Visiting Indonesian minister to expect protests in Honiara today
VISITING Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs minister Retno Marsudi is expected to receive an unusual welcome reception when she arrives in Honiara this morning.
Civil society groups supporting the growing West Papuan independence movement are expected to stage a peaceful demonstration over Indonesian’s occupation of West Papua.
“We have nothing against this visit,” Solomon Islands for West Papua (SIFWP) spokesman and prominent musician Ian Ronie told the Solomon Star yesterday.
“But we wanted the government to raise the issue of West Papua with the Indonesian minister when she arrives here,” Mr Ronie said.
He added this is an opportunity for the government to raise the human rights abuse with the minister that Indonesian soldiers are committing against the people of West Papua.
International human rights groups say since Indonesia occupied West Papua more than 50 years ago, up to 400,000 Papuans died in the hands of Indonesian military.
Civil society groups are expected to raise the West Papuan flags at strategic locations in Honiara to show Mrs Marsudi their disgust over Indonesian occupation of West Papua.
Mrs Marsudi is expected to meet deputy Prime Minister Douglas Ete and Foreign Affairs minister Milner Tozaka.
Mr Tozaka told the Solomon Star the visit provides an opportunity for the government to discuss common issues with Indonesia.
“Of course we will be discussing the West Papuan issue here. There is nothing to hide about the issue here,” he said.
“In fact the issue had been discussed during the MSG summit in 2012 where an exclusive group comprising of MSG members come together to determine support for West Papua,” he said.
Mr Tozaka added the MSG summit in July this year in Honiara is expected to receive and discuss an application from West Papua to be a member of MSG.
Meanwhile, Mr Ronie said Solomon Islands is yet to clearly state its support for West Papuan independence due to its diplomatic relations with Indonesia.
The country last year opened a High Commission in Jakarta.
Mr Ronie said his group’s goal is to join other international groups to pressure Indonesia to give West Papua the independence they’ve been fighting for.
“Our aim is to see West Papua gain its freedom, and as Melanesians we too must stand with them,” he said.
Mrs Marsudi will leave later this afternoon on to Fiji where she’s expected to meet government officials there.
She was in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, in the last two days.
By CHARLES KADAMANA