“What I wish to stress is that fighting for freedom (for West Papua) is everyone’s business beginning with chiefs, church leaders, papas and mamas and young people especially since they have so much energy and power to do those things that their parents cannot do”.
Former Cabinet Minister and former politician, Hilda Lini is the sister of the once ‘Father of Independence’ and first ever Prime Minister of the newly born Republic of Vanuatu, Father Walter Lini, who led the country for the first eleven years after a joint colonial period of 74 years of statelessness.
The once outspoken political leader dared to contest political elections with her male counterparts and won fairly years before any thought of ‘reserve seat’.
Hilda Lini was invited to attend the West Papua Day on December 1 on the Sea Front and became one of the very few invited guests to attend.
While all West Papuan leaders as well as local speakers heartily thanked the Government and people of Vanuatu for their steadfast support towards the West Papua Struggle, no cabinet Ministers nor MPs were present in the ceremony.
Her presence was an assurance of the country’s continuing responsibility over West Papua after the hosting of the historic meeting of West Papuan factions in the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs Nakamal in 2014.
The Chairman of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Pastor Alain Nafuki said that meeting became the stepping stone to where west Papua is today after the formation of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua following that meeting.
“The Government went ahead to allocate land at Crow’s Nest to host the ULMWP Office”, he said.
Looking back at country’s struggle for freedom, Lini said Vanuatu’s struggle and its Unity Day on November 29 marking the hoisting of the Vanuaaku Pati flag to proclaim the formation of the People’s Provisional Government was similar to West Papua’s December 1 National Day.
“The only difference was that the West Papua people hoisted their own flag in 1961 so they started their struggle earlier than we did ours but we have achieved our freedom while they are still fighting to achieve theirs”, she noted.
“On July 30 of 1980 here at Independence Park, our first ever Prime Minister, Father Walter Lini, made this statement to all invited guests from near far including guests from West Papua saying, ‘Vanuatu has become an Independent Nation today but yet it is not completely free until every country that is fighting for freedom has achieved its freedom and only then will Vanuatu be completely free’.
“This is the biggest responsibility in our hands in Vanuatu today; little children, young people who were born after 1980, those who were born before 1980, papas, mamas, church leaders and chiefs and every one of us – all members of parliament and the Government, altogether we have this responsibility in our hands.
“While we rejoice for our freedom but we must not forget that we are not totally free until our brothers and sisters who are not far from us are totally free.
“This is our responsibility that is ahead of us and we must get involved to enable West Papua to be free, Kanaky and Tahiti and Wallis and Futuna must be free, while we stayed with East Timor (Timor Leste) until it achieved its freedom. The others are not yet free.
“My message to us the mamas is for us to stand firm at all times because in all situations, we have proved ourselves that we are capable so with all our people, let us stand in solidarity with West Papua until it achieves its independence.
Source: Vanuatu Daily Post