ULMWP welcomes Vanuatu leader’s ‘Melanesian way’ vow in Jakarta


Share post:

Asia Pacific Report

The pro-independence United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) has welcomed Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Jotham Napat’s comments on West Papua during this week’s diplomatic visit to Indonesia.

In a joint press conference with Indonesian Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin, Napat restated his commitment to the “Melanesian way”.

Movement president Benny Wenda has issued a statement saying that hearing those words, “I was reminded of Vanuatu’s founding Father Walter Lini, who said that ‘Vanuatu will not be entirely free until all Melanesia is free from colonial rule’ — West Papua and Kanaky included.”

The Melanesian way had been shown in full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) being extended to the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), despite them representing a Melanesian people rather than a Melanesian state [New Caledonia], Wenda said.

It has also been demonstrated in Papua New Guinea’s approach to Bougainville, where Prime Minister Marape showed true moral courage by respecting their right to self-determination with a 98 percent vote in favour of independence in 2019.

“Vanuatu has always shown the same courage in supporting West Papuan freedom. By referencing the Melanesian way in the joint press conference, Deputy PM Napat was conveying to Indonesia the message Moses gave to Pharoah: ‘Let my people go’,” Wenda said.

“As West Papuans we are also committed to Melanesian values. This is why we have turned to our Melanesian family in seeking full membership of the MSG.

Vanuatu ‘steadfast in support’
“In their role as chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Vanuatu has been steadfast in supporting ULMWP full membership.

“At this crucial hour, we need all Melanesian leaders to show the same commitment, and help bring West Papua home to its Melanesian family.

“Indonesia must respect Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations by allowing the fulfillment of this decades-long dream.”

To resolve the West Papuan issue peacefully in the Melanesian way, the first step was admitting the ULMWP as a full member of the MSG at the forthcoming summit of the group, Wenda said.

The Jakarta Post reports that an earlier meeting between Minister Napat with his Indonesian counterpart Retno LP Marsudi on Friday is being seen in Jakarta as a bid to build a “bridge over the troubled waters of the past”.
During the visit, Vanuatu has announced plans to open an embassy in Jakarta and to hold annual bilateral meetings with Indonesia.
In addition, the two ministers pledged to strengthen cooperation in trade and development, which experts pointed out were part of Indonesia’s larger strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.

The joint Indonesia-Vanuatu foreign ministers media statement from Jakarta. Video: MoFA Indonesia

Jakarta announces ‘development steering committee’
RNZ Pacific reports that the joint talks between Vanuatu and Indonesia this week had West Papua high on the agenda

The talks have come amid tensions in the region, and ahead of a state visit next month to Papua New Guinea by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesia’s state-owned news agency Antara reports Vice-President Amin meeting with Minister Napat in Jakarta on Monday.

Vanuatu has strongly supported the pro-independence push in West Papua for many years and Antara reports the issue of conflict in the Melanesian region was discussed.

Amin announced a Papua Special Autonomy Development Acceleration Steering Committee had been formed to evaluate development in the Papua region.

“The granting of this special autonomy has been planned for the long term up to 2042,” he said.

Amin said Indonesia “respected the diversity” in West Papua.

Republished from Asia Pacific Report.

Cafe Pacific Publisher
Cafe Pacific Publisher
Café Pacific's duty editor.
- advertisement -

Related articles

20 people wounded in Indonesian police crackdown on Papua protest

Asia Pacific Report At least 20 people were wounded when police used batons, water cannon and tear gas to...

Open letter criticises ‘colonial’ French agency, media over Kanaky sexual violence allegations

Pacific Media Watch A controversial report by a French metropolitan not-for-profit about sexual and sexist violence in France’s overseas...

Rainbow Warrior sails Pacific seeking evidence for World Court climate case

By Sera Sefeti in Suva International environmental campaign group Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior is currently sailing across the Pacific,...

West Papuan solidarity group condemns arrest of 21 activists protesting 1962 ‘tragedy’

Asia Pacific Report An Australian West Papuan solidarity group has condemned the reported arrest of 21 activists protesting in...