Following the election of James Marape as the 8th Prime Minister, there has been numerous articles posted on social media asking the question why I was absent and abstained from voting. 

Last Wednesday, the former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced his resignation. Soon after resigning Members of Parliament walked over to acknowledge him. 

What was unknown to 27 Members of Opposition or William Duma’s URP, was that 4am that morning James Marape had struck a deal with Peter O’Neill to resign, which would trigger a vacancy after which Marape would lead 34 Members from the Laguna Camp across to join Crown and be their nominee for the PM position.

Why and how did it all happen? 

On Tuesday, the Members of Laguna Camp conducted a secret ballot to determine who will be named as the alternative Prime Minister. There were three main contenders for the position, James Marape, Patrick Pruaitch and William Duma. 

The numbers were stacked as follows: 

Marape 27 Members 
Pruaitch 27 Members 
Duma 13 Members 

Marape’s 27 Members included: 
Pangu – Ginsou/ Marape (21) 
People’s Party – Ipatas/ Davis/ Tongamp (3) 
Our Development Party – Puka Temu (1)
THE Party – Jeffrey Kama (1) 

Pruaitch 27 Members included: 
Original Opposition 24
Wera Mori (1) – Ex PNC / joined NA 
Tony Wouowu (1) Ex PNC / joined NA 
Social Development Party – John Kaupa (1) 

Duma’s URP Members included: 
Original URP 9 of 11 that crossed to Laguna camp 
Two absent Members, Fabian Pok & Wesley Ramani who decided to remain with Crown camp. 
Pila Ninigi (defected from PNC joined URP)
Richard Masere (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP)
John Pundari (defected from PNC joined URP)
Douglas Tomurisea (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP). 

Before Duma agreed to join, Laguna camp had 49 Members, short of 7 MPs to meet the required majority of 56 Members. 

Duma insisted that he would only join camp provided Marape and Pruaitch sign an MOU stating that he would become the alternative Prime Minister. This agreement was signed at 4am in the morning without the knowledge of the rest of Members in the Laguna Camp. 

Duma having this agreement in his pocket (literally) convinced four PNC Members (Ninigi, Masere, Pundari and Tomurisea) to join URP with the promise of a Ministry appointment. 

However, what Duma and the PNC Members were not aware of was that while Pruaitch and Marape may have agreed to nominate Duma, it didn’t mean the remaining Members of the Laguna camp would. 

This issue was raised on Monday morning at the Laguna camp where it was proposed that a secret ballot would determine the nominee. After some debate it was agreed the three nominees needed to discuss between themselves as to who will be the nominee and if they couldn’t decide then a secret ballot would proceed. 

Earlier on the same day, the Opposition caucus meeting was held to debrief on the latest issues concerning the nomination. Pruaitch explained that he was in discussion with Peter O’Neill about the option of joining Crown camp, where O’Neill would resign and nominate Pruaitch as the next Prime Minister. 

We were each asked for our views, on account this was not the first time the issue of joining O’Neill came up, I stood up and announced to our team that I’ve had enough of this crap and could no longer be part of a team who were considering joining O’Neill or even in discussion with him. I explained to Pruaitch that while in camp I was told that Pruaitch was in talks with O’Neill which I vehemently denied stating that he would never go back to O’Neill. I left the Opposition team since I refused to be party to any plans of joining O’Neill and I offered to help Marape’s team.

On Monday evening, the night before the secret ballot, I started lobbying with Members of Marape’s team and National Alliance Members (Allan Bird) together with URP Team (Jelta Wong) that we should just nominate James Marape to be the alternative. I was concerned that if we went to a secret ballot there would be issues. 

At 7am Tuesday morning, Duma held a caucus meeting with 13 of his Members at pool side. I checked back with Bird and Wong what their party position was, their response being they would not support Marape. 

After breakfast all 67 members of Laguna camp met to discuss who will be the nominee. There was heated debate, Wong insisting the terms of MOU that Duma should be honoured while others said that agreement is not binding because the Members were not party to it. 

