Jayapura, Jubi – The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) held its Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and its Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) between 14 and 16 June 2016 in Lautoka, Republic of Fiji Islands. It was the first time that a delegation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was able to attend both meetings officially, after having received an invitation from the Secretariat of the MSG.
Mr. Benny Wenda, the ULMWP spokesperson, has expressed deep appreciation on behalf of his organization for this privilege, which was made possible by the MSG’s June 2015 decision to grant observer status to the ULMWP. At present, the MSG is a regional organization of five Melanesian member states – Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Kanaky/New Caledonia. Mr. Wenda further stated that ever since 2013, when the MSG first gave its full support of the inalienable right of the West Papuan people to self-determination as provided for under the preamble of the MSG Constitution, the issue of West Papua has featured prominently on the agenda of the MSG. He called this prominence a clear sign that the fate of their Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua is of great importance to the leaders and peoples of the MSG countries. The observer status accorded the ULMWP is also a recognition of the organization as the legitimate representative of the people of West Papua and their liberation struggle against Indonesia’s continuing colonial rule.
After gaining observer status last year, the ULMWP applied for full MSG membership and hoped that a decision would be reached at the just-concluded June MSG meetings. Due to technical and legal constraints, however, the decision was deferred. ULMWP Head of Delegation, Mr. Rex Rumakiek, stated that the ULMWP was not at all discouraged. The ULMWP is certain these procedural problems will be resolved before the mid-July MSG Leaders’ Meeting in the Solomon Islands. Mr. Octo Mote, Secretary General of the ULMWPstated that his organization had full trust in the MSG and in the MSG’s founding commitment to be, above an organization promoting and protecting the political, social, cultural and economic interests of Melanesian peoples throughout Melanesia.
Secretary General Mote also said his organization and all West Papuans very much welcomed the MSG’s granting to ULMWP the opportunity to sit at the same table at the June meetings with Indonesian officials. For the first time, West Papuan delegates sat as equals with Indonesia in an official international decision-making body, and a de facto recognition of the momentum both inside West Papua and internationally of the West Papuan demand for self-determination. Mr. Mote stated that it was important that both parties had a chance to listen – and to be listened to – with understanding and respect. The ULMWP believes that a negotiation process between the ULMWP and the Indonesian government mediated by a strong neutral third party or parties could lead to an amicable solution to the injustice, oppression and colonialism and the lack of self-determination that West Papuans still face. (*)