What’s at stake in West Papua

Dr Mark Busse and Sophie Faber examine West Papua‘s history to see what’s at stake politically and economically in the current unrest

West Papua has been in the media more than usual over the last six months, with stories about indigenous protests against racism and repression, demands for independence, brutal Indonesian police and military crackdowns, and the banning of foreign journalists.

And yet, many people know little about West Papua, a territory larger than Germany with a population of 3.5 million. In this article, we provide a brief introduction to West Papua, focusing on the historical background to the present situation and what is at stake politically and economically in the current unrest.

The name “West Papua” can itself be confusing, and how this name is used is a political act. The name refers to the western half of the island of New Guinea, just north of Australia. The eastern half of the island is part of Papua New Guinea, which became independent from Australia in 1975. The western half of New Guinea, currently part of Indonesia, has had various names over the last 125 years—Netherlands New Guinea, West New Guinea, West Irian, Irian Jaya, and Papua. Since 2007, West Papua has been two separate provinces—Papua (most of the western half of New Guinea) and West Papua (the westernmost tip of the island). Independence activists and their supporters, however, refer to the entire western half of the island as “West Papua”, and that is how we will use the name in this article.

A quick look at a map of the island shows the arbitrariness of many political boundaries, reflecting the colonial histories of New Guinea. Many of these are straight lines; drawn by Europeans who knew little to nothing about the areas they were dividing, and which have nothing to do with terrain or the interests of the people who live along those boundaries. This arbitrariness is especially true of the 820km international border between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

People have lived in New Guinea for approximately 50,000 years. While Western popular images of New Guinea are of primitiveness and isolation, the people of New Guinea have long histories of innovation and have been connected with other parts of the world for a long time. The Highlands region of what is now Papua New Guinea was one of the first places in the world where people practiced agriculture, beginning about 9,000 years ago. Sugar cane was first domesticated in lowland New Guinea approximately 8,000 years ago, and bird of paradise feathers from New Guinea were used in China as long as 2,000 years ago.

European colonisation of West Papua began in earnest in 1828 when the Dutch claimed sovereignty over New Guinea west of 141° east longitude. This claim was made prior to any Dutch, or other European, person visiting the interior of New Guinea, and was made in the absence of any Western knowledge concerning the people who lived on, or near, the 141st meridian.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Dutch maintained a few outposts on the coasts of West Papua. Later, between 1928 and 1942, Dutch colonial authorities imprisoned about 1,000 Indonesian nationalists near the headwaters of the Digul River, a remote area of West Papua largely cut off from the outside world and notorious for endemic malaria. As a result, this prison camp, and West Papua more generally, became part of the Indonesian independence narrative.

Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945, but it took four years of armed conflict before the Netherlands recognised Indonesia’s independence. As part of its struggle, Indonesia asserted a political claim to West Papua, which the Netherlands rejected. In 1950, a committee of Indonesian and Dutch officials, but no West Papuans, met to determine West Papua’s fate. Indonesia argued that all Dutch colonial territory was historically part of greater Indonesia, a claim the Dutch rejected. They argued that West Papuans were racially distinct and had a right to self-determination. While many countries agreed with the Dutch, the United States, concerned to keep Indonesia on their side in the Cold War, pressed the Dutch to acquiesce to Indonesia’s demands.

In 1961, after ten years of inconclusive negotiations, the New Guinea Council, made up of West Papuans, declared independence and adopted the Morning Star flag, which was first raised on December 1, 1961. This flag has become a powerful symbol for West Papuans, many of whom have been attacked or imprisoned over the years for raising it. In response to the declaration of independence, Indonesia mounted an unsuccessful military campaign to “regain” West Papua from the Dutch in 1962. The same year, the Dutch agreed to UN administration of West Papua with the understanding that a referendum on West Papua’s future would be held before the end of 1969.

On August 2,1969, an “Act of Free Choice” was organised by the Indonesian military under UN supervision. Rather than a referendum of West Papuan people, which was what the UN planned, consultations were held with 1025 West Papuan leaders who were, under the watchful eye of the Indonesian military, forced at gunpoint and through a show of hands to unanimously agree to their country’s integration with Indonesia. Despite arguments by Ghana and other African countries for a new referendum, the UN General Assembly endorsed the incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia, ironically in the name of decolonisation and regional stability.

