April 27, 2015

West Papua’s bid to join Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) gathers momentum

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 20.21.02A video serving as a rallying call to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has been produced, urging the membership bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to be accepted.

The bid for membership was formally submitted to the MSG secretariat in February after an earlier attempt by the West Papuans was rejected because the MSG didn’t consider the application to be representative of the Indonesian province. The new bid by the ULMWP is a grouping of three West Papuan groups, namely the Federal Republic of West Papua, the West Papua National Parliament and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL).

Last week the Pacific Freedom Forum became the latest group to publicly call on the MSG to accept West Papua’s application.

“The people of West Papua have long been denied basic human rights by their own government,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi. “They are therefore justified in seeking support and assistance for those rights from outside their own borders. It makes absolutely no sense for MSG to give priority to Indonesian voices when Indonesia denies those same rights to its own citizens”.

Indonesia steps up efforts to woo MSG members

Amid rising concern inside Indonesia about the consequences of West Papua’s acceptance into the MSG, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno has been holding a series of bilateral meetings with counterparts, including members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) who will attend the conference as observers.

“The number of Melanesians in Indonesia is higher than all of the Melanesian population in the Pacific. If you talk about Melanesia, you talk about Indonesia. If you talk about Indonesia, you talk about Melanesia,” Retno said after her meeting with Papua New Guinea’s Rimbink Pato.

The Vanuatuan minister Sato Kilman also confirmed that the issue concerning the United Liberation Movement of West Papua’s (ULMWP) full membership application, which was submitted to MSG’s headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, last month, had been discussed.

“Last year, MSG leaders made a decision on the first application which was seen that they were not united, so they first need unity. So, we asked them to reapply,” he added.

MSG leaders will  meet and discuss this new application in the Solomon Islands in July.