Marape, Duma, and Pruaitch left the room, in their discussion Duma argued it was only fair they should honour the MOU, however Pruaitch objected making the point Duma put his hand on the Bible week’s earlier saying he would join the Laguna camp on 7th May 2019 but instead stayed with O’Neill. 

Duma realising that if it went to secret ballot he would certainly lose with only 13 MPs, he instead pulled out of the race and said whichever candidate wins he would be the Deputy Prime Minister. Unknown to Marape, Duma had already struck a deal to support Pruaitch. 

While they were in a meeting I took out my laptop and ran then numbers, anticipating Duma would back Pruaitch and having pulled out of Opposition I would cast my vote for Marape. 

Marape’s 27 MPs plus my vote would mean he would poll 28, Duma 13 backing Pruaitch 26 (less me) would poll 39. 

Marape, Duma and Pruaitch returned and they announced it was agreed Duma had pulled out and there would be secret ballot between Marape and Pruaitch. Even though I knew without a doubt Marape would lose I still voted for him, reasons for which I will provide in a later article.

Following the secret ballot the results were as predicted; Pruaitch 39, Marape 28. Soon after the ballot a press conference was staged to announce that Pruaitch would be nominee for alternative Prime Minister. 

It was evident that many of Marape’s 27 MPs who voted for him were deeply disappointed. That evening we all met in Marape’s room. I witnessed Marape explain to his team he had accepted the results.

I explained to them it was not over yet, as I expected Peter O’Neill to resign on the 11th hour to dislodge the Opposition’s notice of motion of no confidence. It would mean a vacancy in the Office of Prime Minister and parties would go back into camp to elect a new Prime Minister. 

4am that morning, the Southern Highlands Members of Crown Camp contacted James Marape to join their camp after he had lost the nomination. Marape explained the only way to return would be if O’Neill resigned. Members of the Crown camp in fear of ending up in the opposition following a vote of no confidence and National Alliance Party return to power put massive pressure on O’Neill to agree to resign. 

The fact Opposition side had taken over the Parliament Committee there was no question of doubt O’Neill would be voted out of office. 

The next morning the Laguna Camp met to sign the notice of motion to lodge it with Speaker and the committee to agree to have it listed on the notice paper. 

However, when Parliament reconvened that morning O’Neill announced his resignation, Marape took his cue to acknowledge him for it. When Parliament adjourned Marape crossed the floor and exited through the Government Members back entrance. A 25 seater bus was waiting for him with his 27 Members and on his tail was William Duma and Jelta Wong. When Duma tried to enter the bus Marape stopped him and said sorry this bus is only for 28 Members who voted for me. Of course 28th Member was me, who had no idea what had transpired. Straight after Parliament adjourned I had no intention of shaking O’Neill’s hands and left through the Opposition lounge. 

In part 2 I will explain what transpired in the 24 hours that lead to Marape’s election, why I was absent and the Oppositions scheme to block Marape from being elected by nominating O’Neill and Mekere, and how it miraculously back fired and how they unashamedly tried to cover it all up.

PRIME Minister James Marape says he wants to get to work straightaway and is expected to appoint his cabinet ministers today.

After his swearing-in, Marape said there were greater challenges ahead.
He thanked MPs on both sides of the House, 90 per cent of whom have voted in his favour.

“I’m truly blessed. Members on both sides of the House responded to my nominations, showing there is a need to work in common unity,” he said.
“We will do proper diagnostic in terms of where we are in terms of the status of our economy, the status of our public service performance. Tomorrow (today), I intend to get on the business of appointing cabinet ministers very quickly. We will visit Government House again tomorrow.” He called on the support of everyone to help him.

“I don’t have all the answers for this nation. That’s what I can tell this country. I am just one man,” he said.

“The assurance I can give is that I can try my best and mobilise talents, talents from the ranks of Government, Opposition, talents from Papua new Guineans out there.”

He said his predecessor Peter O’Neill “went out as a hero”.

In their discussions on Wednesday night, O’Neill told him “you have your own identity, we will not be influencing you.”

Source: The National PNG

DPM Loughman leads delegation to 75th ESCAP Meeting

The seventy-fifth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held its meeting this year from 27th – 31st of May, 2019.

