Vanuatu’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jotham Napat, said he is considering visiting Suva, Honiara and Port Moresby to personally get a “yes or no” answer on application by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) before the MSG Summit in Port Vila later this year.
The Minister spoke of his intention when the seven-member team led by ULMWP Interim President, Benny Wenda, appealed for his support this week.
The Minister said he had met with senior officials from the MSG Secretariat to brief him on the processes towards the application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua for full membership of the MSG.
Following the answers to his queries from the MSG Secretariat, the Minister said he plans to personally visit all member countries of MSG to get each one to come out clear on whether or not they support ULMWP’s application for full membership.
Wenda, briefed the minister on the plight of his people and the killings of approximately 500,000 Melanesians in the last half a century.
He asked how the military of such country could be involved in human abuse while being allowed to sit as an Associate Member of a Melanesian political organisation.
Former Prime Minister, Joe Natuman reiterated the late Prime Minister, Father Walter Lini’s call that Vanuatu cannot be completely free until West Papua and Kanaky are free from colonialism.
President of Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Elder Job Dalesa compared West Papua’s historical plight to Israelis “crying in the wilderness until God heard their cry” and freed them.
In the same way, Vanuatu heard the cry of the people of West Papua and stepped up to stand up with them to “amplify” their cry for freedom.
It resulted in the successful formation of the UMWP in the ‘nasara’ of the Chiefs’ Nakamal in November of 2014.
“Our target is for ULMWP to become a full member of MSG,” he said.
Since MSG is recognised by the United Nations, Dalesa said ULMWP should be able to sit on the same table to talk on equal footing with Jakarta. “It would open the door for West Papua and Indonesia to talk to each other,” he said.
The lobby team appealed to the Minister to use his networks to influence support for ULMWP to be accepted for full membership of MSG. “With your support, my team wishes to meet with all relevant Ministries including the Office of the Prime Minister this week if it is possible,” he said.
Wenda said his people have been isolated from the rest of the world for 57 years. “When we go to Europe and Africa to lobby internationally, they always ask us, ‘What about your neighbour countries in Melanesia?’
“So we are confused and are looking for our Melanesian nakamal. In the last 50 years, Indonesia has massacred 500,000 men and women,” he said.
“It is hard to explain (but) we have been killed because of our Melanesian race and because we are Christians. Seven of our pastors have been killed including our bible prominent translator in Dunga two years ago.
“Under international law, Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua is illegal so it has no right to control our country. The occupiers have illegally banned international media, Amnesty International and the Red Cross from entering our country for the last 57 years.
“Only a few people were lucky to escape from Indonesia. I myself was lucky enough to escape a 25-year prison term simply for flying our West Papua flag. “I hope that with your Government’s involvement, we would become a full member of MSG to sit down with Indonesia to talk about our future. That is what we ask, said Wenda.