Honiara, Jubi – The 53-year-long journey of the Papuan people towards gainning recognition as a nation eventually found its destination. What was called by IS Kijne “from one miracle to another” has become reality. The nation of Papua is eventually recognized as part of the Melanesian race by four sovereign countries and Kanak Liberation Movement (FLNKS).
Fiji and PNG were not able to stop the commitment of the prime minister of Solomon Islands, FLNKS and Vanuatu. On the other hand, they were not able to resist the proposal of Fiji and PNG. But for whatever reason, the decision of MSG leaders has provided recognition for Papua as a nation and people who want sovereignty for their own land.
The MSG leaders have decided to give the status of associate member to Indonesia and observer to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), which represents Melanesian-Papuans out of Indonesia. It means their status is up to one level. Indonesia had earlier gained the observer status while Papua won recognition for the first time as part of the Melanesian race in the Melanesian sub-regional forum. These two decisions were set in the 20th MSG Communiqué held in Honiara, Friday (26 June 2015).
The Secretary General of ULMWP, Oktovianus Mote, accepted this decision with pride. Although he admitted having higher expectations, the nation of Papua deeply appreciates the decision of Melanesian leaders. “We have tried very hard, but we are also aware this is the way God given to our nation. We must accept this to move to the next step,” Mote said on Friday (26/6/2015).
Papuan nation, said Mote, should thank to the Melanesian leaders because these five Melanesian leaders are considered giving recognition to Papuan nation. “In particularly to the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS who effortlessly struggled for the membership of Papua. Appreciation also must give to Fiji and Vanuatu that actually are able to reject us,” Mote added.
Meanwhile, Papuan leader in exile Benny Wenda admitted he was so moved with that decision. “After a long time of my struggle, only this time there is a sovereign country which openly give recognition to the struggle of Papuan people to obtain their sovereign. Ant it’s not just a single country but four. Although we only obtained a status of observer in MSC, this is recognition among Melanesians in the world over Papua as a nation. It is also recognition of the struggle of Papuan people and over what was happening in Papua for decades up to now,” Wenda said.
Papuan nation, he further said, would honor the people and the government of Solomon Islands who have fought for the membership of Papua in MSG. “Now, Papuan nation is in “the same building” with Indonesia. We must fight to obtain the same position in this building,” said Wenda.
He further said the most important thing for Papuan nation is this nation has struggled for what they’ve obtained now in MSG with honest and through proper procedure. Papuan nation through ULMWP applied all requirements requested by MSG. “We are honest and serious in fighting. This must be a pride of Papuan nation. Papuan nation did not win because it already won in Noumea in 2013. Many ways were taken to prevent Papua to joint the MSG. But the fact is MSG give its recognition on us,” Wenda said.
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Rimbink Pato sighted the MSG leaders’ decision was decided based on many considerations. According to him, PNG that facilitated Indonesia as associate member in MSG decision of MSG leaders has good relationship with Indonesia that need to be maintained and improved. “We must improve our relationship with Indonesia. We want prosperity, peace and economic growth between Indonesia and our country,” said Pato.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Fiji Fransk Bainimarama admitted the decision that was taken through MSG leaders’ consensus might upset ULMWP who represented Papuan to obtain full membership in MSG. “But you must understand that Indonesia is the sovereign country while ULMWP is not. It is the criteria that we considered. Therefore we accepted ULMWP as a group who represent Melanesians outside of Melanesian region. Bringing ULMWP in MSG is equal to taking Indonesia in MSG that would open the possibility for MSG in facilitating what was happening to Melanesians in West Papua. We realized about what was happening in West Papua, our Melanesians brothers. But this time, Indonesia is sovereign country that we should be respected. This problem should be discussed on the same table by each side. Now ULMWP is in the same house with Indonesia in MSG,” Bainimarama said after signing the MSG joint Communiqué.
Octavianus Mote after accepting the ULMWP status as observer, to the MSG leaders said ULMWP leaders were elected by Papuan nation in June 2011 in the conference attended by the Indonesian Minister of Legal, Politic and Security Affairs in Jayapura, Papua. At that time, Mote said himself and Leoni Tanggahma, Rex Rumakiek, Benny Wenda and the late John Ondowame attended as representatives of Papuan nation in the international forums. “We were elected, and reelected in last December by three opposite groups in Vanuatu,” Mote said.
The Secretary General ULMWP that earlier worked as journalist of national media Kompas also showed 150.000 signatures of the people of West Papua as a support towards ULMWP as the representative of the people of Papua. “However, we accepted any decision by MSG leaders in Honiara,” Mote said to reaffirm the ULMWP attitude.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian status as associate member was getting critic from civil society and churches in Melanesia. Indonesia was considered destructing the Melanesian Block. In the end, the civil society in Melanesia considered MSG as weak regional organization that could be intervened by Indonesia.
“It’s simple like this whether Indonesia is part of Melanesian? No. So, why did the leaders accept Indonesia as member? It indicates that our Melanesian solidarity is weak, so it could be affected by non-Melanesian country,” Chairman of Vanuatu Church Council, Bishop James Ligo.
Meanwhile, Indonesian delegation under the leading of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wiwik Setyawati Firman in responding the participation of ULMWP in MSG this time said Indonesia couldn’t have double membership in MSG. “We must understand the UN resolution has recognized West Papua as part of Indonesia. And Indonesia has become the observer in MSG. So, Indonesia could not have double membership in MSG. Indonesia has become a member and West Papua is part of Indonesia. Only two governors and regents of two Papua provinces who are indigenous Papuans could have legitimation to represent Papuans in the forum, not the other,” said the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Victor Mambor/rom)