Pro-Independence Kanaky group itself is a member of Melanesian Spearhead Group

Compiled by Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 14, 2016) – The Spokesperson of the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) in Kanaky, Victor Tutugoro, yesterday morning re-affirmed his strong support for West Papua to become full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) during the Honiara MSG Leaders’ Summit.

The FLNKS Spokesperson stated this when meeting the Chairman of Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Pastor Alan Nafuki.

Nafuki assured the FLNKS of Vanuatu’s stand by the churches, the chiefs and the population for the political freedom of the Melanesian people of West Papua and said the Association has already sent its three representatives to Honiara to observe the MSG Leaders Summit.

Mr Tutugoro went in the same flight of Air Niugini yesterday morning with Vanuatu Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, to attend the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders’ Summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The Kanaky leader arrived in Port Vila last Sunday night from Noumea.

On Monday he met the Vanuatu Prime Minister and on Tuesday paid courtesy calls on State Ministers including Agriculture.

Mr. Tutugoro also took the opportunity to visit the Lycee Louis Antoine de Bouganville and Vanuatu Institute of Technology.

Both Vanuatu learning institutions receive funding assistance from the Northern Province of New Caledonia following Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015.

On Tuesday evening a special kava ceremony was organized, a gesture of appreciation to the FLNKS Spokesperson Victor Tutugoro, by the Vanuatu Institute of Technology.

The FLNKS did not sign the Communique following the visit of MSG Leaders in West Papua and Indonesia after the Summit that was held in Kanaky.

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PM Makes Case For West Papua, Closer Relations
by Voreqe Bainimarama, SOLOMON ISLANDSJune 28
Prime Minister, Honorable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
Prime Minister, Honorable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama


Leaders’ plenary statement – Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit, Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The Chairman, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Government of the Solomon Islands,

Hon. Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of the Government of Papua New Guinea, Hon. Sato Kilman, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu, Victor Tutugoro, the chairman and spokesperson of the FLNKS, Foreign Ministers, Excellencies, director general and Members of the MSG secretariat, senior officials, ladies and gentlemen,

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Mr Chairman,

– At the outset, I want to congratulate the Government of the Solomon Islands for assuming the Chairmanship of the MSG and your role in Chairing our Leader’s Summit. You have already demonstrated – in recent days – a strong sense of judgement and purpose.

And I am confident that under your leadership over the next two years, we will be able to effectively achieve our collective goals for the benefit of all our peoples.

I assure you of my own Government’s full co-operation and support.

– I also express my sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of the Solomon Islands for the wonderful way in which they have hosted our gathering and for the many courtesies accorded to my delegation.

– I also thank the outgoing chairman Victor Tutugoro and FLNKS for their leadership over the past two years.

The progress of the people of New Caledonia under the Noumea Accords forms part of our final communiqué. And Fiji commends you for the inclusive and collaborative way in which the FLNKS has worked to produce an outcome in 2018 that benefits every citizen.

– Mr chairman, my fellow leaders, our final communiqué is a testament to the way in which we have all worked in a positive manner this week to advance the cause of our organisation and the position of all Melanesians.

We have faced some difficult challenges in reaching a consensus on some of these issues.

But I want to commend you all on behalf of the Fijian people for approaching these challenges in an atmosphere of co-operation and goodwill. Some difficult choices have had to be made. Some fine balances have had to be reached.

But we conclude this gathering having confronted those challenges head on.

And we have made decisions that are ultimately in the best interests of the Melanesian people as a whole.

Choices that we genuinely believe are most likely to produce positive outcomes for the greatest number of our people and for the common good.

– The most testing choices we faced this week related to the issue of West Papua.

But we needed to be mindful of one thing and one thing alone.

Which course of action is most likely to achieve a positive outcome for the people of West Papua as a whole.

To improve their lives. To give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And in the case of the MSG, to bring them closer into the Melanesian family.

– As our final communiqué details, we have elevated the sovereign power in West Papua – Indonesia – to Associate Member of the MSG.

And we have also opened the door for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to join us as an observer.

In doing so, Fiji believes we are acting in the best interests of the people in West Papua, as well as maintaining the integrity of the principles on which the MSG was founded and that we must always uphold.

– For our part, Fiji has been guided by a number of overriding principles in approaching the West Papua issue.

The first and foremost of these is that Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua cannot be questioned.

The province is an integral part of Indonesia.

So that when we deal with West Papua and its people, the MSG has no choice but to deal with Indonesia and in a positive and constructive manner.

– Furthermore, we are convinced that the best hope for improving the lives of the people of West Papua – our fellow Melanesians – is to work closely with the Indonesian Government.

To provide encouragement and support in an atmosphere of co-operation and friendship. To encourage it in its current program to govern West Papua in an inclusive and enlightened manner.

We cannot erase the history of West Papua and some of the negative aspects of that history, which we acknowledge include significant human rights violations.

