Let the world see what’s going on in Papua
Vanuatu, a small Pacific island nation, has often attacked Indonesia for alleged human rights violations in Papua.
The latest attack came during the recent United Nations General Assembly by its Prime Minister Bob Loughman Weibur.
In his speech, Weibur called on world leaders to help protect the rights of Melanesians who he said remained under colonial rule in Papua.
He accused Indonesia of committing serious abuses against the Papuan people and called on the United Nations to investigate them.
He also called on the Indonesian government to allow an independent mission to visit Papua to investigate alleged human rights violations.
Although he did not specify what the abuses were, accusing Indonesia of crimes at a global forum was a blow to Jakarta.
Decades of discrimination under the Indonesian government have encouraged the Papuan liberation movement to look to the MSG for support in their struggle for self-determination
Sindy Nur Fitry, Indonesian diplomat at the UN, said Vanuatu’s accusations were baseless, politically motivated and contrary to the interests of the Papuan people.
She also accused Vanuatu of showing more interest in supporting armed groups like the West Papua National Liberation Army, which Jakarta has called a terrorist group, rather than caring about the civilians the armed separatists have killed.
The country of 314,000 people accuses Indonesia of committing gross human rights violations in Papua at the UN since 2016, when the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) pledged to raise the status of the United Movement West Papua Liberation Movement (ULMWP) from observer to full member of the body.
Founded in 1986 with its headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, MSG is an intergovernmental organization comprising Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. To date, it represents a combined population of 11.3 million people.
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Indonesia was accepted as an associate member in 2015 after four years of observer status. At the same time, the Papuan liberation movement obtained observer status.
Initially, the grouping was aimed at fostering economic cooperation among its members, but over time it morphed into a Melanesian political engine, hitting the heads of the Indonesian government and the Papuan liberation movement.
In recent years, he has become more concerned with the Papuans’ struggle against the controversial New York agreement in 1962 that allowed Indonesia to annex Papua and a controversial referendum in 1969.
Decades of discrimination under the Indonesian government have encouraged the Papuan liberation movement to look to the MSG for support in their struggle for self-determination.
In October 2016, it was reported that the chair of the MSG – Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands – had announced in a meeting with prominent Papuan leaders that in December of that year Papua would become a member. full part of the organization. However, five years later, this symbolic gesture of recognition has yet to take place.
The government of Vanuatu, to avoid being accused of making false promises, is diverting attention by highlighting Indonesia’s “sins” against Papuans and calling on world leaders to put pressure on Jakarta.
Weibur was convinced his attack on the Indonesian government would be damaging because two weeks earlier the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had criticized the mistreatment of Papuan activists in Jakarta.
In a report released on September 17, the UN human rights body included Indonesia among 45 countries persecuting human rights defenders.
He specifically highlighted Indonesia’s intimidation and mistreatment of Papuan human rights activists, including Wensislaus Fatubun of the Papuan People’s Congress, journalist Victor Mambor, human rights lawyer male Veronica Koman and Victor Yeimo, the spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee who was arrested in May and charged with treason and inciting riots.
Indonesia’s response remains virtually the same – defensive and dishonest in calling Vanuatu’s accusation baseless and turning a blind eye to the real situation that various reports have highlighted.
He said the Indonesian government is still using treason charges against political activists exercising free speech.
International groups – including religious groups – and the media have reported human rights violations in Papua since the 1960s.
In 2017, the International Coalition for Papua, which includes Franciscans International, the World Council of Churches and Pax Romana, released a report on the worsening human rights situation in Papua.
He said the Indonesian government still uses treason charges against political activists exercising free speech and the use of torture and ill-treatment to silence political protests.
The coalition said arrests quadrupled from 1,083 in 2015 to 5,361 in 2016, mostly during peaceful protests in support of the ULMWP.
Vanuatu probably referred to this report when it started criticizing Indonesia.
The Indonesian government still defends itself against such reports and denies accusations of abusing the rights of MSG members, saying they are being deceived by people with separatist goals. However, Jakarta has yet to prove Vanuatu’s claims and the OHCHR report is false.
The only way for Jakarta to prove that the alleged abuses are false allegations is to allow the UN special rapporteurs to visit Papua and investigate what is really going on there.
If this is not done, more countries will likely follow Vanuatu in trying to hold Indonesia to account on human rights issues in Papua.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
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