Recruitment of Indonesians in MSG would be ‘unfair’, says Wenda

Benny Wenda

Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA) has threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in Port Vila pursues its plan to recruit Indonesians.

Amid Daily Post’s attempts over the last three days to get the confirmation of the recruitment of the Indonesians from the MSG Secretariat, a close source from the MSG told Daily Post that the issue was discussed last week at the MSG office. The source said that it is expected that the two Indonesians will commence work at the MSG Secretariat in March this year.

The Interim President of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Provisional Government, Benny Wenda, who is currently on Port Vila said it would be unfair for the MSG to recruit Indonesians who are not Melanesian to work at the MSG Secretariat.

The VFWPA said there are many consultants in the five MSG member countries — Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and the FLNKS of New Caledonia – to choose from and there is no need to recruit consultants from Indonesia.

Last Friday, the VFWPA and Wenda met to discuss the matter at the West Papua Office in Port Vila.

VFWPA Chairman Elder Job Dalesa and his members voiced their concerns, saying that they will stage a peaceful demonstration in front of the MSG Secretariat if the two Indonesians are recruited.

“This must never happen,” they said.

According to the VFWPA, the MSG has already made a big mistake when their leaders accepted Indonesia as an associated member of the MSG.

They reminded that Vanuatu as the MSG Chairman must remeber that the prime purpose to create a Melanesian bloc is to eradicate colonialism in Melanesia.

“Indonesia is still colonising our Melanesian brothers in West Papua. Recruiting Indonesian consultants will defeat the cause to have the Melanesian bloc,” they said.

The group said if there is an initiative for the MSG Secretariat for Indonesian recruitment, it must be abandoned.

“We received information that two Indonesian consultants will commence work at the MSG Secretariat in March this year,” the VFWPA alleged.

Vanuatu’s support for West Papua has always been firm. A few years ago, some members of the VFWPA were arrested by the police at the Port Vila International Airport after picketing against the arrival of an army plane from Indonesia, which was delivering computers to be used during an international meeting at Le Lagon.

The VFWPA said Indonesia is a member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which means it is Asian and not Melanesian.

West Papua Sovereignty

Meanwhile, Wenda is back in Vanuatu to “strategise” with Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishamel Kalsakau on the way forward regarding his government’s mandate towards eventual sovereignty.

The interim President plans to discuss ongoing issues of human rights abuse, and internal displacement of at least 160,000 West Papuans by the Indonesian military while Jakarta continues to “pretend that nothing is happening in West Papua”.

“We are developing in Melanesia, but unfortunately we cannot develop on top of all the suffering in West Papua which is another Melanesian country,” he said.

“I look forward to meeting Vanuatu‘s new Government leaders to brief them on the realities happening in West Papua. For example, in the last five years, almost 240 Melanesians died n West Papua.

“So far seven of our church pastors have been killed including the most well-known Pastor Sanabani — a Bible translator.

“Indonesian soldiers also target our children while women give birth in the bush. Nobody has any statistics because Indonesia has banned all journalists for almost fifty years now, from entering and reporting on what has been happening in our country.”

Comparing their situation with that of Russia’s war with Ukraine, he says television viewers are focused on their screens while no one really cares about what is happening in their next-door neighbour of West Papua.

“We, the Melanesian countries call ourselves Christians but where is the Melanesian spirit of Christian brotherhood regarding West Papua?” he asks.

“We badly need Melanesian Good Samaritans and perhaps now is the right time to prove that level of responsible leadership.”

Vanuatu has pushed through the West Papua case at the Pacific Islands Forum as well as further abroad at the Asia Caribbean Pacific in Brussels.

Initially, Indonesia agreed to allow a Human Rights Commissioner to visit West Papua but to date, Jakarta has not allowed the visit to take place.

“Meanwhile, killings of West Papuans in their own country continues. Last year, four young West Papuans were murdered, and their bodies were mutilated like animals by six Indonesian soldiers,” Wenda said.

“It is my hope for Melanesian leaders to help us find a solution to the atrocities, which is good for Melanesians, West Papuans and even Indonesians themselves.

“Indonesia calls itself a democratic, vibrant country but Melanesian countries must unite to get West Papua out of its stranglehold or otherwise fifty years from now, West Papuans would become like what the Aborigines of Australia and Red Indians of North America have become — nobodies in their own countries,” he lamented.

After that he predicts that arriving like flies, Jakarta’s next target would be Papua New Guinea. Without zeroing on Muslims and Christians, he says Muslimisation is happening as he speaks. “While we in Melanesia say, ‘Yumi man ia’ but, where is the manhood?” he asked.

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