But the Indonesia that presided over those excesses is not the Indonesia we know today. It is now one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. And at a national level, Indonesia is also committed to righting some of the wrongs of the past and placing West Papua on a new course.

– I want to commend the Indonesian President and his Government for the steps they are taking to improve conditions in West Papua for its Melanesian population.

The Indonesian Government recognises the need to do so and the President has personally committed himself to this issue.

So it is incumbent on the MSG countries to
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From page 19

support him in this effort and engage with Indonesia on West Papua in a positive and constructive manner.

– From Fiji’s perspective, the best way to achieve this is to bring Indonesia closer into the workings of the MSG.

Which is why we have supported elevating Indonesia from observer status to Associate Member.

By strengthening our engagement as an organisation with Indonesia, we are also strengthening our joint co-operation on issues relating to West Papua.

And strengthening our own engagement with the West Papuans themselves – the elected representatives of the Melanesian people within the Indonesian democracy.

Fiji is convinced that this is not only the best way to improve the situation for our Melanesi-

an brothers and sisters in West Papua. It is the only way.

– Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders. At the same time, we also hope that as time progresses, those West Papuans who are outside Indonesia can also become part of that engagement.

We acknowledge that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua represents a significant body of opinion in the West Papuan diaspora and also has the welfare of the West Papuan people at heart.

So it is also in the interests of everyone that they also be brought into the process.

– The ULMWP has now been granted observer status at the MSG.

This may be a disappointment to those who were hoping for full membership.

But our rules of membership made that impossible.

The ULMWP is not the sovereign power in West Papua.

It is an external, non government organisation that may represent West Papuan interests and opinion.

But the MSG simply could not give it the status it desired without compromising a fundamental principal.

That non-government organisations cannot have the same status as governments in our organisation.

– I appeal to the ULMWP not to regard this as a defeat but an opportunity.

You have now been brought into the fold.

Use this privilege to also work with us for the betterment of every West Papuan.

Working together – Indonesia, the MSG countries and the West Papuan diaspora – we can achieve much better outcomes for the West Papuan people.

Let us turn our backs on the years of killing, hatred and suspicion and work towards a new era – one of engagement, co-operation and collaboration between all the parties to achieve a better outcome for the people of West Papua.

It is the best way to improve their circumstances. It is the only way.

-Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders. For Fiji, the issue of climate change is of singular importance.

As you all know, every Pacific country is affected in one way or another.

And in the case of three nations – Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands – their very existence is threatened by the rising seas.

We have our opportunity later this year to get the industrialised nations to finally sign up to the dramatic cuts in carbon emissions that the scientists say are needed to avert catastrophe. And it is an opportunity that we must all take.

– Fiji intends to work with its Pacific neighbours to lead the charge at the World Climate Summit in Paris at the end of November.

This issue, of course, has been at the heart of our deliberations this week.

But I want to again urge you all – my fellow Melanesian leaders – to join me in a concerted effort to make the world finally sit up and take notice.

The time for talking on climate change is over.

The time for radical action is now. And we must all make sure that the entire world recognises this seminal issue for our wellbeing and survival in the Pacific and finally take the necessary action.

– We have less than six months to get this crisis – from our perspective – on the global agenda.

And I urge you all to put it at the top of your own agendas and make your own voices heard. Loudly.

Fiji wants to work with you all to coordinate our planning for the Paris summit.

And while we are still to gain the appropriate attention of some of our bigger neighbours – notably Australia – we have solid support across the world from others such as the member countries of the European Union.

– It is not only the rising sea levels that are already threatening our communities.

It is the extreme weather events that are accompanying global warming.

We have all suffered from these to a greater or lesser extent.

And our hearts go out to the people of Vanuatu, in particular, for the recent suffering they have endured because of Cyclone Pam.

We have rightly sent our collective sympathy to the Ni-Vanuatu this week. Fiji, for one, has been proud to be part of the relief effort and we will continue to assist Vanuatu in its valiant effort to recover from this terrible disaster.

– As we have discussed this week, we must all intensify our efforts in the area of climate change resilience at the same time as we try to persuade the global community to act.

Fiji is making resilience a national priority.

And those efforts are already showing clear signs of paying off.

These cyclones, of course, are events over which we have no control. But we can control our responses to any onslaught.

Our national disaster plans need to be increasingly sophisticated. We need effective close coordination between the various arms of state, our civil society organisations and ordinary citizens.

But by working together, we can definitely reduce the impact on our people of these terrible events.

We thank God in Fiji that when we were hit by Tropical Cyclone Evan two years ago, we suffered no loss of life. But it was not only the hand of God that spared us. It was proper planning. And Fiji stands ready to assist you all if you would like to learn from aspects of our experience.

– Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders, the measures to promote business activity and co-operation between the private sectors within the MSG countries is an important part of our final communiqué.

The meeting of MSG Finance Ministers that concluded in Nadi, Fiji, yesterday was a great success.

And I urge you all as leaders to encourage this growing engagement between our various governments at an economic and financial level for the benefit of all our peoples. As Melanesian countries, we will always need our development partners to join us in our effort to improve the lives of our people.