From 1969 until today there has been ongoing armed resistance by groups seeking independence, and it is estimated that 100,000 West Papuans have been killed in the ensuing violence. Indonesia has been accused of human rights abuses, including military attacks on civilians advocating for independence or expressing sympathy toward rebels. People who raise the Morning Star flag are jailed for treason. Indonesia governs West Papua as a police state, including banning international journalists. As of 2010, 13,500 West Papuan refugees live in exile in Papua New Guinea.

What is at stake in these struggles over West Papua? Why is Indonesia unwilling to allow West Papuans to exercise their right of self-determination? Much of the answer has to do with West Papua’s huge economic and land resources.

When the Dutch claimed sovereignty in 1828, they knew little about the economic potential of West Papua. Over the last century, however, the enormous resources of West Papua have become clearer. Access to resources has been a major factor driving Dutch, Indonesian, and American interests in West Papua since 1945. Those resources include some of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits, large oil and gas deposits, vast forests, and the land itself.

The Grasberg mine, jointly owned by the Indonesian government and the US mining company Freeport-McMoRan, has the world’s largest gold reserves and the world’s second largest copper reserves. West Papua’s large oil and gas deposits are being exploited by British, Chinese, and Japanese companies. West Papua has more than 10 million hectares of tropical rainforest for which Indonesia has granted logging concessions. After the forests are removed, the land is used to grow food and export cash crops, especially oil palm.

In addition to industrial agriculture, land in West Papua is valuable for resettling people from other densely-populated parts of Indonesia. In 1970, indigenous West Papuans were 90 percent of the population. By 2010, they were less than half of the population. As lucrative as the natural resources are, it is the availability of land for resettlement that provides one of the biggest motivations for Indonesia’s opposition to West Papuan self-determination. With 20 percent of Indonesia’s landmass, West Papua has less than two percent of Indonesia’s population, and Indonesia sees this as critical to solving its population problem.

The recent violent events in West Papua are a continuation of a long struggle against racism and colonialism. Few profits from natural resources have gone to West Papuans. Instead, West Papuans have been evicted from their lands, subjected to brutal racism, and treated like foreigners in their own lands. The tragedy is that Indonesia, which has its own experience of rebellion and revolt against Dutch colonialism, cannot identify with the current and ongoing anti-colonial struggles of West Papuans.

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

Benny Mawel, The Jakarta Post

Two military officers and a policeman have been killed during recent clashes in Papua, sparking fear among residents of the predominantly Christian region with the conflicts breaking out just one week prior to Christmas day.

In Papua’s Intan Jaya regency, two soldiers – identified as First Lt. Erizal Zuhri and Second Sgt. Rizky – were killed in a shootout with members of West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in Sugapa district, Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Col. Taibur Rahman said.

The TNI soldiers, who were deployed to the restive region as part of a joint military and police security task force, were attacked when they were on duty to secure the district while its residents prepared for Christmas celebrations on Tuesday, he said.

Taibur claimed the task force had received reports from residents that members of an armed criminal group in the area had intimidated and physically abused them.

“The security staffers were intensifying patrols in the area suspected to be the group’s base when suddenly a shootout broke out and the two TNI soldiers were killed,” he said in a statement.

Taibur added that the attackers were suspected to have also been behind the shooting of three ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers, who were found dead in the district with bullet wounds to their heads on Oct. 25.

In Yahukimo, meanwhile, Brig. Hendra Saut Sibarani – a member of the Riau Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit deployed as part of a security operation to the regency – died during a brawl with several locals on Wednesday, Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said.

Ahmad said the conflict broke out at Yahukimo Police headquarters after several officers reprimanded a resident for urinating on a wall next to a police post.
The resident, angered by the police’s response, reportedly initiated the brawl. “He called bystanders around the post and by the road. They formed a group and then attacked the police’s headquarters,” Ahmad said.

The Jakarta Post asked Ahmad via text message for an update on the situation in Yahukimo on Thursday. “Everything is under control. Thanks,” he replied.

As Christmas nears, these conflicts in Papua ─ which follow a string of violent and deadly incidents in the restive region since August this year ─ have caused fear and a sense of insecurity among many locals, head of Sugapa’s St. Mikael parish council John Abugau said.

He said many residents were too afraid to go about their normal daily activities and were also frightened by the sound of military helicopters patrolling the area.

“People choose to stay at home, while the helicopter flies overhead. They are frightened by just the sound of the helicopter,” he told the Post on Thursday.

