Whilst Indonesia bribes Fiji and interferes with MSG, Vanuatu fights back
January 11, 2014
We have both some very grim and very positive news to report concerning West Papua and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
As predicted, Indonesia has once again bribed the leaders of Melanesia in a desperate effort to try to cover up their ongoing genocide and illegal occupation of West Papua and to try to stop West Papua joining the very influential regional body, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) which will be an essential and struggle changing moment when West Papua joins. They have also denied access for the leaders of the Melanesian countries to visit West Papua but have insisted that they go to Java and Bali alone.
In response the Government of Vanuatu (which strongly supports West Papua) has issued a strong protest letter to Indonesia and released a bold press statement confirming that they will refuse to cooperate with Indonesia if they continue to twist and pull the internal affairs of Melanesian nations over West Papua.
In the meanwhile, the leader of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Victor Yeimo has issued a statement from behind Indonesian prison bars, calling on MSG not to betray the people of West Papua stating that “if the Melanesian leaders are more supportive of the Indonesian colonial powers than the people of West Papua then they have betrayed the people of Melanesia.”
Background to the issue
West Papua joining MSG is one of Indonesia’s greatest fears and right now they are doing all that they can to try and stop any support for West Papua from the leaders of our brothers and sister Melanesian countries. A starting move of Indonesia’s was by managing to cheat its way into getting “Observer status” at MSG. This gives it even more influence with which to interfere with the internal politics of Melanesia.
Last year, an MSG summit was held in Kanaky to determine whether West Papua would join or not. Though throughout the year, there was widespread support for West Papua’s joining, Indonesia pulled the strings at the last moment by sending an enormous delegation to Kanaky, suspected bribery of the Prime Minister of Fiji and suddenly meeting with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
As a result, whilst all the other countries voted in favour of the motion, Papua New Guinea and Fiji did not, thus barring West Papua from joining MSG in 2013. It was agreed instead at Indonesia’s insistence that before a decision could be made, a delegation of every country had to visit Indonesia so that Indonesia could try and prove that the situation in West Papua was peaceful to avoid any sympathy from fellow Melanesian countries. Indonesia claimed that “This was not a Melanesian issue but an internal issue for Indonesia”.
It was finally agreed that a delegation from every country would visit Java at the same time and then visit West Papua at the same time to discuss with the Indonesian government and to see first-hand what the human rights situation in West Papua really was.
Indonesia breaks the promises and bribes the MSG leaders
Towards the end of 2013, Indonesia began inviting not a delegation from MSG to Indonesia as a whole as had been agreed but instead, extended private invitations to the leaders of the various Melanesian countries alone who would come to Indonesia to have dinner with the Indonesian president where he would try and persuade the leaders that such support for West Papua was not necessary.
Indonesia itself has in fact admitted that this is to try and strengthen ties with MSG over West Papua. Indonesian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vishnu Ward announced recently “To strengthen relationships with MSG Indonesia, Indonesian Foreign Minister invited the MSG to come to Indonesia. To exchange experiences and provide an opportunity to see and better understand the development in Indonesia, including Papua and West Papua.”
This was by no means the end of such broken promises. Indonesia has today announced that it will not allow any delegates or leaders of the countries to visit West Papua as part of the official MSG agreement last year. The official MSG delegation to West Papua will also not in fact even be welcomed to meet with any West Papuan civil society groups. This is obviously a clear attempt to halt any Melanesian leader seeing first-hand what is really happening on the ground inside West Papua and to try to prevent the mass protests in support of West Papua joining MSG that would inevitably happen within West Papua whenever one of the MSG delegations arrived.
This further intervention by the state of Indonesia is in clear violation of the agreement.
The government of Vanuatu, which has been the most spoken of any world government in supporting West Papua was especially appalled by this violation and the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Natapei, announced that Vanuatu has sent an official letter of protest to the MSG Secretariat of the Indonesian government’s invitation.
World famous West Papuan political prisoner, Filep Karma, (who is in serving a 15 year jail sentence under Indonesian law simply for raising the West Papuan national flag), calls upon MSG to also visit the West Papuan political prisoners who are currently scattered in several prisons in Papua.
“I ask, in the MSG leaders later visit to Papua in order to visit the Papuan Political Prisoners,” said Filep Karma on Thursday (9/1).
Another famous West Papuan political prisoner, Victor Yeimo, who is the Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) asked the Indonesian government to open widely without isolating the reality of the problem that happened in Papua. He said that MSG Leaders should be given the freedom to meet with anyone Papuan people to understand the problems facing Papua issue for integration with Indonesia. Victor said recently on behalf of his organisation “We welcome and look forward to welcoming MSG Leaders in Papua,”
Following the recent huge rise in support for West Papua in both the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and in the Melanesian public, the Indonesian government has given the Chairman of MSG 500,000 dollars. This is a very symbolic figure, Indonesia has paid Fiji about 1 dollar to try and forget the brutal murder of each of the 500,000 Melanesian West Papuans the Indonesian government has murdered during their 50 year illegal occupation of West Papua. That is the value of a Papuan life in the eyes of the Indonesian government. One dollar per person.
The Indonesian government steals about 1.82 million dollars a day from Melanesia through the Freeport gold mine alone.
Fiji government officially ignores West Papua after accepting the money
The current Chairman of MSG is the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, who is regarded by many people as a military dictator. He has had a much closer relationship with Indonesia than any other Melanesian head of state and he has been effectively bribed by Indonesia several times previously to keep out support for West Papua.
Bainimarama received the money on behalf of the Melanesian Spearhead Group from the Indonesian government’s Secretary of Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Lt Gen Langgeng Sulistiyonho (who is also a general in the Indonesian military) in Suva, Fiji on Wednesday 8th January.