But we can also do a lot more to help ourselves. And this growing engagement between our Finance Ministers and the economic apparatus of government is a hugely positive thing.

– The same applies to the growing engagement between our respective private sectors.

Trade between the MSG countries has never been so healthy. But there remain significant opportunities that are yet to be fully exploited. And anything we can do as leaders to encourage trade links should also be at the top of our list of priorities.

– Mr Chairman, my fellow leaders, I want to close by paying tribute to the resilience of our member countries and the resilience of our unique organisation.

Since we last met, successful national elections have been conducted in Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and, of course, in Fiji.

We are extremely proud – in my own country – about the peaceful and successful conduct of our own election last September that introduced the first genuine democracy in Fiji’s history of one man, one vote, one value.

This election was endorsed as credible and free by a multinational group of observers led by Indonesia, India and Australia.

And it has heralded in an unprecedented era of prosperity and optimism in Fiji.

– Our economy is currently in the throes of the most sustained period of growth since Independence 45 years ago.

And in the past three years, we have attained annual growth rates of four per cent or more.

So Fiji is on the move. Fiji is open for business. And I urge you all to take advantage of the opportunities that presents for your own private sectors in terms of trade and investment.

– The lesson for all of us is this: That with national unity, a sense of purpose, good governance and equality, opportunity and substantive justice for all, nothing is impossible, even for small nations such as our own.

– Mr chairman, my fellow leaders, we end this gathering on an extremely positive note.

Our organisation may have its challenges and we have had some very testing moments this week.

But we are more cohesive, more united and more determined than ever to work together to improve the lives of Melanesian people everywhere. We welcome both Indonesia and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua in their new roles in our organization.

And we pledge to work with them not only to improve the position of the people of West Papua but every citizen in the MSG countries.

– We also pledge to redouble our efforts in those other areas of concern to all of us – trade, the free movement of people across our borders and our collective response to the challenges of terrorism, to name but a few.

While the West Papua issue may have grabbed most of the headlines, this has not been a “one issue” summit and all of these other matters we discussed are of vital important to the collective security and wellbeing of Melanesians everywhere.

– Mr chairman, my fellow leaders, thank you again for your cooperation, collaboration and friendship.

Thank you again to you, Mr Chairman, and the people of Solomon Islands for your wonderful welcome and the friendship you have extended to all of us.

We leave Honiara with some wonderful memories and I look forward to seeing you all again.

Vinaka vakalevu and Tank iu


UN and Jakarta focus on Papua rights abuses
 Solomon Islands’ diplomat in Geneva has told the UN Human Rights Council’s 32nd session about an eroding human rights situation in Indonesia’s Papua region.
West Papuan demonstrators tightly monitored by Indonesian police.
West Papuan demonstrators tightly monitored by Indonesian police. Photo: Whens Tebay

Barrett Salato told the session that whilst his country welcomes increased attention on West Papua from Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, violations of Papuans’ rights remain unresolved.

Mr Salato said his government received regular reports from Papua of arbitrary arrests, summary execution, torture, restriction of freedom of expression, assembly and association, committed mainly by Indonesian police.

After the session, he said it was important to raise the issue globally.

“It will give the international commmunity some awareness about what’s going on (in Papua),” he said.

“Not much information goes out to the international commmunity about what’s happening so we take it here to the right body of the UN to raise the voices of our fellow human beings that does not have a voice in the human rights council.”

West Papua was singled out for attention at the session by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai.

He said what is occurring in Papua was a phenomenon connected with cultural fundamentalism and nationalism seen in other parts of the world.

“In each case, the superiority has triggered the process of dehumanization or delegitimizing of particular groups,” said Mr Kiai in his report.

A large peaceful demonstration in Jayapura in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Since April, a series of large demonstrations in West Papua in support of Papuan self-determination rights have resulted in an estimated four thousand Papuans being arrested. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

Barrett Salato pointed out to the Council session that on 2 May 2016 alone, over 2000 West Papuans were arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations in several cities in Papua and eastern Indonesian cities.

“We would encourage the government of Indonesia to find peaceful and sustainable solution of the on-going conflict in West Papua through constructive engagement with the representatives of the West Papuans and respect their right as a people,” he said.

MSG focus on Papuan rights

Solomon Islands is currently occupying the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. In this capacity it has been pushing for increased engagement with Indonesia’s government over the situation in West Papua.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua was granted observer status at the MSG last year and is seeking full membership in the group, with a decision to be made at an upcoming MSG leaders summit in Honiara next month.

Solomons PM Manaseh Sogavare and leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)
Solomons PM Manaseh Sogavare and leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Photo: Facebook

Indonesia, which has associate member status in the MSG, has been opposed to greater representation within the group by the ULMWP.

Indonesia’s delegate at last week’s MSG Foreign Ministers meeting in Fiji was reportedly unhappy about having to sit alonside the Liberation Movement representative for discussions.