He called on military officers to adopt a different approach to safeguard the area so that people could resume their normal daily activities. (vla)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/

By Niniek Karmini | AP

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Two soldiers were killed in a clash between security forces and independence fighters in Indonesia’s restive easternmost province of Papua, the military said Wednesday.
Military spokesman Col. Taibur Rahman said rebels opened fire at troops on patrol in a village in Intan Jaya district on Tuesday, killing at least two soldiers. The village is known as a hotbed of separatist rebels.
He said the troops had been deployed to help police prevent any disturbances by separatists ahead of Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Christian region.
The shootout is the latest in a series of violent incidents this year in the mineral-rich but impoverished Papua region, where conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common.

The military said two suspected rebels were killed in a gunbattle on Dec. 2 in Lanny Jaya district, in an apparent escalation of attacks by the West Papua National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement, marking Dec. 1, which many Papuans consider to be the anniversary of what should have been their independence.

Police said they arrested at least 34 people accused of treason on Dec. 1 for attending a ceremony and raising flags with the separatist symbol. A declaration of independence from Dutch rule on Dec. 1, 1961, was rejected by the Dutch and later by Indonesia.
In September, more than 30 people were killed during violent protests by thousands of people in Papua and West Papua provinces against alleged racism toward Papuans.

An insurgency has simmered since the early 1960s in Papua, a a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Christmas Message by the Prime Minister Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, MP

My fellow Solomon Islanders,

We have reached another milestone in our journey as a Christian country. Today we reach another Christmas in which we collective celebrate the birth of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

Christmas is a time to share the love of Christ between and among ourselves. It is a unifying theme in all Christian countries as we collectively reflect on our own relationships with each other as families and as a nation.
My fellow Solomon Islanders, on behalf of my family and the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement, I extend to you all, this Christmas day, our very warm and sincere Christmas greetings.

It is my greatest desire that each and every Solomon Islander experiences the joy, love, peace and goodwill that flows from our heavenly father to us during this Christmas season.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, let us join hands as we celebrate this joyous occasion, with the recognition that it is our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ together with the rich cultural diversity that spans across our beautiful islands and atolls that provides the platform for our national pride and purpose.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us reflect further in its true meaning – the gifting of our Lord Jesus Christ to ensure that those who believe in him will be saved.
So whatever it is that we all do in addition to celebrating the birth of our Lord, I encourage you all to also take time and enjoy life in all its splendour – whether it is dancing to the ‘ruteku’ in Santa Ana or to the cheerful ‘saleolo’ in Isabel Province, or whether it is village feasting in Malaita or enjoying some charcoal grilled fish along the white sandy beaches of the West, may God continue to guide and protect you and your families during this Christmas season.
My fellow Solomon Islanders, the last eight months of the DCGA government have been fruitful. We have faced many challenges – but we have also made some tremendous gains and achievements for our people and our country – for example:
• Our new submarine cable system will be operational early in 2020 and will transform our communication platform with the cheapest, fastest and most reliable internet services this country will ever experience – benefiting all of us.
• The Tina River Hydro project is well on its way now to construction to ensure that by 2023 the power supply to our capital city will be 80% derived from our new hydro power base.
• The Munda International Airport is operational
• The Development Bank of Solomon Islands has been launched
• The analytical work on our new transformational project to revolutionise infrastructure development for all the 50 constituencies – the national transport core is on track. This project will touch and improve the lives of all Solomon Islanders.
• The project to transform our capital city and all provincial capitals is underway
• The 2023 Pacific Games which our nation will proudly host and where I hope our youths and sports people will excel is on track. The 2023 Games will unify our nation as we prepare to host this major event.

Fellow Solomon Islanders, I believe that in everything we do, we will have agreements and disagreements, be it in our own families, our communities, our provinces and even the national level.
However, I also believe there is more that unites us, than divides us. I believe that deep down inside each one of us, lies the spirit of peace, progress, reconciliation and unity. The challenges we face will make us even stronger as a people and a country – if we put our faith in the one whose birth we are celebrating today – Jesus Christ.
Let us use this Christmas season to also acknowledge the role of each one of us and our families play to push our nation forward.
My good people, as diverse as our nation is, we are also united in our wish for a better future – a future we can leave for our children and future generations that follow us.
Let us remember that the most important thing about Christmas is the demonstration of God’s love to each one of us, to our families and to our nation.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus today, let us reach out to each other, to wish each other God’s love that has been fulfilled through the birth of Christ on this day – two thousand years ago.
Fellow citizens, let me close with a very well know verse in scripture that most is us have memorised …

