Honiara, Jubi – Manasseh Sogavare, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, is the one who should be recorded in the history of the nation of Papua. Sogavare, who replaced Gordon Darcy Lilo last year, stood firmly for Papua in facing two Melanesian giants, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The leaders of both countries have no doubt become the foremost leaders in Melanesia, and even in the Pacific. But the religious leader Sogavare has brought his people’s mandate.
That happened during the meeting of four Melanesian leaders and a leader of the Liberation Movement in the Melanesia Spearhead Group. Fiji and PNG have long time confirmed their support for the application of Associate Member proposed by Indonesia. PNG also clearly said it would not support the full membership application of West Papua, while Fiji did not indicate their support of the Papuan application.
On the other hand, Vanuatu affirmed their support to accommodate the unification of faction and resistance groups in West Papua in Port Villa in December 2014. However, the fall of Joe Natuman in June has raised questions about Vanuatu’s position and its participation in the 20th MSG Summit in Honiara, 25 – 26 June 2015. Later, the Vanuatu court banned the new Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Sato Kilman and the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moana Kalosil from leaving the country. As a result, Director General of Prime Minister Office represented Vanuatu to face Bainimarama and O’Neil who are influential in the Melanesia and Pacific region.
The history and status of Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) who is the traditional supporter of West Papua was undeniable reason of the support of Kanak nation over West Papua in MSG. But its status as Kanak liberation movement in New Caledonia instead of independent country has become its obstruction to argue against Fiji and PNG.
The only country that has strong position in MSG to encounter Fiji and PNG is Solomon Islands. The Prime Minister Sogavare is also getting supports from his people and residents of Honiara and Guadalcanal province.
In the MSG Summit, Fiji and PNG approved the Indonesian application. PNG refused the application of ULMWP who represent West Papuan people while Fiji had no response to this application. The Solomon Islands support the application of ULMWP and rejected the Indonesian application. FLNKS and Vanuatu also gave their support to ULMWP and ignored the Indonesian application. After the plenary session of MSG leaders summit in Heritage Park Hotel on 26 June 2015, Jubi interviewed each MSG leaders.
The Prime Minister of Fiji Veroqe Binimarama admitted the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) is significant organization that represent West Papuans’ point of view outside of Papua. He also believed ULMWP has view on what should be happened with Melanesian people in West Papua. “Off course, our decision to support West Papua as observer is for everyone’s benefit. ULMWP must be brought in the process of change of Melanesian in Papua. It is not a lost for ULMWP. This is their opportunity. They must used this privilege to cooperate with MSG to bring change towards West Papuan people,” said Bainimarama.
He also said the entire parties in MSG must be step up to the new era, collaborate with all parties to obtain the best achievement for West Papuan people. It might be not the best way, but it is the only way to improve the condition of West Papuan people.
“We are not able to erase the history of West Papua and some negative aspects of the history that we had admitted in Noumea, including the significant human right violations. But Indonesia that is currently under the new leaders is one of most motivated democratic country. And at the national level, Indonesia also committed to correct some mistakes of the past and put the West Papua in new paradigm,” Bainimarama said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of PNG, Peter O’Neil kept his statement before the MSG Summit. According to him, the MSG leaders’ decision to include other Melanesian from Indonesia is very historical step. “We welcome them as our Melanesian family. Like others in Melanesian region, we want the same thing. We want peace and better standard of living for our family. We will keep working together to achieve our goal as expected by our people,” said O’Neil.
The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare firmly said accepting the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) as observer is eventually a big history for Melanesian nations. “Although in MSG Communiqué, ULMWP is identified as representative of West Papuan people outside of Indonesia, the fact is ULMWP is the representation of West Papuan people. The ULMWP leaders were elected in the congress held in Papua in 2011 that opened by Indonesian official. Five ULMWP leaders reelected by three biggest Papuan groups: WPNCL, NRFPB and Regional People’s Council. ULMWP also had legitimation from West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and Papua Liberation Army/Free Papua Movement,” Sovagare explained behind the support of the people of Solomon Islands.
He added he accepted petition collected by ULMWP signed by the groups of youth, customary, church, academic, women and students.
“Therefore I reject the Indonesian application and accept the application of West Papua. What I have done is the will of the people of Solomon Islands. Our people must stand to help their Melanesian brothers in West Papua,” he further said.
FLNKS that for first time invited Papuan Nation in the MSG Forum mentioned their experience to support Palestine and South Africa as the other reason to support West Papua, besides the similarity of their status with West Papuan people. “Probably there is a question about our sovereignty and our position as organization instead of country. But today we are not speaking about our sovereignty, we talked about the human right, universal human right. Just like us, Papuan nation want a freedom and sovereignty as a nation. Therefore we gave our support. We invited Papua in Noumea in 2013,” FLNKS leader Victor Tutugoro said.
He admitted he accepted the report about many factions in Papua. Therefore MSG was against the Papuan nation to unite and propose new application in MSG Summit in Noumea in 2013. “FLNKS also had many factions, many groups claimed as representatives of Kanak. But the MSG leaders challenged us to unite and we did it. Therefore FLNKS could stand with MSG right now. What we have done also applied by Papuans in 2014. They were united in Port Villa to establish ULMWP. And now they are recognized in MSG. The status of observer gave the opportunity for Papuan nation to talk in the Melanesian Regional Forum about the universal human right of Papuan,” Tutugoro said.
Tutugoro who earlier was the Chairman of MSG before being replaced by Sogavare ensured ULMWP would be invited in every MSG meeting. “I do not see that ULMWP would say that they are outside of Papua. ULMWP as declared in Port Villa would bring the mandate of Papuans, just like us to bring the mandate of Kanaks,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vanuatu as traditional supporter of West Papua never changed their attitude. But the internal political problem has made the leaders of this country not able to participate in the summit. “Our commitment has never changed. Vanuatu still gives support to West Papua. But due to political problem, we should divide our focus. But, Vanuatu is the biggest supporter of West Papua. It’s no doubt,” said John Naviti Marakipule, the Director General of Vanuatu Prime Minister Office. (Victor Mambor/rom)