The Commission session is held annually for both the ministerial and the senior official’s level to discuss and decide on important issues pertaining to inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the Asia and the Pacific region.

This year, Vanuatu’s delegation to the 75th Session of the ESCAP was led by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and the Minister of Tourism, Commerce, Trades and Ni Vanuatu Business, Bob Loughman.

The delegation consist of the First Political Adviser to the Ministry of Trades Mr Simil Johnson; DG Roy Mickey Joy from the Ministry of Trades; Mr Albert James, Policy Auditor at the Department of Strategic Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC) Prime Minister’s Office; Mr Mathieu Hervillard, Vanuatu’s Trade Commissioner to Thailand; and Mr Sanlan William, Head of United Nations and Economic Relations Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Theme for this year’s session was, “Empowering people and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality”.

Vanuatu was privileged to be part of the different side events during the commission session, one of which was organised by the Government of Japan, ESCAP and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) to discuss on “Community empowerment and participatory policy planning to reduce tsunami and water-related Disaster risk”.

DPM Loughman and other high-level representatives from Japan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Indonesia, and the Philippines discussed failures and success in their own countries in dealing with disaster affected populations.

The Deputy Prime Minister gave Vanuatu’s perspective on the issue by emphasising that small island nations such as Vanuatu are at the “frontline of the battle against climate induced and water related disasters”.

The Deputy PM went further to reiterate that “Vanuatu and other small island countries not only dependent on climate change reduction, but also on the actions of the global community who can help build a bottom up approach to ensuring no one is left behind.”

On Monday the 14th of May, DPM Loughman delivered Vanuatu’s country statement, stressing similarities between the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), also known as 2030: The People’s Plan and the ESCAP’s theme for this year’s session and briefly highlighting some of the work Vanuatu has put in place in the areas of inclusivity & equality, education, climate change, justice and economy, keeping with this year’s ESCAP theme.

During the 75th Commission session, the Deputy Prime Minister also conducted a courtesy call to Mrs. Armida Alisjahbana, the United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, where the Executive Secretary reiterated her support for Vanuatu’s preparations for the Samoa Pathway midterm review later this year.

The delegation also stressed that despite Vanuatu’s imminent graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2020, Vanuatu still seeks to work with donor partners and the international community to ensure smooth transition particularly with issues such as trade, capacity development and diversification of production.

The 75th annual Commission Session of ESCAP was an important opportunity for Vanuatu to share experiences with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on our shared progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

news@dailypost.vu

Source: http://dailypost.vu/

Dear Editor,

Bruce Wearne asks a good question. When is Australian and New Zealand “going to get in behind Vanuatu’s advocacy of justice for West Papua”.

As secretary of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney, I write regularly to our foreign affairs department (DFAT) raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua.

In all replies there will always be the sentence, “we recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua”. It does not matter which party is in power but there are individual politicians in all parties, particularly in “The Greens” which are concerned about the situation.

There have been a number of hiccups in our relationship with Indonesia and DFAT’s policy seems to be basically not to upset Indonesia. Everybody wants to get along with their neighbours but it should not be at the expense of the West Papuan People.

One way Australia can support West Papua without incurring Indonesian criticism is to act collectively and support the call by the Pacific leaders in asking Jakarta to allow a PIF fact finding mission to West Papua.

In recent years there has been a groundswell of support throughout the Pacific region in support of the West Papuan people. Hopefully, the PIF leaders at the upcoming PIF summit in Tuvalu will continue to press Jakarta to allow a fact finding mission to the territory. They have the support of their people in doing so.

Joe Collins, Daily Post Vanuatu

AWPA (Sydney)

letters@dailypost.vu

PM Marape Announces Cabinet Caretakers

By Annette Kora – EMTV News, Port Moresby

Following the recent swearing in of Papua New Guinea’s 8th Prime Minister, James Marape yesterday at government house; earlier this evening saw a seven-man caretaker cabinet taking their oaths of office before Governor-General, Sir Bob Dadae.

