Indonesia is not Melanesia

LATE last week, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement rejecting the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s comments on the issue of West Papua and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). In his statement, Manasseh Sogavare proposes that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) be given full membership to the MSG.

He asserts that the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet him, as Chair of the MSG, demonstrates Jakarta’s aim in joining the MSG was merely to “protect its own interest other than engage in dialogue about the serious human rights issues in West Papua”. In response, Indonesia’s newly appointed Director General for Asia Pacific and Africa, Ambassador Desra Percaya, described Sogavare’s statement as a violation of “the basic principles of sovereignty and non-interference as enshrined in the Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2007”.

He went on to say, “it is . . . myopic for Prime Minister Sogavare to speculate that Indonesia’s agenda in the Pacific, let alone in the MSG, is solely Papua driven”. While I respect Indonesia’s right to respond, it is vital that Melanesian and other Pacific Island countries do not allow Jakarta to dictate what we believe, say and do, especially when it comes to the defence of human rights.

Indonesia has persistently committed human rights violations, including atrocities, against Melanesians in West Papua for over 50 years. That is not a myth. It is the truth. 

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