10 April 2013

West Papua support group supports Vanuatu regional membership

The Vanuatu West Papua Support Group, based in Port Vila, is organizing a petition in support of the mission by the visiting West Papua Independence campaigner, Benny Wenda, being signed by chiefs from all the 63 inhabited islands of Vanuatu.

Representative of the group and well known activist, Hilda Lini says it is planned to present the petition to the Members of Parliament current in session and the Government of Vanuatu.

“The petition will request the Government to provide strong leadership and support for West Papua to become a full member of the MSG this year,” Ms Lini said.

“The MSG leaders’ summit will be held in June this year which means that after we present the petition, we should monitor the situation to make certain that Vanuatu’s support for West Papua’s application for full membership is upheld by the Government right up to that time,” Ms. Lini who is also First Political Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The idea of a petition is the result of local support expressed at a public meeting that West Papua international activist Benny Wenda held at the Chiefs’ nakamal in Port Vila on Tuesday evening.

Overwhelming public sentiment was evident at the meeting for the Government of Vanuatu to give its full backing to West Papua’s application for full membership of the MSG.

In his address Mr Wenda spoke of the desperate situation facing the Melanesian population in West Papua and made an emotional appeal to the people and Government of Vanuatu to continue to show their strong support for the independence of West Papua.

“Vanuatu is our only beacon of hope at the moment and I appeal to you to continue your strong support for us by first getting us into the region through full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group for West Papua,” Wenda said.

Mr Wenda left the country Thursday morning after five days in Port Vila during which he addressed Parliament members, met other dignitaries and visited and spoke to people from a wide cross section of the communities.