West PAPUA hot on agenda

Another modest victory for pro-independence movement

PACIFIC leaders are expected to discuss the situation facing the people of West Papua when they hold their annual Forum in Papua New Guinea this month. Although the Forum Secretariat has kept confidential the agenda of the Leaders Summit, sources close to Islands Business confirm that West Papua will be discussed.

Senior officials of Forum member countries including Australia and New Zealand finalised the Leaders’ Forum agenda in the Suva headquarters of the Forum last month. The inclusion of the plight of West Papuans would be seen as a victory of sorts for the indigenous people of a region that seeks independence from Indonesia. And it follows closely in the heels of the breakthrough the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) scored in the July summit of the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group comprising the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the FLNKS political movement of the indigenous Kanaks in New Caledonia when it got endorsed as an observer of the MSG.

Through a marketing and public awareness campaign conducted mainly through social media, the ULMWP has drawn a lot of public sympathy from countries around the Pacific. Graphic images of alleged human right abuses by Indonesian forces in West Papua had saturated Facebook and Twitter in recent months, despite efforts by Jakarta to sway public and government opinion through high levelled visits to selected capitals in the region.

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