The Solomons government, however, was upbeat about the impact of getting Indonesians and West Papuans together at the same table.

The MSG Foreign Ministers meeting concluded with agreement to establish a Committee of High Level Representatives of MSG members to facilitate constructive engagement between Jakarta and West Papuans as concernd parties on the issues of rights abuses against Papuans.

Jakarta establishes team to address Papuan rights abuses

Indonesia’s government has been making efforts to respond to the ongoing international concern about rights abuses in West Papua.

While the UN Human Rights Council was discussing Papua in Geneva, Jakarta has been pushing ahead with the establishment of a team tasked with addressing a number of cases of human rights abuses in Papua region.

Indonesia's Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security, Luhut Pandjaitan.
Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security, Luhut Pandjaitan. Photo: AFP

The team is being created under the watch of the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, who has invited regional monitoring for the team’s inception.

Mr Luhut told media the team would consist of the chairmen of both National and Provincial Human Rights Commissions and several human rights commissionaires.

But Papua’s Governor Lucas Enembe and various Papuan civil society figures have voiced concern that the team would not be independent and would be restricted in its scope.

RNZI's Johnny Blades and Koroi Hawkins interview the Governor of Papua Province Lukas Enembe.
Papua’s Governor Lucas Enembe (left) says human rights abuses in Papua should be resolved according to Papuan custom.Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

Jakarta is under increasing pressure to be transparent about its efforts in Papua.

According to Barrett Salato, the Solomons would continue to urge Jakarta to accept MSG and Pacific Islands Forum fact-finding missions to Papua, and open up Papua to international access.

“Journalists working on human rights are still prevented to have free and full access to do their work in West Papua,” he said.

“Our delegation is convinced that access of international community to West Papua, particularly to UN Special Procedure, will provide an opportunity to improve the human rights situation.”

OPINION: MSG, West Papua Now It’s Down To The Wire

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, originally from the Solomon Islands, is an associate professor at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai’i. The views expressed here are his personal opinions.

West Papua will be the most high profile issue at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) leaders’ summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on 24–26 June 2015.

The MSG leaders will decide on the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s (ULMWP) application for membership of the MSG. This is an organisation consisting of the four Melanesian countries – Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji – and New Caledonia’s pro-Independence movement, the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS).

If they admit the ULMWP, it could boost the pro-independence movement’s push for self-determination and provide an international venue to highlight the Indonesian Government’s human rights violations in West Papua. But, it could also have negative impacts on the Melanesian countries’ relations with Indonesia. This will be particularly worrying for PNG and Fiji that have growing economic, political and military partnerships with Jakarta. It could also setback Indonesia’s bid to pose itself as an emerging Asia-Pacific power.

On the other hand, if the MSG leaders deny the ULMWP membership, it could widen the rift between MSG countries. It could also redefine Melanesia, blur the cultural and political divisions between Oceania and Southeast Asia, and see a Melanesian sub-region dominated by Indonesia.

The MSG leaders are therefore faced with the difficult task of balancing, on one hand, their moral obligation to support Melanesians in West Papua, and on the other hand, respecting Indonesia’s sovereignty and maintaining their growing political and economic relations with this emerging Southeast Asian power.


Second time

This will be the second time West Papua’s pro-independence movements bid for MSG membership. The first was in October 2013 when an application by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) was unsuccessful.

Part of the reason was concerns that

WPNCL did not represent all the pro-independence groups in West Papua. Since then, the West Papuans have formed the ULMWP, which they claim is more representative.

It was also because of intense lobbying by Indonesia, which has an observer status on the MSG.

In January 2014, Jakarta invited the MSG Foreign Ministers to visit Indonesia and “witness first-hand conditions in West Papua.”

The mission was headed the Fiji’s Foreign Minister, but boycotted by Vanuatu whose Foreign Minister argued, “the visit would only talk with the Indonesians and do business with the Indonesians, it had nothing to do with West Papua.” Indeed, the MSG Foreign Ministers were given only fleeting and restricted visits to Jakarta, Bali and West Papua.


MSG split

This time, it seems there will again be a split in the MSG. Vanuatu and the FLNKS are likely to support West Papua’s bid for membership.

Vanuatu has always been a firm supporter of West Papuan independence and the FLNKS is sympathetic, given its own struggles for independence from France. But, the change of government in Port Vila last week and the election of Sato Kilman as Prime Minister casts doubts on how Vanuatu will vote. Kilman had earlier been sacked as Foreign Minister because “he misrepresented Vanuatu’s position over the West Papua issue.”

Solomon Islands has not made a firm commitment. Instead, Foreign Minister, Milner Tozaka, states that the Solomon Islands Government will “. . . go along with a united MSG stand.”

It is unclear what this means. But, it is indicative of the fact that Solomon Islands has never been decisive on the West Papua issue, choosing instead the shroud of vague diplomatic language. But, it also means that Solomon Islands could hold the balance in the MSG’s decision on West Papua’s application for membership.