… John 3 verse 16 and I quote from the good news translation …
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life”
Fellow Solomon Islanders, the depth of God’s love for each one of us is such that he sent his one and only son – Jesus Christ. Our faith in Jesus Christ will determine where each of us will spend eternity on life’s end.
As we celebrate this Christmas, let us reflect on, and let us put into practice the type of love demonstrated by our Heavenly father. Let us extend our love to each other and to all citizens of this beautiful God-given nation of ours. In this way we will bring to fruition the vision that underpins our National Anthem … of joy, peace, progress and prosperity…
Let me also convey my Christmas greetings to our citizens who maybe sick at home or in hospitals and also to those serving time in our correctional centres. Merry Christmas to you all.

Let me now close by wishing you all a Blessed Christmas season. In particular let me also pass on my Christmas greetings and wishes to:

• The Governor General and his family
• The Speaker of the National Parliament and his family
• The Chief Justice and his family
• Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers & their families
• Leader of the Official Opposition Group and his family
• Leader of the Independent Group and his family
• All members of parliament and your families
• All constitutional post holders and your families
• Provincial Premiers, Members of Provincial Governments, Chiefs and Village Elders and all people in all our provinces
• Government Ministries, Departments and other Public Offices
• The Churches and Faith-based organizations
• The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF)
• The Judiciary and Legal Services and the Legal Fraternity
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Our Development Partners and Friends
• The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and their members;
• Our Farmers and Fishermen in our Rural Areas;
• Our Shipping Operators, and other Transport Services Providers
• Management and Staff of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) and Authorities
• Non-Government Organizations
• Media Organizations
• Our Pensioners and Retirees
• All the men and women, boys and girls throughout Solomon Islands.
Finally, let me finish as I began, by wishing all citizens of our beautiful country a very happy Christmas season and a very happy new year on behalf of myself, my family and the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement.

May God Bless us all
May God Bless Solomon Islands from shore to shore
Merry Christmas to you all and a very happy new year.

Source: Facebook.com

XI Jimping–the president of China responding to an interviewer on Afrika and PNG.

Your thoughts fellow PNGeans/ fellow black people.

“The only thing that the black man has inherited from the european colonization is the religion that he practices and that’s exactly what the european colonizers and land occupiers wanted.

Have you not noticed in black countries or black neighborhoods around the world; the education is disaster, the administration is corrupt, health is deplorable, but religion is doing wonderfully well?

Black people rebels against everything and are audacious to question everything except religion. The literally even brag about being more religious than those who brought them these concepts.

Black people even claim themselves to be the original race from whom Jesus has descended. You have some black people having a white man hanging on their walls believing that he is their savior and foolish enough to be thinking that this white man will actually save them before saving his own people, the white race.

Noticed that any society that’s full with superstitions, religious indoctrination, lack of education,lack of nationalist spirit and who idolizes their historical enemies is a society that’s always war ridden and a backward society.

And let me add that only the black race would be blessed with a continent as rich as is Afrika and the Pacific but then accept to live as poor as is the Afrikan and PNG people ”

Source: facebook.com

By NINIEK KARMINI Associated Press December 21, 2019 — 5:30am

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Gunmen opened fire on a small commercial plane as it landed in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua carrying nine passengers, one of the plane’s pilots said Saturday. No casualties were reported.

The attack occurred Friday in the hilly district of Puncak, a stronghold of separatists who have battled Indonesian rule in the mineral-rich but impoverished region since the early 1960s, said the Indonesian co-pilot, Purwanto Condro Usodo.

Usodo said that he and the Australian pilot, Michael Cumming, were initially unaware of the shooting and managed to land the aircraft safely at Beoga airport from the mining town of Timika until passengers told them that they saw gunmen spray the plane with bullets while landing.

Usodo said in a video obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday from a source in the Indonesian army that about 30 minutes later, the gunmen tried to shoot people who were unloading supplies and luggage from the plane. But the gunmen fled into the jungle after soldiers on the ground returned fire, while the pilots and passengers were evacuated to a security post near the airport.

It was unclear whether any of the gunmen were killed in the shootout, which lasted over three hours, Usodo said.

Military spokesmen did not answer calls seeking comment on the shooting, which happened amid an apparent escalation of attacks since Dec. 1 by the West Papua National Liberation Army, or TPNPB, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement. A declaration of independence from Dutch rule on Dec. 1, 1961, was rejected by the Dutch and later by Indonesia.

