Re: Application of the nation of West Papua to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group
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The Right Honourable Moana Carcasses Kalosil
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
P M B 9053
Port Vila
Vanuatu

10 October 2013

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Application of the nation of West Papua to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group

We, the undersigned organizations and academics are writing to you in support of the application of the Melanesian peoples of West Papua to be accepted as a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
 

We acknowledge the courage and bravery with which Papuan indigenous leaders have worked together to press for their rights, and the many obstacles which have been overcome in order to submit their membership application for consideration before the Melanesian Spearhead Group.


We welcome the strong leadership shown by the MSG in addressing the issue of human rights violations in West Papua, including the denial of the right to self-determination, during its meeting of June 2013 in Noumea, New Caledonia. We understand that the matter remains under consideration by the current members of the MSG.

We would like to draw your attention to over 50 years of human rights violations in West Papua, including: extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; torture; arbitrary detentions; military operations including indiscriminate attacks on civilians; population displacement; discrimination, criminalization and stigmatisation of indigenous peoples; marginalization in the sectors of economy, health, education, and development; seizure and destruction of indigenous lands, and many more. In addition to these violations, all of which continue today, West Papuans have been denied the right to self-determination, beginning with the entry of Indonesia into the territory during the early 1960s, followed by over a decade of indiscriminate attacks on civilians using aerial bombardment, strafing, and mortar and artillery fire from air, land and sea. These indiscriminate attacks formed the context for the ‘Act of Free Choice’ which is widely agreed to have been fraudulent. The ‘Act of Free Choice’ afforded a vote to only around 1% of the Papuan population at the time; voters were intimidated and the protesting indigenous population was brutally suppressed.

We emphasise the vulnerability of the West Papua population, whose numbers are falling whilst the immigrant population continues to rise exponentially. We note the urgency of the threat to the survival of the indigenous Melanesian peoples of West Papua, who comprise many unique ethnic groups and languages, holding the key to the histories and heritage of their ancestral lands.

We acknowledge the courage and bravery with which Papuan indigenous leaders have worked together to press for their rights, and the many obstacles which have been overcome in order to submit their membership application for consideration before the Melanesian Spearhead Group. We further note the widespread popular Papuan wish to join their Melanesian neighbours in this forum, expressed in numerous demonstrations across Papua during the last year.

Finally, we appreciate the critical role of the Melanesian Spearhead Group as a forum at which Papuan leaders and the government of Indonesia can meet and take part in dialogue regarding issues of mutual and regional concern. The role of the MSG in supporting such processes could be pivotal in bringing greater peace to this part of the region, and cannot be maximized until West Papuans are admitted to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

We therefore humbly request that, as a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, you use your power as a full member to acknowledge the request of the people of West Papua to once again be recognised as fellow Melanesians, by granting full membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

We thank you for considering our request, and remain at your disposal should you require any further information regarding any of the issues raised in this letter.

Yours sincerely


Paul Barber
Coordinator, TAPOL

cc: The Rt Hon Edward N Natapei, Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vanuatu
The Rt Hon Gordon Darcy Lilo, Prime Minister, Solomon Islands
The Rt Hon Clay Forau Soalaoi, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Solomon Islands
The Rt Hon Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister, Papua New Guinea
The Rt Hon Rimbink Pato, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Papua New Guinea
The Rt Hon Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister, Fiji
The Rt Hon Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Fiji
Mr Victor Tutugoro, Spokesperson, FLNKS
Mr Peter Forau, Director-General, Secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group

signed by 98 organizations and individuals from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Thailand, India, USA, UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Indonesia and elsewhere.

see also

Rights groups call on MSG to allow West Papuans to claim their Melanesian identity

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