Leading role

Interestingly, Solomon Islands played a leading role in pushing for French Polynesia to be re-enlisted on the UN’s Decolonization list.

During the UN General Assembly meeting in May 2013, the Solomon Islands’ Ambassador to the UN, Collin Beck, introduced the resolution, supported by Nauru, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and East Timor.

Beck told the UN General Assembly there was “wide international support” for putting French Polynesia back on the list and that, “The map of decolonizing remains an unfinished business of the United Nations.”

Yet, Solomon Islands is reluctant to support West Papua’s application for membership of the MSG.

Fiji and PNG will likely vote against ULMWP membership, or attempt to water down West Papua’s participation in efforts to save their relations with Indonesia. They prefer “non-interference” in Indonesia’s sovereign affairs, citing West Papua as a domestic issue.

PNG shares a border with Indonesia/West Papua.

And although it is directly affected by the conflicts in West Papua, has always been reluctant to speak out against Indonesian occupation.

In October 1986, PNG signed the “Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship, and Cooperation” with Indonesia, which frames the relationship between the two countries.

In 1988, PNG’s then Foreign Minister, Akoka Doi, said that Port Moresby recognizes West Papua as “an integral part of Indonesia.” It was, in his words, a “mistake done by the colonial powers so let it stay as it is.”

But, more recently, it seems opinions in the haus tambaran in Waigani have changed.

In February, in a carefully crafted statement, PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, expressed concern about Indonesia’s human rights abuses in West Papua. He states, “. . . the time has come for us to speak about [the] oppression [of] our people.

Pictures of brutality of our people appear daily on social media and yet we take no notice. We have the moral obligation to speak for those who are not allowed to talk. We must be the eyes for those who are blindfolded.

Again, Papua New Guinea, as a regional leader, we must lead these discussions with our friends in a mature and engaging manner.” This was, to date, his strongest statement on the issue, referring to the Melanesian West Papuans as “our family,” “our brothers and sisters,” and “our people.”

But, in March, O’Neill told a gathering at the Lowey Institute in Sydney that he prefers that West Papua’s Provincial Governors represent West Papua at the MSG.

In other words, he wants Indonesian government representatives to be the mouthpiece for West Papua at the MSG.


Fiji Government stance

The Fiji Government has never been an advocator for West Papua.

It joined the MSG in 1998; a decade after the MSG was conceived in 1983 and formalized in March 1988 with the signing of the “Agreed Principles for Cooperation.” Fiji joined mainly because it saw the potential benefits from the MSG Trade Agreement that PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu signed in 1993.

Its first engagement with the MSG was at the Trade and Economic Officials’ Meeting in Honiara in April 1997. It could therefore be argued that Fiji’s membership of the MSG was driven largely by economic imperatives, rather than concerns for human rights and self-determination.

In contrast, Fiji has a longer history of flirting with Indonesia. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1974, but became actively engaged in the late 1980s. Following Fiji’s first coup, and as a result of being marginalized by traditional allies, the Sitiveni Rabuka-led government turned to Jakarta. In November 1987, a eight-member Indonesian trade mission arrived in Suva and held talks with the then Foreign Minister, Filipe Bole, offering Fiji up to 25,000 tons of rice on credit and special financial facilities, as a “goodwill gesture.” Along with that, the then Indonesian military boss, General Benny Murdani, expressed interests in forging military cooperation with Fiji.

The current Fijian Government continues the strong tie with Indonesia.

In May 2011 Suva and Jakarta signed a Development Cooperation Agreement (DCA) that covers a wide range of sectors, including Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, Forestry, Trade & Investments, Education, Legal & Judicial Sector, Defense, Police, Tourism etc.

In March 2015, the Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, met his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, in Nadi to discuss enhancing trade cooperation in fisheries, agriculture processing and in the marketing of their various products. While Indonesia is presently not Fiji’s largest trading partner, the value of trade between the two countries is significant.

It was Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, who pushed for Indonesia to become an observer on the MSG in 2011. Last month, he proposed that Indonesia be made an associate member of the MSG, adding that “Papua comes under the governance of Indonesia and if you want to do anything in Papua, the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia, no matter what, if we bring in Papua separately, it doesn’t make sense.”

Bainimarama’s statement conveniently ignores the fraudulent processes that led to Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua, including the US-brokered New York Agreement of August 1962 that facilitated the Netherland’s handover of West Papua to Indonesia. It also ignores the questionable 1969 Act of Free Choice and the human rights abuses and atrocities that Indonesia committed in the past fifty years, including the killing of about 500,000 Melanesian West Papuans.

Given its relationship with Indonesia, it is unlikely Fiji will support West Papua’s application for MSG membership. Fiji’s policy on this issue is driven by economic imperatives, rather than moral obligations. Bainimarama will use this MSG summit to seek endorsement for Fiji’s political agendas, including its attempts to expel Australia and New Zealand as members of the Pacific Islands Forum, making them participate only as donor partners.