A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered in Papua since it was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian rule in 1963. The region, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea, was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a U.N.-sponsored ballot that has since been dismissed as a sham.

Indonesian military and police said earlier that three soldiers and a policeman have been killed during recent clashes in Papua, sparking fear among residents of the predominantly Christian region, with the attacks coming just ahead of Christmas.

Source: www.startribune.com/

ACP and West Papua – and PNG’s Foreign Policy on West Papua?

The 79 Member States of the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group passed a resolution at last week’s 9th ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government calling for urgent attention to be paid to the ongoing human rights crisis in West Papua.

PNG and ACP 110th Summit – West Papua’s Time Has Come.

Last week PNG’s Foreign Minister Patrick Pruaitch successfully chaired the110th Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Council and 9th Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6 – 10 December 2019.https://dailypost.vu/…/article_9e25a50a-1ebe-11ea-bd79-3758…

However, the rigorous scrutiny on West Papua began on the floor of Parliament which was an explosive examination of
old questions that were left on the table for decades since PNG attained self – rule in 1975.

Opposition Leader and Vanimo Green River MP Belden Namah on the 11 October 2019 asked a series of questions relating to West Papua.

He wanted the Prime Minister to inform this Parliament if he has advanced West Papua human rights issues at the United Nations, APEC, or any Pacific islands Forums or any other global leadership forum.

‘ I heard the Prime Minister only talk about what he dreams of doing in PNG and he has not even spelt out one single foreign policy.’

The Opposition Leader pointed out the contradiction in which PNG was already in the conflict between Indonesia and its role as natural proxy to Melanesian brothers and sisters of West Papua, by default.

He also wanted the Prime Minister to inform Parliament of the Government’s foreign policy on West Papua and human rights concerns in West Papua.

In the aftermath of last week’s international event in which PNG’s Foreign Minister Patrick Pruaitch successfully chaired the110th Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Council and 9th Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6 – 10 December 2019, West Papua and the momentum it needs to put its case for self – rule has been sustained, shepherded, by men of God, and men of science.

West Papua is approaching freedom.

And, walking in the shadows of Bougainville Referendum 2019.

West Papua represented by ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda; mass solidarity for West Papua - afforded by social media;1st December 2019, Global Flag Raising Day, Vanimo
West Papua represented by ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda; mass solidarity for West Papua – afforded by social media;1st December 2019, Global Flag Raising Day, Vanimo

(Photo caption: Opposition Leader Belden Namah – asked 6 questions on West Papua, 11 October 2019, Parliament Session; ACP 110th Council and 9th Summit – chaired by PNG’s Foreign Minister Patrick Pruaitch; West Papua represented by ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda; mass solidarity for West Papua – afforded by social media;1st December 2019, Global Flag Raising Day, Vanimo)

Third woman elected to Solomon Islands’ parliament

A third woman MP has been elected in Solomon Islands.

Lillian Maefai registered an historic by-election win in the East Makira constituency, becoming the third woman to be elected to the current parliament and setting a new record for women’s representation in the 50 member house.

According to results released by the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, early on Saturday morning, Mrs Maefai polled 3371 votes – over 2000 more than her nearest rival, Alfred Ghiro.

For the Solomon Islands chief electoral officer Mose Saitala, the by-election itself was already special as it was the first time the commission had trialled simultaneously running a provincial election alongside a national by-election, he said.

Mr Saitala said then to get such an historic result was the icing on the cake.

“We have elected for the first time the third woman into the national parliament. So we are having three sitting women MPs for the very first time in the Solomon Islands parliament. So that is a very, very satisfying result,” he said.

The East Makira by-election was called after the sudden death, in July, of Mrs Maefai’s late husband, Charles Maefai, a first time MP who had only been elected three months earlier.

Mr Saitala said he understands arrangements are being made to try and get Lillian Maefai to return to the capital Honiara from her constituency sometime in the next few days so that she can be sworn in on the floor of parliament before it adjourns for the year.

The other women MPs in Solomon Islands current parliament are Freda Soriacomua, the MP for Temotu Vatud, and Lanelle Tanangada, the MP for Gizo Kolombangara.

In the 41 years since Solomon Islands gained its independence from Britain, Lillian Maefai is only the fifth woman to be elected to the country’s parliament.

