Granting of full membership status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMP) in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is justifiable as Indonesia had sought membership of the regional bloc to only protect its own interest other than engage in dialogue about the serious human rights issues in West Papua.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare reiterated this at a Press Conference at the Honiara International Airport VIP Lounge yesterday upon returning from Vanuatu where he had the opportunity to meet with his Vanuatu counterpart Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and a delegation of leaders from the United Liberation Front for West Papua (ULMWP) at the sidelines of the 2023 Pacific Games Bid presentation.
One of the issues discussed in the meeting between the two Melanesian Prime Ministers is motion to be tabled by Prime Minister Salwai at the upcoming MSG Leaders’ summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea for granting of full MSG membership to ULMWP for which Prime Minister Sogavare registered his full support.
In the meeting between Prime Minister Sogavare and the ULMWP delegation, the latter party presented a two-point petition for consideration by the MSG Chair for discussion at the upcoming leaders’ summit and these are the elevation of ULMWP’s membership of the MSG and a request to the United Nations for intervention in West Papua to neutralise the ever increasing rate of genocide there.
Hon Sogavare told the Press Conference that Indonesia’s apparent rejection of the resolution reached by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Port Moresby in 2015 for the deployment of a fact-finding mission in West Papua as well as the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet with him in his capacity as the MSG Chair to explain the position of the MSG on the issue of West Papua are very strong grounds for elevating the status of ULMP to full membership.
“Indonesia leaves the MSG no alternatives on bringing the West Papuan issues on the table for discussion, except to elevate the status of West Papua from Observer status to full membership, so that the MSG Leaders can be able to discuss the West Papuan issues more strategically,” he said.
Prime Minister Sogavare is adamant that Indonesia will continue to downplay West Papua human rights issues until a possible United Nations Resolution on West Papua is achieved in the future.
He said as Chair, the MSG will take aboard such matters as priority issues to address.
The Prime Minister said fresh accounts of on-going human rights violations in West Papua are continuing to emerge, however the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet him in Jakarta to convey the MSG’s position on West Papua is a clear indication that Indonesia has other reasons for joining MSG other than discussing West Papua human rights issues.
He said the Indonesian President’s noncommittal attitude warrants the MSG to take the matter up to the next notch-United Nations for intervention.
Prime Minister Sogavare said he is aware that said since the ULMWP was granted an Observer status of the MSG in 2015, the situation in West Papua became tenser, leaving the indigenous people now at the brink of extinction.
Last week, while in Port Vila, Prime Minister Sogavare said Indonesia’s refusal of his request for dialogue gives him all the reason to take this matter back to the MSG, adding that ‘Indonesia has crossed the line so we need to take some tough stance.”