These nine Members of Parliament who will be working alongside Prime Minister James Marape includes:

  • Solan Mirisim who will be caretaker Minister to Foreign Affairs, Defence, Commerce & Industry, Fisheries and Forest;
  • Richard Maru as caretaker for Finance, Petroleum & Energy, Inter-government Relations and Community Development;
  • Sam Basil as caretaker for National Planning, Health, Housing, Communication, and Information and Higher Education;
  • Johnson Tuke as caretaker for Mining, Transport, Culture & Tourism, Correctional Service and Environment Conservation & Climate Change;
  • Steven Davis is caretaker for Justice & Attorney General, Labour & Industrial Relations, Agriculture & Livestock and Lands & Physical Planning;
  • Michael Nali as caretaker for Works, Bougainville Affairs and Immigration & Border Security;
  • Charles Abel as caretaker for Treasury, Education, and Police.

The Prime Minister himself will oversee Public Service and Public Enterprise & State investments.

Prime Minister Marape says hopefully towards the end of next week, a full cabinet line-up should be announced.

The caretaker cabinet will oversee the country’s affairs until the next sitting which will be towards the end of next month where portfolios will be given to caretaker ministers soon.

Source : EMTV

Marape is PM

FORMER Finance Minister James Marape was elected Papua New Guinea’s 8th prime minister in Parliament yesterday – thumping his contender, former premier Sir Mekere Morauta, by 101 votes to eight.

After prayers at 10.30am, Speaker Job Pomat called the 109 MPs present to nominate their choice for the premiership that was vacated by Peter O’Neill on Wednesday.

Three MPs were nominated – Tari-Pori’s Marape, Ialibu-Pangia’s O’Neill and Moresby North-West’s Sir Mekere.

Pomat closed nominations and O’Neill stood to inform the House: “… I thought the Opposition did not have a candidate … I will withdraw my nomination.”
The voting was by head count and it took about 45 minutes for Pomat to declare Marape as the duly elected prime minister. He then adjourned the session to enable Marape to be sworn-in in the Government House by Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae.
The swearing-in took about 30 minutes and Marape rushed back to Parliament to deliver his 20-minute maiden premier speech.

Pomat then opened the debate to the floor and MPs were invited to deliver their congratulatory speeches that were peppered with proposals and government policies that needed Marape’s swift attention.

Pomat then adjourned Parliament session to June 25.

As Marape walked out of the House, MPs took the opportunity to shake hands and to hug the new premier.

The Government team, including Marape’s group, arrived in six buses at around 9.50am and entered the chamber from the ground floor of the Prime Minister’s entry.

The Opposition arrived at 9.30am.

Peter O’Neill took his chair at 9.39 am while Marape sat next to Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel.

At 10.38, Speaker Job Pomat entered and asked Mul Baiyer MP Koi Traipe to lead them in a prayer.

At 10.45am, the Speaker asked for nominations.
Madang MP Bryan Kramer abstained from voting.

Source: The National PNG

O’Neill did more for PNG then other Prime Ministers would do, say PNG Trade Union

PNG Trade Union Congress president John Paska has applauded former prime minister Peter O’Neill for his leadership.

“Whether you were a fan or not there’s no denying his list of achievements. These included free education, improved health services, roll out of major infrastructure projects and housing for public servants,”

Mr Paska said in a statement yesterday.

“At the foreign policy level, he staged the successful APEC, South Pacific Games and Under 21 Women’s World Cup soccer and showcased the nation to the world.

“He broke away from enormous pressure to keep minimum wages down and brought on improvements to the national minimum wages for workers of PNG. This decision improved demand by a massive K700 million which remains on shore as workers spend all of it in the local economy.

“A matter that stuck out like a sore thumb was the UBS loan.

This is most unfortunate as the upside of this was completely overlooked as opponents focused more on allegations of impropriety without assessing the positive outcomes brought on by the two LNG projects which he presided over.

“The acquisition of Ok Tedi by landowners and the State was done at the behest of Prime Minister O’Neill.

Landowner equity is the largest in PNG at OK Tedi and Bougainville,” Mr Paska said.

“The list is long but the point is made. In the space of time, Mr O’Neill accomplished more than what many prime ministers would do in a life time.

“It required bold (and) no-nonsense leadership which he provided.

