21 February 2013

West Papua Coalition Applies For Melanesian Spearhead Group Membership

Delegation hopeful move will encourage Indonesia to resolve issues

By Ricky Binihi
Vanuatu Daily Post

PORT VILA, Vanuatu  The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat has received the application from the West Papua Coalition for Liberation for West Papua to become full member of the MSG.

Director General of MSG Peter Forau will now send the application to the Chairman of the MSG, Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, and he along with other Melanesian Leaders will make a decision on the request.

Daily Post contacted the office of the Director General of the MSG to ask when that decision will be made but Mr. Forau could not be contacted as he was at a meeting Friday morning.

A press statement from the West Papua office in Port Vila said Mr. Forau’s role is only facilitating the process, but he has no decision on the issue but still wished the WPNCL well in its pursuit of membership.

WPNCL submitted the application for membership at the MSG headquarters on Wednesday.

The Delegation consisted of Vice Chairman, Secretary General, Head of the Vanuatu Mission, a Women Representative and Students and Youth Representative.

They were accompanied by former Prime Minister and staunch advocate for West Papuan independence, Barak Sope and a Representative from the FLNKS of Kanaky/New Caledonia.

Vice Chairman of WPNCL Dr. John Ondawame said that this was a historic occasion that also marks the beginning of our concerted efforts this year to advance the cause.

"We hope this will encourage Indonesia to take necessary steps to resolve the issue. Being a member is also natural because we are an inseparable part of the Melanesian family. For years our efforts to take the issue back to the UN was hindered by lack of official support by the Independent States in Melanesia," Dr. Ondawame said.

Head of the Vanuatu Mission of WPNCL, Mr. Andy Ayamiseba added that being a member is a confirmation of our identity as Melanesian people.

"We cannot deny this fact to our future generations," Mr. Ayamiseba said in the statement.

Women Representative, Bernarda Edoway Douw made a compassionate plea for West Papuan women, mothers and children who she said had suffered in silence year after year.

"The Papuan women are discriminated against in the market place in the employment sector and in education opportunities. Being a member will raise the profile of West Papua especially for the women," the Papuan women representative who was here too for the MSG Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Mr. Amatus Douw speaking on behalf of the West Papua students and youths highlighted the real life experience of marginalization in West Papua. He stated that population decline is caused by a deliberate policy of the Indonesian government.

Mr. Sope elaborated on the historical facts of the creation of the MSG.

He said it was created at the time when there was bloody resistance in Kanaky and our efforts to address the issue did not receive a desired resolve by many governments. For the Melanesian countries it is a serious issue and the only way to find a solution is by members discussing it together and decide on the best way forward. He reiterated that the former New Hebrides had to seek help from another independent Melanesia country in this case Fiji to facilitate our efforts at the UN Decolonization Committee.

"Now we have more independent Melanesian countries that can do more for West Papua" Mr. Sope said.

Mr. Sope added that even the UN Decolonization Committee was specifically established for the independency struggles.

"Countries who are members in the Committee are there because they support self-determination for colonized peoples. If a member is against these objectives they must be in the wrong Committee," the former Vanuatu PM Sope said.

The Secretary General, Mr. Rex Rumakiek stated that being a member of this sub regional institution carries heavy responsibilities which WPNCL fully understands.

"Even though not on the same level as governments, given the opportunity WPNCL will do its best to shoulder the same responsibilities with the other members to protect Melanesia against harmful external threats such as terrorism, illegal trade, distortion of social ecology and bio diversity, economic domination and unfair trade practices," the WPNCL Secretary said.

Bermuda elected as Chair of the UK Overseas Territories Association

Premier Cannonier takes over 
UK Overseas Territories Association presidency

Royal Gazette

Bermuda has for the first time been elected to lead the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) in the UK.

During a meeting on Thursday, Bermuda, through representative Kimberly Durrant, was elected to the role of Chairman in the organisation which was created to promote cooperation among the overseas territories.

In accordance with the UKOTA Constitution Premier Craig Cannonier will assume the position as President of the Political Council.

The Political Council is the highest body of the Association which consists of Leaders or Representatives of each Member Government.

Revealing the news in a statement yesterday, the Premier said: “I am delighted with the regard in which Bermuda is held within UKOTA.

“There are many areas of mutual interest in which we can share knowledge and experience to our collective benefit.

“I look forward to my tenure as President of the Political Council and in particular how it seeks to shape the nature of engagement with the United Kingdom Government in matters of importance to the OTs.”

Ms Durrant, the Director of the Island’s London Office, said the organisation has always taken pride in giving all participating nation equal representation, regardless of size.

“I am honoured to have been elected to the position of Chairman and to have gained the respect and confidence of my fellow colleagues and Governments of the Overseas Territories,” she said.