The first woman to be elected in Solomon Islands was Hilda Kari representing North East Guadalcanal in the 1980s. There was not a second until 2012 when Vika Lusibaea won the by-election for North Malaita, a seat left vacant after her husband Jimmy Lusibaea was convicted of a criminal offence.

Kenya welcomes African Caribbean and Pacific Group of states attending the 9th Summit of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) at KICC in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nairobi, Kenya, Source: https://www.gpanreunification.org-


Kenya welcomes African Caribbean and Pacific Group of states attending the 9th Summit of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) at KICC in Nairobi, Kenya

Delegasi KTT 2019 Kelompok Negara Karibia dan Pasifik Afrika (Foto: gpanreunification.org - GOOD INDONESIA)
Delegasi KTT 2019 Kelompok Negara Karibia dan Pasifik Afrika (Foto: gpanreunification.org – GOOD INDONESIA)

Global Pan Africanism Network has been advocating for Swahili to be embraced as a language for reunification of all people of African descent and the move by the Deputy President to spread Kiswahili in the summit is a brilliant idea.

African Caribbean and Pacific Group of nations summit being held in Nairobi has renewed hopes of ACP states being integrated into the African Union.
Here is the Program for the Summit:
Dates:
Pre-Summit Events

6-10 December 2019 – Investment Village (Exhibition)

8 December 2019

  • ACP Business Summit
  • Women and Youth Side-event: “Empowerment of Women and Youth in ACP States”

9-10 December 2019 – 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government

West Papua Independence Leader Benny Wenda and Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu.
are among those attending.

West Papua is finally home.
Now is the right time for Africa to support Decolonization of West Papua and take action to end Black Genocide in West Papua.

This summit is an opportunity for Kenya to stand against Indonesian colonialism in West Papua.
Over 500,000 Papuans been killed invasion of West Papua by Indonesian military and each day Papuans are landing in jail for expressing their desire to be free.
Just raising the morning star flag can earn West Papuans 15 years in prison.
The time has come for the world to respond to Indonesian atrocities against people of African descent in West Papua

Bougainville voters back independence by landslide

Voters backing Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea have won a landslide referendum victory, according to results released Wednesday — a major step toward the troubled isles becoming the world’s newest nation.

Chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission Bertie Ahern declared 176,928 people — around 98 percent of voters — had backed independence with just 3,043 supporting the option of remaining part of Papua New Guinea with more autonomy.

The announcement prompted loud cheers, applause and tears as dignitaries soon burst into song, with strains of the islands’ anthem “My Bougainville” ringing out.
“Happy is an understatement” nursing graduate Alexia Baria told AFP, “you see my tears, this is the moment we have been waiting for.”

The historic vote caps a decades-long peace process and a long recovery from a brutal civil war between Bougainville rebels, Papua New Guinea security forces and foreign mercenaries that ended in 1998 and left up to 20,000 people dead — 10 percent of the population.

“Now, at least psychologically, we feel liberated,” said John Momis, the priest-turned-leader of the autonomous region’s government.

But independence will not be immediate, a long political process lies ahead and leaders face formidable financial and administrative challenges to turn a cluster of poor Pacific islands into a fully-fledged nation.

The result must first be ratified by Papua New Guinea’s parliament — where there is opposition to the move for fear it may spark other independence movements in a nation defined by disparate linguistic and tribal groups.

But the scale of the victory for the pro-independence side will heap pressure on Port Moresby to endorse the outcome.

“There’s no misinterpreting this result — Bougainville wants independence” said Shane McLeod of Sydney’s Lowy Institute. “The strength of the vote would seem to make it all but inevitable.”

“Port Moresby will need to quickly digest the result,” he said, “they’ll need to be ready to talk about the timetable for independence.”
Speaking in Buka, Ahern urged all sides to recognise a vote that was about “your peace, your history, and your future” and showed “the power of the pen over weapons”.
Puka Temu, Port Moresby’s minister for Bougainville affairs, said “the outcome is a credible one” but asked that voters “allow the rest of Papua New Guinea sufficient time to absorb this result”.

‘First hurdle’

In stark contrast to past internecine bloodshed, voting began on November 23 with ecstatic residents — some festooned in grass garlands — forming makeshift choirs that stomped through the streets, waving independence flags, blowing bamboo pipes and chanting in chorus.

The vote officially ended on December 7 and according to the Bougainville Referendum Commission it passed off without major incident.