Pacific Champions call on leaders to support West Papua
September 5, 2018
Papua New Guinean heavyweight champions and founders of the Wan Papua Warriors rugby team Tala and Tomasi Kami have released video statements calling for Pacific leaders to keep the issue of West Papua at the forefront of discussions during the Pacific Islands Forum being held on Nauru this week. As Pacific advocates dedicating the use their athletic talents to raise awareness about their homeland, the Kami brothers hope this year’s PIF will have an outcome causing more Pacific leaders to sign on to take the issue of West Papua to the United Nations.
Team Captain of the Wan Papua Warriors Tala Kami has asked Pacific leaders to “Fight for the people of West Papua. Fight for freedom. Fight for justice.” In his video appeal Kami also reminds Pacific leaders “One day West Papua will be free, and your legacy as a leader will be defined by whether you stood by and watched, or you supported the fight for freedom.”
Tomasi Kami, who is also a heavyweight champion boxer and star player for the Wan Papua Warriors, joins his brother in the call to action by offering a video message asking leaders to “allow open discussion and debate for the West Papuan issue.” He further states that “ We have been let down for too long by our leaders and we’re counting on you now to make the right decision.”
The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is a regional intergovernmental organisation comprised of leaders of 18 countries from across the Pacific and observers from the United Nations, World Bank, and dialogue partners, including China, India, the United States and the United Kingdom. Heads of state from PIF nations and observers gather once a year to support its member governments on regional issues aimed to enhance the economic and social well-being of the people of the South Pacific. The intended purpose of The PIF platform is to advocate for their best interests and create a united focus as one Pacific body. The theme for this year’s forum is “Building a strong pacific: our people, our islands, our will.”
The Wan Papua Warriors team is made up of players from both Papua New Guinea and West Papua. The team was formed to raise awareness about the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua.
The island of New Guinea is the second largest island in the world after Greenland. It sits just a few hundred kilometers north of Australia. The island is divided by independent Papua New Guinea to the east with occupied West Papua as its neighbor. The name WAN Papua means “One Papua.” Although the island of New Guinea has been divided by their colonial histories, its people on both sides of the border share the same Melanesian ethnicity and culture and still consider themselves to be “One people.”
This summer The Wan Papua Warriors and Wests Warriors combined their teams to compete in the the London 9s, Europe’s largest rugby 9s tournament. The newly formed international team was made up of Papuans from both PNG and West Papua, expat New Zealanders, Australians and Fijians.The team went undefeated in all of their matches and took home the tournament’s championship trophy.
” First and foremost we’re rugby league players, but we’re playing for a cause, so we take the game very seriously. At the end of the day people like winners. The more we win the more it’s a good thing for our cause.” -Tala Kami