Catherine Delahunty
Calls to Free West Papua at the Pacific Forum

Yesterday I was proud to be part of a vigil outside the South Pacific Forum organised to highlight the West Papua issue. Genocide is not a word to be used lightly but for the last forty years West Papua has been the dirty secret of the Melanesian Pacific. These people are Melanesian who through the machinations of colonial history have been separated from their neighbours Papua New Guinea and occupied by the Indonesians.

West Papua is a beautiful resource rich country where the USA owned mine Freeport McMahan Mine has open cast the sacred mountains and supplied royalties to  Indonesia which that country is reluctant to forgo. The forests of West Papua are being systemically destroyed to support the illegal timber trade, palm oil plantations and rice growing. This is destroying the culture and the land of the West Papuan forest people. Meanwhile Indonesia has “transplanted” many Indonesians to West Papua.

The Pacific Island Forum has been a weak neighbour to this occupied state and only Vanuatu has shown any real support. However today outside the Forum we made a dramatic protest featuring a caged Papuan citizen with his mouth taped up. This bamboo cage represented the imprisonment, torture and abuse of a silenced people. The people from the Indonesian Human Rights committee and Pax Christi have been staunch allies of the Papuan struggle for freedom and the Green Party was proud to stand with them and our Papuan friends who have come to make their stand here and now.

I also used my MP status to walk into the opening of the Forum and while John Key spoke of the “pacific family” I held up a small banner which said “Pacific Island Forum remembers the Papuan whanau”. This attracted some international media attention especially from the Australians who’s Government has been as useless as ours has in supporting a peaceful dialogue between the independent leaders of West Papua and the Indonesian Government.

Our friends from West Papua have a deep patience and a great determination that a peace process is the way forward.  Even though their people are currently dying at the hands of the military as Pacific Island Forum rolls on. Therefore we are all hoping that the words of Bank Ki-moon spoke today will lead to action. He said “We will do all we can to ensure that the people of West Papua’s human rights will be respected”. He said that West Papua should be included  in the list of Pacific countries seeking  decolonisation.

So what will the United Nations and our Government do?   The Green Party will be watching and we will be asking!

6 thoughts on “Calls to Free West Papua at the Pacific Forum

  1. Dear Catherine Delahunty,
    I am a Papuan, an activist for the independence of West Papua and live in West Papua. Thank you very much for your genuine solidarity to free West Papua and thank you too for your article as shown above.
    There is a minor spelling error (?) in the text of “Pacific Island Forum remembers the Papuan whanau” in your article. I do not get the word “whanau”. Would you please describe the meaning the this word or is just simply a typing error?
    Greetings from West Papua.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  2. And “Kia kaha” means “all strength to you”.

    Cheers, Ottis. We in the NZ Green Party will do whatever we can to support your struggle for self-determination. If you need specific support, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  3. Well those troubles started when Holland was exploiting the region since the 1500′s and decided in the early 1960′s to wash it’s hands of all responsibility for West Papua and dump it onto Indonesia.

    I think that the UN should be fronting up to the Dutch government for a contribution.
    I meant to tick Ottis’s post with a + sorry about that Ottis. That – is a + ok.When I go on again ILL tick a + !!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  4. The territory should have become a non self governing trusteeship of the UN back in the 1960′s, and future UN involvement in this matter should come in that light. Whether that leads to decolonisation from Indonesia or not, UN involvement seems to be required.

    Indonesia was making some progress with its regional autonomy programme, but has not fulfilled intentions in providing special autonomy to Papua. And while retaining 80% of taxation receipts sounds fair, if that excludes royalties while allowing resources to be exploited in an environmentally destructive way, that is a recipe for economic and habitat decline. It is indicative of a colonial policy towards this region continuing under Indonesian governance. This effectively invites UN involvement and at some point the South Pacific Forum has to support this.

    Western Papua requires autonomous self governance and the sort of devolved provincial administration that PNG provides as well, if Indonesis can agree to do this itself and build trust with local partners in this well and good. If not then a long term trusteeship with the UN brokering constructive partnership would be preferable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

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