“Prime Minister O’Neill would appropriately go down as perhaps the most daring, visionary and progressive Prime Minister PNG has had.”

Mr Paska said that workers salute him for his understanding of the issues that confront them and for being there for them.

Source: https://www.onepng.com/

Residents, Business Houses and Diplomatic Corps Assured PNG Capital Covered CCTV

MEDIA RELEASE
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2019

PORT MORESBY: City dwellers, diplomatic corps and business houses have been assured the city is already covered by closed-circuit television (CCTV) which can improve safety and security to higher standards and reduce crimes by 80 percent.

National Capital District Governor, Powes Parkop confidently gave the assurance after being briefed about the capacity of the Royal PNG Constabulary-owned CCTV Control Centre at the Oakley Haus in Hohola, one of the legacies of APEC Leaders’ Summit.

“Our city is already covered by CCTV. It is almost 100 percent. It can go very local and specific. It can get images of individuals. This setup cost us K42 million,” he told reporters after the briefing with the police on Friday, May 24, 2019.

He said the long range cameras can track down activities at roundabouts and even markets, citing petty crime hotspots like Badili, 2-Mile, Koki, Gordons and others.

Governor Parkop said the Commission’s areas of concern are betelnut vending and spittle, and graffiti amongst others, whilst the Central and Metropolitan Command’s are bigger crimes.

He is warning parents to take responsibility over their children who are engaged in vandalising private and public properties with spray paints as they will be caught using the CCTV capabilities.

Parkop also extended the warning to street and betelnut vendors and chewers, saying once the magisterial stream and police prosecution unit are dedicated to the Commission, they will be prosecuted.

He urged them to change their behaviour to be on the safe side.

He thanked the APEC Secretariat for handing over the facility to the police so that NCDC reservists can work in collaboration with them to clamp down criminals and illegal vendors.

Parkop continued that it worked well for many cities around the world and that he is reaffirmed that everything done in the city will be under the watch of CCTV.

Despite the challenges, he further stated that the facility is being worked on to full capacity.

He also thanked the Metropolitan Superintendent, Perou N’Dranou and the Police Commissioner Gary Baki for working with the Commission now after four years of futile attempts.

Mr N’Dranou said now that they have the system in place, they need to work together.

“Our communication operation from Boroko was here one week. The general public can call us now on 3249900 to report crimes or any other offences committed in the city. I am grateful our governor and the Commission are working with us to address security and safety in the city.”

APPROVED FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

……………………………………………………..
HON. POWES PARKOP, LLB, LLM, MP
Governor for NCD

Picture caption: (Left to Right) Executives of Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peter Goodwin and Rio Fiocco, Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’Dranou, Governor Parkop and City Manager Bernard Kipit inside the CCTV control centre at Hohola.

There is Nothing ‘Neo’ about the Colonialization of West Papua

Source: https://intercontinentalcry.org/

Last month, a small group of West Papuan prisoners attempted to escape Indonesia’s Abepura prison before being caught and brutally tortured. In the end, two men, Maikel Ilinmaton and Selyus Logo, were killed and eight others were hospitalized in critical condition. This level of brutality has been a common occurrence in West Papua for decades, which the Indonesia government makes sure the world doesn’t see.

West Papua has been under non-stop military occupation by Indonesia since 1969. On August 2, 1969, 1,026 Indigenous West Papuans were held at gunpoint and forced to vote for Indonesian rule. Ironically, the process of colonization was facilitated by the United Nations and called an ‘Act of Free Choice’. This travesty is now known by West Papuans as the ‘Act of No Choice’ – which is both an accurate description of what occurred and a rallying cry for the independence movement demanding actual free choice in determining who their sovereign power will be.

The U.N. claims there are only 17 Non-Self-Governing-Territories in the world– a diplomatic way to refer to colonized peoples. The U.N. classification excludes West Papua, pretending that the problem of colonialism was settled back in 1969 when West Papuans voted to join the Indonesian state – as if people would freely vote against their own self-determination. This ongoing erasure of Indigenous peoples and their fights for sovereignty is not unique to West Papua – instead it is symptomatic of the ongoing global colonial agenda to silence and eliminate Indigenous peoples.

