Confusion over barring of West Papuan to enter PNG
There's disquiet within the Melanesian Spearhead Group over denial of entry to Papua New Guinea for a West Papuan leader.
There's disquiet within Melanesia over denial of entry to Papua New Guinea for a West Papuan leader.
PNG is this week hosting a summit of the European Union's African, Carribean and Pacific Group.
While world leaders such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe have been given the red carpet treatment, the West Papuan was shown the door.
Johnny Blades reports.
The secretary-general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says he was given no explanation why he was barred from entering Papua New Guinea.
Octo Mote was travelling to Port Moresby to assist the Vanuatu and Solomon Islands governments in their representations on West Papua at the ACP summit.
He had also been preparing for an upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting to deliberate on the Liberation Movement's bid for full MSG membership.
Mr Mote, who has a US passport, says that the two immigration officers who disallowed his entry were respectful but gave no explanation.
OCTO MOTE: These two gentlemen were just saying this is the order from high top. So I really don't know why they stop me there. I've been in and out so many times to Papua New Guinea, and I'm posessing all the legal process which is on-arrival visa.
Since the Liberation Movement gained observer status in the MSG last year, Indonesia has been lobbying intensely to counter regional recognition of the West Papuans.
The matter is proving divisive for the MSG, as some governments like PNG forge closer ties with Jakarta.
The Liberation Movement's international spokesman Benny Wenda, who lives in exile in the United Kingdom, was denied entry into PNG twice in the last year.
BENNY WENDA: They don't really give a reason [about] why they try to stop me, but I hope they will allow me again because I'm officially a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and I'm officially the spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement.
But the MSG chair, Solomon Islands' Manassaeh Sogavare, is determined that West Papuans should take their place in regional fora.
The secretary to the MSG Chair, Rence Sore, says the MSG is the right forum for Indonesia to engage with West Papuans over their self-determination aspirations.
RENCE SORE: Indonesia is at the moment an associate member. ULMWP is observer. They are members: associate and observer members to MSG. And that is a good space for them to be able to start talking to each other.
Just last week, PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill spoke of the need to speak out about human rights abuses in the neighbouring Indonesian territory, telling a radio talkback programme that West Papuans were welcome in PNG.
Mr Mote admits that given what happened since then, he is confused.
OCTO MOTE: I really respect him on that (O'Neill's statements voicing concern over rights abuses in Indonesia's Papua region) but the fact that I was stopped two days after that statement really made me confused and therefore I really don't know what is the position of the government.
Other MSG member states are understood to be disappointed at PNG's barring of Mr Mote.
The venue for their upcoming summit had already been rescheduled and shifted from Vanuatu to PNG.
But after the refusal to let the Liberation Movement reps enter, another venue change is on the cards.
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