A report, titled,We will lose everything, forms the basis of a fact finding mission to West Papua, a call that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and solidarity movements throughout the Pacific have been calling on the Pacific Islands Leaders to action.
The report commissioned by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the archdiocese of Brisbane in Australia was recently launched in the region, and gives a clear account of the current human rights situation in West Papua. The commission’s delegation to West Papua in February of this year found no improvement to the human rights situation in West Papua. The report stated that human rights violations by members of Indonesian security forces had not declined and the economic and social status of Papuans has not improved.
The report recommended that governments in the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand should seek intervention at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly to initiate an independent investigation into human rights violations in West Papua.
ULMWP Secretary General, Octovianus Mote says the report clearly highlights a need for a fact finding mission as it states that Papuans continue to live in constant fear of violence while our population is rapidly declines, and we feel marginalized both socially and economically.
“The situation continues to worsen and the report pointed out that over 1200 incidents of harassment, beatings, torture and killings of our people by Indonesian security forces…this needs the attention of our Pacific and global leaders.”
It was agreed at the 46th Pacific Island leaders’ forum in Papua New Guinea in 2015 that Pacific leaders recalled their decisions and concerns expressed at their meeting in 2006 about reports of violence in Papua, in which they also called on all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents in Papua and to work to address the root causes of such conflicts by peaceful means.
The leaders also requested the forum chair, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, to convey the views of the Forum to the Indonesian Government, and to consult on a fact finding mission to discuss the situation in Papua with the parties involved.
But as West Papua’s political recognition grows within the region through the ULMWP, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is now challenged with recognizing West Papua, yet having Indonesia as an associate member to the forum.Current MSG Chair and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare attempted to hold dialogue between the Indonesian government and the ULMWP, but calls to Jakarta were unsuccessful.
“Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s FLNKS are in favour at attempting dialogue, while PNG and Fiji are less keen on potentially offending Jakarta,” said Sogavare early this year.
As preparations lead up to the MSG special leaders summit later this month, pressure continues from solidarity movements with the region, calling on leaders to recognize ULMWP in MSG. And while the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat prepare for the 47th Pacific Island leaders forum, regional proposals have clearly pointed out in number that West Papua must be the priority for our Pacific.
West Papuans detained by Indonesian security forces last week during a peaceful demonstration. – Photo sourced from Free West Papua Campaign
Pacific Islanders at the 46th leaders forum in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. All leaders agreed in 2015 to uphold and protect the human rights of West Papuans.
People of Vanuatu marching during a peaceful protest last week in Port Vila. – Photo sourced from Thomas Marango