Colonialism and neocolonialism can be difficult to identify to the untrained eye. While both structures are practices of economic, political, and social domination over another people, they differ in practice. Colonialism is an explicitly violent process of extermination, assimilation, and physical occupation of the lands of another people. Neocolonialism is a master of disguise that hides behind the cloak ‘economic development’, aide provided to countries in distress, foreign land acquisition by transnational corporations, and other fabrics that can’t be easily identified.

But in the case of West Papua, blatant colonialism is easy enough to spot. The Indigenous peoples of West Papua were not consulted in who would be their sovereign power. They have been massacred for decades by the Indonesian army, who used the most brutal means to justify its ends: to control the colonized. West Papuans have been forced from their ancestral lands to create space for agribusiness to move in and reshape the island to serve as the ‘Food Basket’ of Indonesia.

THE FIGHT FOR WEST PAPUAN INDEPENDENCE

The Indigenous peoples of West Papua – which includes the Armung, the Asmat, the Bauzi, the Dani, the Ekari, the Fayu, the Kombai, the Koteka, the Korowai, the Lani, the Marind, the Mek, the Moni, the Sawi, the Wolamni, and the Yali among other nations– have been fighting for self-determination and independence from Indonesia for the last 50 years. Resistance occurs both through non-violence tactics and armed resistance.

Non-violent tactics, currently led by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) have included the raising of the Morning Star Flag, petitions for another independence referendum, the boycott of elections, and protests against multinational corporations developing extractive industries and destructive infrastructurethroughout West Papua.

An August 2, 2012 rally led by the KNPB in Wamena. Photo: Martin Pelcher

The Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) are the two well-known guerilla military operations fighting back against the violence wrought by the Indonesian Army. The Indonesian state claims all attacks by the freedom fighters are unprovoked acts of terrorism against innocent civilians causing needless violence and death that would not be taking place otherwise.

What Indonesia so conveniently fails to mention is the genocide they have wreaked on the Indigenous peoples of West Papua for the last 50 years that has claimed upwards of 500,000 lives while raping, torturing, imprisoning, and disappearing countless more. Over time, it has become clear that resistance is not a choice for the people of West Papua – it is their only chance for survival.

West Papuan independence is fought by all peoples in the name of self-determination and the safety that will provide – but will West Papuan governance actually mean safety for all?

SELF DETERMINATION OF WEST PAPUAN WOMEN

report from 2012 authored by the Documentation Working Group on Violence and Human Rights Violations Against Papuan Women (2009-2010) heard stories from 128 victims of state violence (murder, disappearance, detention, torture, rape, slavery, etc) and 98 victims of domestic violence (economic neglect, non-sexual violence, rape of child, forced marriage, marital rape, contraction of HIV/AIDS, etc).

The reality for women fighting for independence in West Papua is they must fight two simultaneous battles: an external battle against the Indonesian state and an internal battle against patriarchy within the independence movement and their own communities.

In the 1980s, women like Johana Regina Rumadas, Elsye Ayamseba, Dorcas Hanasbey, and Greet Jolmend founded the Working Group on Women (KKW) which worked to empower women and help them to achieve greater access and success within the economic and social spheres of society.

In 1997, riding the wave of social and electoral reform in West Papua at the time, women became more outspoken on the issue of violence against women. Women activists worked with organizations like the Women’s Health Network in Eastern Indonesia (JKPIT) to connect violence against women with the broader narrative of human rights violations in West Papua and Indonesian attacks on the land as one story of colonial extractivism in all facets of West Papuan lives.

Source: Komnas Perempuan, 2009.

The 2000s found West Papuan women fighting for involvement and representation in the Great Council of Indigenous People of Papua. They also founded the Mamta Alliance of Papuan Women (Mamta APP) which held the Annual Conference of Papuan Women – an event focused on raising awareness on issues like violence against women and gender justice. Outside of the political sphere, women worked to create communities that supported survivors of violence via counseling, prayer, and the development of solidarity.

