Fiji Times – EXILED West Papuan pro-independence leader Benny Wenda is hoping Fiji will support his movement’s bid for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
He said becoming a member of the MSG would provide the platform the indigenous West Papuans needed to raise issues such as the alleged atrocities by Indonesian security forces against his people that have resulted in the deaths of more than 500,000 men, women and children.
Speaking to the Fiji Times newspaper from London, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua leader said he hoped Fiji would support West Papua’s bid for membership into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
“No country, and especially our Melanesian brothers and sisters, can ignore that more than 100,000 men, women and children have been killed since Indonesia colonised West Papua in 1963,” he said.
“And this is a big number of people when you take into consideration our population is about 2 million.
“That is why it is important we become a member of the MSG because it will provide us a platform to take our grievances to the Pacific region and the world.
“We have submitted our application for membership in the MSG at the secretariat in Port Vila and I really hope Fiji will support our bid and our movement towards self-determination because we are all part of the greater Melanesian family.
“This is no longer a West Papua issue, what is happening to my people is a Melanesian issue.”
Wenda said the West Papuan people’s bid for autonomy and membership into the MSG had been boosted with support from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola did not respond to queries on the subject sent via email but he told Parliament last month he could not confirm Fiji’s position on the issue.
Responding to questions raised by Opposition member Ratu Isoa Tikoca, the Foreign Affairs Minister said processes had to be followed before a decision could be made.
“The application will be considered by the senior officials of the MSG and then it goes up to the foreign ministers and then to the MSG leaders,” he said.
“This meeting will take place in July in Honiara this year. So we have to follow that process. So madam speaker I cannot confirm if Fiji will support the application of West Papua.”
Wenda said although he was disappointed Fiji had not taken a position, comments made by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at a leadership summit in Port Moresby were encouraging.
In his address at the summit – which can be viewed on a You Tube video uploaded by Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy, O’Neill became the first PNG PM to acknowledge the oppression of the West Papua people.
“Our leading role in encouraging Fiji to return to a democratically elected government and voicing our concerns about the plight of our people in New Caledonia are examples of our growing influence,” the PNG PM said.
“But sometimes we forget our family, our brothers and sisters, especially those in West Papua.
“I think as a country the time has come for us to speak about the oppression of our people.
“Pictures of brutality of our people appear daily on social media yet we take no notice.
“We have the moral obligation to speak for those who are not allowed to talk. We must be the eyes for those who are blindfolded.”
Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Milner Tozaka have made recent comments strongly in favour of West Papua’s inclusion into the MSG.
– Fiji TImes