As the MSG prepares to discuss West Papua’s application for membership, one could ask: Why should West Papua be given MSG membership? Will MSG membership help address West Papua’s issues? How can the MSG countries address the West Papua issue while maintaining cordial relationships with Indonesia? There is no space here to answer these questions. But, in seeking answers, three issues are pertinent.


Sovereignty issue

First, it is important to note that sovereignty is not absolute. In the past two decades, we have seen an increase in international interventions in situations where human rights have been violated and atrocities committed.

The reasons for and nature of interventions vary, but there is definitely an international willingness to “infringe” Westphalian notions of sovereignty in order to hold states accountable to universal principles.

We have seen this from East Timor to Kosovo, from Sierra Leone to Sudan, and from Angola to Afghanistan. On the other hand, the case of Rwanda demonstrates the cost of when the international community stood by and did too little, too late.


Annan comment

As the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said in September 1999, “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international cooperation. States are now widely understood to be instruments at the service of their peoples, and not vice versa.

At the same time individual sovereignty – by which I mean the fundamental freedom of each individual, enshrined in the charter of the UN and subsequent international treaties has been enhanced by a renewed and spreading consciousness of individual rights.

When we read the charter today, we are more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them.”

West Papua is not the same as East Timor, Sierre Leone, Sudan, Angola, Afghanistan, Kosovo, etc.

But, the international community must hold the Indonesian state accountable for more than fifty years of human rights abuses and the murder of about 500,000 West Papuans. “Intervention” does not have to be by military force. It can be a “diplomatic intervention” that holds Indonesia accountable, reminding Jakarta that its sovereignty is not absolute.


Ethnic affinity

The MSG could, and should, take on that responsibility, not only because of ethnic affinity with indigenous West Papuans, but because of universal human rights principles.

It will not be easy, given Indonesia’s growing economic, political and military power in Southeast Asia and its alliance with the US, Australia and other Western powers. But, it is a noble and worthwhile engagement. It is time to take decisive action by admitting West Papua to the MSG.


Annexation issue

Second, there is a need to redress the fraudulent processes that led to Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua.

This discussion should be taken to the United Nations. There have been suggestions for a legal approach – one that challenges the transfers of sovereignty from the Dutch to the Indonesian government.

This is an approach favored by the International Lawyers for West Papua and Vanuatu. In June 2010, the Vanuatu parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on the International Court of Justice (IJC) to investigate the legality of West Papua’s transfer from the Dutch to Indonesia.

But, as Australian academics, Jason MacLeod and Brian Martin indicate, there are risks with the legal strategy.

These include the fact that it will require considerable money and resources, legal strategies usually favor the powerful, it could dampen wide spread civil society activism both within and outside of West Papua, and there is the risk that the case might never be heard because of technical legal issues.

More importantly, MacLeod and Martin state, “A failure to win the case, even on technical grounds, could undermine the cause for self-determination by giving a legal stamp of approval to the Act of Free Choice.” They argue that, “The case of West Papua is essentially about power politics and vested economic interests.

Therefore, winning the ‘court of public opinion’ (in other words, building a powerful social movement) and raising the political and economic costs of the Indonesian government’s continued occupation will be more decisive than a legal victory.” West Papua’s membership of the MSG could add to Indonesia’s political costs.


Historical associations

Third, West Papua had historical associations with Oceania prior to the Indonesian takeover. In his book, “Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West,” the late Professor Ron Crocombe notes that, “Until Indonesia took over, West Papuans took part in the South Pacific Commission and its training courses and conferences, West Papua Churches participated in the Pacific church conferences, and West Papuans studied at the Central Medical School and the Pacific Theological College in Fiji, and at other PNG and regional institutions. When Indonesia took over West Papua in 1963, all West Papuan participation in regional activities was stopped.” This calls for Oceanian responsibility.

The MSG should therefore seriously consider West Papua’s application for membership. The worse thing that could happen would be to admit Indonesia as an “associate member.” That would be an insult to West Papuans and desecrate the original intent, impetus and spirit for establishing the MSG. It could also result in Indonesia’s domination of Melanesia.

As the Melanesia’s Big Men gather in Nahona Ara (Honiara), the cries and blood of West Papuans will hang heavy in the town’s humid air. There is a lot at stake. West Papua is an issue that could make, or break Melanesia.



MSG Engages West Papua And Indonesia To Talk
by Charles Chambers, LAUTOKAJune 17
A senior delegation of Indonesian officials and delegates of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua met yesterday in a move instigated by the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
A senior delegation of Indonesian officials and delegates of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua met yesterday in a move instigated by the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The two sides had been at loggerhead over West Papua’s struggle to have a separate state.

MSG Foreign Ministers meeting chairman, George Milner Tozaka said it was important to get both sides to sit at the same table and talk.

He said the objective of MSG is to look at the developmental interests of Melanesian countries and this included West Papua.

