would seriously consider Vanuatu’s proposal for the establishment of an Air Service Agreement between Vanuatu and Vietnam. PM made also reference to the Vietnam Diaspora in Vanuatu with large numbers of business entrepreneurs who had great influence to the society and made significant contribution to the Vanuatu Economy.

The two leaders agreed to effectively implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Technical and Development Cooperation that was recently concluded between the two countries, to accelerate negotiation and signing of the visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport, to begin negotiation on the establishment of an Air Service Agreement and pursue cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The two leaders are confident the relations between Vietnam and Vanuatu will grow stronger as they plan to meet again next year and continue discussions on issues of common interest.

The bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers was held immediately after the APEC Leaders meeting with the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.

 

Source (Daily Post Vanuat)