Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Granting of full membership status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group is justifiable as Indonesia had sought membership of the regional bloc to only protect its own interest, says Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands.

Indonesia has no desire to engage in dialogue about the serious human rights issues in West Papua.

Sogavare reaffirmed these views at a media conference in Honiara after returning from Vanuatu where he had the opportunity to meet with his Vanuatu counterpart, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, and a delegation of leaders from the United Liberation Front for West Papua (ULMWP) at the sidelines of the 2023 Pacific Games bid presentation.

One of the issues discussed in the meeting between the two Melanesian prime ministers was a motion to be tabled by Prime Minister Salwai at the upcoming MSG Leaders’ summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, for granting of full MSG membership to ULMWP.

Prime Minister Sogavare registered his full support for this West Papua initiative.

In the meeting between Sogavare and the ULMWP delegation, the West Papuans presented a two-point petition for consideration by the MSG chair for discussion at the upcoming leaders’ summit.

The issues are the elevation of ULMWP’s membership of the MSG and a request to the United Nations for intervention in West Papua to neutralise the ever increasing rate of genocide there.

Sogavare told the media conference that Indonesia’s apparent rejection of the resolution reached by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Port Moresby in 2015 for the deployment of a fact-finding mission in West Papua as well as the Indonesian president’s refusal to meet with him in his capacity as the MSG chair to explain the position of the MSG on the issue of West Papua are strong grounds for elevating the status of ULMP to full membership.

‘No alternatives’
“Indonesia leaves the MSG no alternatives on bringing the West Papuan issues on the table for discussion, except to elevate the status of West Papua from observer status to full membership, so that the MSG Leaders can discuss the West Papuan issues more strategically,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare is adamant that Indonesia would continue to downplay West Papua human rights issues until a possible United Nations resolution on West Papua is achieved in the future.

He said as chair, the MSG would take on board such matters as priority issues to address.

The prime minister said fresh accounts of ongoing human rights violations in West Papua are continuing to emerge.

However, the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet him in Jakarta to convey the MSG’s position on West Papua is a clear indication that Indonesia has other reasons for joining MSG other than discussing West Papua human rights issues.

He said the Indonesian president’s noncommittal attitude warrants the MSG to take the matter up to the next notch – the United Nations for intervention.

Prime Minister Sogavare said he was aware that said since the ULMWP was granted an observer status of the MSG in 2015, the situation in West Papua had became more tense.

This was leaving the indigenous people now at the brink of extinction.

Last week, while in Port Vila, Prime Minister Sogavare said Indonesia had refused his request for dialogue gave him all the reason to take this matter back to the MSG, adding that Indonesia had crossed the line so we need to take some tough steps.