On the same day, Langgeng Sulistiyono announced that “With regards to the issue of West Papua — it is part of our issue, so we have to tackle it by ourself because it is part of our sovereignty,”
Bainimarama also admitted that the money given was a way to “further strengthen relations with Indonesia”.
If Indonesia is doing this because it cares about Melanesia, why has it waited until now to make a donation? And why does it chose Fiji to give it to as opposed to say Vanuatu?
Only a day later, the Fijian Defence Minister, Joketani Cokanasiga, after being silent on the issue for so long, suddenly announced that said “he would leave the matter of West Papua to the Indonesian Government to deal with.”
“Our policy is never to interfere with other people’s internal affairs,” he said.
“I believe there is a delegation from MSG going up to see West Papua — we maintain our very strong stand that if anything should happen, it should emanate from Indonesia rather than us going outside and getting them.”
To support West Papua, Government of Vanuatu refuses to cooperate with Indonesia
However, there is also very good and positive news to come from this week as well.
Unlike the Fijian government, which has accepted all of Indonesia’s terms over West Papua, including bribery and said that it will ignore the plight of the West Papuan people so that it maintains good relations with Indonesia, the government of the Republic of Vanuatu yesterday announced that they would not participate in the MSG Ministerial Fact Finding mission to West Papua which was scheduled to be held from 11-15th January 2014 and therefore would not willingly cooperate with the Indonesian government over this West Papua issue as they are so obviously pulling every string of Melanesian politics to try and stop support for West Papua.
Vanuatu announced yesterday in an official press statement “The Vanuatu Government believes that while the visit is carefully designed to “promote Economic ties and development cooperation” between Indonesia and the MSG countries, it should be structured to meet the purpose for which the MSG leaders had agreed to in Noumea during the Summit.”
They added “There are also concerns about Human rights abuses in the West Papua and while this visit is not to investigate allegations against human rights abuse, meeting with the people is absolutely necessary as it has the potential to bridge any information gap between the Governing authorities and those that are being governed.
The Vanuatu Prime Minister, Hon Moana Carcasses Kalosil had written an urgent letter to the Chairperson of the MSG, Mr. Victor Tutugoro raising the concerns of his Government that the important mission to West Papua must allow the inclusion of meetings with the indigenous people of West Papua, in particular the Chiefs and the churches in order to hear what the people have to say about the authenticity of WPNCL and other concerns which the West Papuans may have. These are concerns of the leaders at the summit. Getting views from the Indonesian authorities alone may not be truly reflective of the concerns which the leaders will want to know before they could make a final determination on the membership of West Papua into the MSG.
The Vanuatu Government had insisted during the MSG Senior Officials Meeting and the Foreign Ministers’ meeting that any program of visit to West Papua must include strong participation of the civil society who are the people that are most directly affected. “
“It is not an easy decision for the Government to make at this stage, but it has to be taken in order to uphold the integrity of the decision of the MSG leaders. What is decided by the MSG leaders must be respected and all MSG member countries are fully obliged to ensure that the decision by their leaders is not subordinated by any element. These are Sovereign decisions of Sovereign States of Melanesia.”
This is a truly brave and fully respected statement which we welcome 100%. The government of Fiji might have accepted blood money to backstab West Papua, but the government of Vanuatu shows that they are true children of Melanesia, putting their fellow Melanesian before their money.
Free West Papua Campaign statement on developments
The statements of the Government of Vanuatu over West Papua have continued to be overwhelmingly positive and right for the people of West Papua.
We fully support such statements and are entirely grateful to the government for taking such a bold stand for their Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua.
In such a way, Vanuatu has proved itself as a true son of Melanesia.
Indonesia’s sinister involvement in the Melanesian Spearhead Group in such manners as this is a clear attempt by the Indonesian government to interfere and sabotage our Melanesian nations to stop any support for their fellow Melanesian people of West Papua including by bribing our own Melanesian leaders.
It is Indonesia, which has no right whatsoever to interfere with our internal Melanesian affairs such as with our people of West Papua.
It is Melanesia, which has to tackle this issue as it is part of Melanesian sovereignty, not Indonesia.
Since when did Indonesia have any right to bribe our leaders and tell us which fellow Melanesian wantoks we do have or do not have the right to support?
This is a true disgrace and the government of Indonesia but also more shockingly to the government of Fiji, especially Mr Bainimarama and Mr Cokanasiga must be truly ashamed of themselves that they are selling their own Melanesian people down the river for little more than blood money.
We fully condemn this outrageous and blatantly illegal string pulling by the Indonesian government in trying to stop the truth coming out about the genocide and illegal occupation they are still committing inside West Papua every day.
But the Melanesian people rising up to support their family in West Papua. The Indonesian government cannot stop them. Not with 500,000 dollars. Not with all the money in the world. This is about more than money. It is about truth, justice and freedom.
History will record those who thought 500,000 dollars would buy silence over the genocide of 500,000 West Papuans.
With our Melanesian brothers and sisters, we will succeed
We know that you, the true brothers and sisters of Melanesia just like Vanuatu and as with all our friends around the world, will always stand up for your fellow people in West Papua, and that it is with your support, that West Papua will finally join the Melanesian Spearhead Group and further to the Pacific Islands Forum and that ultimately, West Papua will join the world as a member of the United Nations and at last as another free brother of Melanesia.
Help to pave the way for full freedom for West Papua and so all of Melanesia.
Thank you very much for all your support
MELANESIA MUST RISE UP!
Free West Papua Campaign