International solidarity for West Papua writes to MSG
International solidarity for West Papua delivers emphatic message to the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
98 international and Pacific NGOS, academics, politicians and individuals have written to the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group voicing support for the West Papuan bid to join the MSG.
The MSG is considering an application for membership by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.
The group's members this year resolved to engage more closely with Indonesia on issues in West Papua.
However, the letter describes a threat to the survival of the indigenous Melanesians of West Papua, through rapidly declining population and ongoing human rights abuses, including the denial of the right to self-determination.
TAPOL's Paul Barber spoke to Johnny Blades about the letter.
PAUL BARBER: Well, it's in solidarity with the demonstrations which have been taking place across Papua, supporting that application for membership.
JOHNNY BLADES: There is a recognition that it's a fairly important move in the internalisation of the issue.
PB: Yes, I think that's right. It's important from the West Papuan point of view to develop the international support and the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the Pacific Island Forum, the Pacific context is an important one for them to develop that international support.
JB: The international solidarity movement is a growing one. Who has signed this letter?
PB: Well, there are a number of different organisations - there's 98 signatories altogether which include solidarity groups, human rights organisations around the world, including Pacific-based organisations, organisations in India and the Philippines, as well as organisations in New Zealand, Australia, the US, UK, a number of academics and other individuals who are interested in supporting the West Papuan cause.
JB: It seems as if the letter is conflating West Papuan membership in the MSG with a sort of regional peace in the Pacific. Is that right?
PB: Well, the idea is that West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group would help to promote a process. It would be a forum in which there could be some form of dialogue with Indonesia, which would then help to promote the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Papua.
JB: What do you make of the various diplomatic strategies and movements underway with regard to Indonesia almost looking to get the individual members of the MSG to engage with them, rather than collectively on this West Papua thing.
PB: Well, obviously Indonesia will have its strategies and ways of operating. But the important thing is this letter shows the international support for the membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and we would hope that the group would act together in accepting that application.
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