And yet, despite its façade of public support of decolonization and women’s rights, the UN has done nothing for West Papua. The UN blocked Benny Wenda, and exiled Papuan leader, from presenting a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans (70% of the population) that demanded an uncoerced referendum on independence back in 2017. In January of 2019 the nation of Vanuatu helped Wenda deliver the petition to Michelle Bachelet, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, who continued to follow the company line: West Papua is part of Indonesia, it is not a colony, and thus the issue was closed in 1969 and that decision stands today.

Of course, this has not stopped the fight for independence. Most recently, multiple court cases have been filed by West Papuans against the Indonesian state. The National Committee for West Papua (KNBP) is suing the Indonesian police for $100,000 in damages to their headquarters following a raid on December 31, 2018. A second group is fighting for a judicial review of the ‘Act of No Choice’ in an attempt to create a legal precedent to delegitimize the Indonesian claim to West Papua.

COLONIAL COMPLICITY AT THE UN

All of these different methods of resistance have contributed to a rising international awareness of the West Papuan fight for independence. In a world full of neocolonial structures that are difficult to oppose because of their inherently hidden agenda, West Papua is the red herring of the UN colonial agenda.

The U.N. talks a good game with its promotion of women and girl’s rights internationally, but as long as the United Nations denies that West Papua is a colonized state, they are actively supporting colonial systems of power that brutally repress and subjugate women on a global scale. While Indonesia is able to get away with blatant genocide and military occupation, the U.N. is complicit in every murder, assault, rape, disappearance, torture, and violation of any and every West Papuan.

The first step towards ending neo/colonialism is to end the most blatantly violent and dangerous manifestations of it. You can join the fight for West Papuan independence at Free West Papua. You too can raise the Morning Star Flag, and stay up to date on the fight for independence by following @FreeWestPapua and #FreeWestPapua.

Each of us has a choice on whether or not to be complicit in the global project of colonialism.

Choose resistance.

Choose West Papua.HELP US SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT!Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it’s our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources – and we’re up against a constant tide of distorted news and misinformation. By supporting IC, you’re empowering the kind of journalism we all need, at the moment we need it most.

Waffling on West Papua

Vanuatu Daily PostDuring his visit to Port Vila last weekend, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was confronted with questions about West Papua. The matter was on the agenda during a bilateral meeting held between Mr Guterres and key Government officials, including Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Foreign Affairs Minister Ralph Regenvanu.

5ce4693516e16.image
Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu (background) and UN Secretary General Anotnio Guterres during a visit to Port Vila’s seafront. Mr Regenvanu confirmed that he had raised the issue of West Papua during a bilateral meeting, but little seems to have come from it.

In a joint press conference, Mr Salwai was unequivocal about Vanuatu’s continued commitment to support and help drive the decolonisation process globally, and especially in West Papua.

The UN head did little more than acknowledge the PM’s words in his own prepared remarks.

Mr Guterres also responded to questions on the topic from the media. The following exchange occurred during an interview with Agence France Presse. He had little more to offer there.

The most serious deforestation, the most serious ecological trouble, as well as the most serious human rights abuses in the whole Pacific are happening in West Papua, the interviewer said. Shouldn’t the UN be doing more to try and stop the human right abuses, and the ecological disaster that is unfolding there?

Mr Guterres did little to raise expectations of a resolution to this crisis any time soon.

“There is a framework in the institutions, namely the human rights council… there are special procedures, there was a panel, That recently made a report on those issues, a report that was then presented internationally. Indonesia also responded. So the UN is doing its job, with a major concern that there and everywhere, human rights are respected.”

The problem is, he was told, that Indonesia is blocking Pacific island delegations, and they also appear to be blocking the UN Human Rights Commission from visiting West Papua. At the moment, all international media is banned. Again, shouldn’t the UN be doing more to open up West Papua?

The Secretary General appeared to grant that there were indeed concerns about access to the area.

“The Human Rights High Commissioner has reaffirmed availability to visit the territory, and that remains our concern, and our objective.”

So, if Indonesia says no, he was asked, there’s nothing anyone can do, even the UN?

“As I said, we had the institutions working, we have a panel of experts, but there are also from our side strong commitments there and everywhere.”

Little evidence of those commitments was on display in Port Vila.