“We are constructively trying to engage both Indonesia and West Papua to talk and say what they want to say to each other in the meeting, but the main thing is to get them to sit at the same table and talk,” Mr Tozaka said.

He said one of the major issues was the membership of MSG and the inclusion of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua as observers, while Indonesia was accorded associate membership.

“The last meeting we had in Honiara we had been to work on the criteria for the membership of Indonesia and West Papua so that they can participate in the MSG.”

Mr Tozaka said Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) had a look through this issue and concluded that there was still a lot more work to be done.

“SOM have asked for more time for them to look into this issue.”

They would then submit their report to the Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting, before it was taken up to the Leaders Summit in Honiara on July 14.

The MSG is made up of three levels, the highest of which was the Leaders Summit, then the Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting and the Senior Officials Meeting.


Application for membership

The application for membership from West Papua and Indonesia in the Melanesian Spearhead Group has been referred to the legal committee.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said Fiji would raise its voice with Indonesia over the matter.

Ratu Inoke said Fiji had a good relationship with Indonesia.

“We respect the integrity and sovereignty of Indonesia under international laws.”

Meanwhile Ratu Inoke said Fiji still maintained its position that its participation in the Pacific Islands Forum would still remain at ministerial level.

“Our Prime Minister (Voreqe Bainimarama) still feels very strongly on that position.”

Fiji wants Australia and New Zealand to withdraw as members of PIF.

Edited by Paula Tuvuki, Fiji Sun


The curse of the Melanesian Way. Can Melanesia govern itself?
Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia
Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia

PHIL FITZPATRICK – MELANESIA is an ill-defined concept. The word comes from the Greek and means ‘black islands’.

The term generally refers to a broad swathe of territory extending from West Papua south east to Fiji.

The area encompasses the two West Papuan provinces, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the western half of Fiji.

The so-called ‘Melanesian Way’ concept claims a commonality of culture, social organisation, values and outlook, largely in flattering terms.

The idea has been variously criticised by a range of commentators, mostly because they believe it conveys a false utopian view.

In Papua New Guinea the Melanesian Way is credited, among other things, with the peaceful transition from colonial rule to independence.

In reality the peaceful transition owed more to Australian design. In Vanuatu the transition to independence was more traumatic because of the attitudes of its British and French administrators.

While the veracity of a distinct Melanesia in traditional terms is questionable, its modern regional manifestation suggests otherwise. This is nowhere more apparent than in the similarities in the problems of governance in the region.

Modern Melanesia is everywhere demonstrating a common inability to govern itself.

We are aware of the problems in Papua New Guinea. These include corruption, incompetence and the inability to organise a coherent political unity. Much of this is epitomised in the ‘bigman’ concept.

All these problems also characterise the other Melanesian states in the region.

In Vanuatu there was a breakdown in governance that required outside intervention. There was a secession movement on Santo which had the hallmarks of the Bougainville crisis. In a twist of irony, Papua New Guinea sent its own military contingent to help.

In Solomon Islands the same characteristics caused a complete breakdown in governance and a civil war between the people from Malaita and those from Guadalcanal. The Australia-led intervention known as RAMSI (regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands) encountered the same problems Papua New Guinea is now experiencing.

There is a consensus that, when RAMSI winds up, the Solomon Islands will revert to its previous condition of anarchy.

There was a crisis in New Caledonia, sometimes referred to as the Kanak insurgency. France, which regards its colonies as part of the provincial motherland, brutally supressed the uprising. The Kanaks continue to fight among themselves.

In West Papua, resistance to Indonesian annexation continues and is being brutally suppressed. There is no coherent and united opposition.

In Fiji there have been two military coups whose success probably owes more to Polynesian and Indian influences.

It seems that a defining characteristic of the Melanesian Way is disunity and a failure of effective governance. It is also a self-inflicting phenomenon. Blaming previous colonial or outside influences misses the point.

Both Australia and New Zealand have been involved in regional interventions in the Pacific. At best they have simply stabilised bad situations. They have not even come close to solving the underlying issues, and those issues persist.

Australia and New Zealand are dreading the prospect of having to intervene somewhere as large and complicated as Papua New Guinea.

This goes a long way in explaining their current heads-in-the-sand attitude. At the moment they just don’t want to know about it.

When you look at countries in Africa, it is difficult not to conclude that the whole post-war decolonisation process, so beloved of the United Nations, might have been a mistake.

Cutting barely developed countries adrift to sink or swim has been disastrous worldwide. It is analogous to setting minnows free in a pool of sharks.

In the Pacific region of Melanesia the only way forward seems to be the re-establishment of colonial ties in a much more formal and equitable way.

But who would listen to an argument like that?


West Papua National Flag - The Morning Star
West Papua National Flag – The Morning Star

Editorial, PI ReportAustralian West Papua Association, Sydney, Australia , July 6, 2016

On the 2 July 1998, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on top of a water tower near the harbour in Biak.

