Papuans concerned at Indonesian overtures to MSG
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has questioned Indonesia's increased diplomatic overtures to Melanesian countries.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua says that while Indonesia increases diplomatic links to Melanesian countries, its security forces continue to brutalise Papuans.
The Liberation Movement was last year granted observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, while Indonesia was given associate member status.
However Indonesia's Political and Security Affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan visited Papua New Guinea and Fiji last week to lobby for greater participation by Jakarta.
Minister Luhut indicated that Jakarta was aiming to "aggressively explain" to Pacific states about the conditions in Indonesia what it has been doing in the area of human rights.
However, Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission last month stated that in the past year more than 700 West Papuans had been persecuted through being arrested, beaten, and tortured by security forces.
The Liberation Movement's Benny Wenda spoke to Johnny Blades, who asked him about Indonesia's outreach and assistance packages to PNG and Fiji.
BENNY WENDA: The bilateral agreements like trade, yes that's up to the Papua New Guineans and Fijians but from my point of view, this is like a bridge, like Indonesia is using this as a good bridge to convince the Papua New Guineans and Fijians. But one of the things that I always argue [is] why now? Why now, but before never? When we become a member of the MSG, observer status, and they're trying to use that issue to engage more with Melanesians and Pacific countries while they're killing our people and they're more campaigning for their investments, business and things and they're trying to trade. But all the while killing Melanesian people and that is undermining what Indonesia does to pretend they're good guys. But I'm not criticise what Indonesia has contributed to the Fijians for the cyclone [Winston]. But on the other hand, using this issue... trying to pressurise, look, we're giving you money but don't talk about West Papua. We don't know, that's under the carpet, but that's my view. The West Papua issue is a Melanesian issue, it's nothing to do with Indonesia. And the fact that Minister Luhut [once said] that we don't need you, you go where you come from, that is what he already stated. And this dates back to 1960s, one of the generals called Ali Murtopo, said Papuans, we don't need you, if you need island go to the Pacific or go to the moon or go to America. It's repeated again. And so that's why my argument is that Indonesia is not really interested in the people of Melanesia's suffering under their colony. So they just need our resources. So in fact all the resources they are using to kill us and trying to be good guys. So that's not make us a setback but give us confidence, more to convince our brothers and sisters in Melanesia that West Papua issue is a Melanesia issue and a Pacific issue, and we are the Pacific family.
JOHNNY BLADES: It seems in the Indonesian media that minister Luhut is claiming PNG and Fiji are going to support their bid to become full members of the MSG, do you know?
BW: I'm not sure at the moment, because that is just trying to claim, trying to convince the PNG and Fiji governments. But I'm sure that ordinary people in PNG and Fiji are really supportive, one hundred percent, of west Papuan full membership and that's from before, until today. That's why I'm really confident that West Papua issue is still there. But I don't know about Minister Luhut's claim. But that depends on whether PNG and Fiji want to support that or not, that's up to the two governments. But MSG stands for the Melanesian peoples, it's nothing to do with Indonesia. And MSG on principle, Indonesia has no right to stand in the way of what decision must be made by Melanesians for Melanesian people.
JB: This claim that the people in Jakarta keep making, about having 11 million Melanesians within the republic, including Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara, do you believe that people in those provinces - even if they have Melanesian stock - do they identify as being Melanesians?
BW: Look, this makes me laugh. They have never campaigned for... they never think about their identity as Melanesia. They more look the Indonesia. They feel they are Indonesia, so I have never seen those islands, those two or three provinces that you mention campaign for membership in the Melanesian family. No, they are more Indonesian, they claim, nothing to do with the Melanesians. They are more happy with Indonesia rather than Melanesia. So when we become part of the MSG, then Indonesia [started thinking] okay let's use some of the outer islands. They may have Melanesians but they never campaigned for membership because they never feel they are Melanesian. That's from beginning until today.