Up to 75 people gathered beneath it singing songs and holding traditional dances. As the rally continued, many more people in the area joined in with numbers reaching up to 500 people.

On the July 6 the Indonesian security forces attacked the demonstrators, massacring scores of people.

The victims included women and children who had gathered for the peaceful gathering. They were killed at the base of the water tower.

Other Papuans were rounded up and later taken out to sea where they were thrown off naval ships and drowned. No security force personal were ever charged over the killings.

Eighteen years later, the West Papuan people continue to suffer human rights abuses.

Since the beginning of May more than 3000 West Papuans have been arrested in peaceful rallies throughout West Papua.

Although the majority of activists were eventually released, during the arrests on the May 2 in Jayapura a large number of activists were taken to the mobile brigade (BRIMOB) headquarters and made to remove their shirts and put in a field in the extremely hot midday sun.

Seven activists were also reported to have been tortured.

The tragedy of the Biak massacre reminds us of the ongoing suffering of the West Papuan people and the importance of full membership for them at the MSG.

AWPA urges the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders to respond compassionately and courageously to the application from the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) by granting them full membership at the MSG summit later this month.

Taiwan Dan Papua Jadi Agenda China Dan Kep Solomon Di Sidang Majelis Umum PBB
PM Manasye Sogavare sebelum berangkat menuju Brisbane, Jumat (16/9/2016) - Dok. Sekretariat PM Kep. Solomon
PM Manasye Sogavare sebelum berangkat menuju Brisbane, Jumat (16/9/2016) – Dok. Sekretariat PM Kep. Solomon

Jayapura, Jubi – Perdana Menteri Kepulauan Solomon, Manasye Sogavare berangkat ke Brisbane hari ini, Jumat 16 September. Dari Brisbane, ia akan melanjutkan perjalanan ke New York untuk menghadiri Sidang Umum PBB yang ke-71.

Sidang Debat Majelis Umum PBB ke-71 yang berlangsung tanggal 16-25 September 2016 ini akan difokuskan pada pelaksanaan Tujuan Pembangunan Berkelanjutan (Sustainable Development Goals) 2030 untuk pembangunan berkelanjutan, yang diadopsi pada UNGA 70. Selain itu, tiga pertemuan tingkat tinggi tentang pengungsi dan migran, resistensi antimikroba dan Perjanjian Iklim Paris akan berlangsung juga minggu depan.

Sidang Debat Majelis Umum PBB ke-71 akan menjadi khusus untuk Kepulauan Solomon, karena Kepulauan Solomon akan berperan sebagai Wakil Presiden selama Debat Majelis Umum. Perdana Menteri Sogavare akan memimpin beberapa sesi debat. Fiji akan bertindak sebagai presiden Majelis Umum.

“Republik Rakyat China akan menyoroti keinginan Taiwan untuk menjadi PBB dan isu Papua Barat akan disampaikan oleh Kepulauan Solomon,” tulis rilis Kantor Perdana Menteri Kepulauan Solomon yang diterima Jubi, Jumat (16/9/2016).

Di sela-sela debat umum, Perdana Menteri Sogavare diagendakan melakukan pembicaraan bilateral dengan Perdana Menteri Malcolm Turnbull, bertemu dengan Presiden Misi Kristen untuk Komunitas PBB, Dr Garry Allen, menghadiri pertemuan Jepang-Pasifik, menghadiri rapat Pemimpin Forum Kepulauan Pasifik dengan Sekretaris Jenderal PBB, Ban Ki-moon dan mengadakan pertemuan Koalisi Pasifik untuk Papua Barat. (*)

Bougainville and Papua New Guinea set target date for independence referendum
PHOTO Bougainville leader John Momis (L) with PNG PM Peter O'Neill. SUPPLIED: DERYCK FRITZ/UNDP
PHOTO Bougainville leader John Momis (L) with PNG PM Peter O’Neill. SUPPLIED: DERYCK FRITZ/UNDP

Bougainville President John Momis and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill have agreed to work towards a 2019 referendum on independence, following a meeting in Port Moresby last week.

Bougainville is an autonomous part of PNG, and fought a decade-long civil war with the national government that ended in 1999.

The region must hold an independence vote by 2020 under the terms of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, but the new target date is not final.

President Momis said the decision had kickstarted the planning process ahead of the historic vote on June 15, 2019.

“With that date now agreed, we can plan the steps required to hold the referendum, and the time and the funding and personnel needed to carry out each step,” he told PNG’s Post Courier newspaper.

The PNG Government has also committed to funding referendum preparations, and it is hoped the decision will lead to full weapons disposal in Bougainville.

Some factions in Bougainville held onto their weapons after the conflict in case PNG would not allow the referendum to proceed, but President Momis said those suspicions could undermine the vote.

“I call now for full weapons disposal … only then will Bougainville be able to be referendum-ready. The Bougainville Peace Agreement requires that the referendum be free and fair,” he said.

“There should no longer be any doubt among Bougainvilleans whether or not the referendum will be held.”