BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
SPOKESMAN for United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) (2018-2021) Mr Jacob Rumbiak has expressed his disappointment at an invitation sent to Indonesia for the upcoming Melanesian Arts Festival (MACFest).
Rumbiak said he came few months ago and approached the Director of Culture under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dennis Marita, who Rumbiak said had extended a welcome for them to take part in the 2018 MACFest.
However, since then, Rumbiak says there has been no communication with the director of culture. Not until he came to the country last week; only to be advised to instead see the ministry of foreign affairs (MFAET).
Mr Jacob Rumbiak said the invitation said to be sent will not be going to West Papua as a Melanesian group but Melanesia-Indonesia as ULMWP and Indonesia are both in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). When Indonesia has the right to come, ULMWP also has the right. ULMWP should have an invitation also going through him as the one working for them with the government of Solomon Islands to receive an invitation.
“After I received response I could not continue, for this issue, I hope the Solomon Islands West Papua Solidarity Group here can ask Hon Manasseh Sogavare to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs for an invitation. But then it is up to the SI Solidarity Group,” said Rumbiak.
Speaking with the Director of the Culture Department under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism during his recent visit, Mr Rumbiak received confirmation from him
Rumbiak, meanwhile, says that Mr Marita has reassured him of the welcome to the people of West Papua, which still stands, citing that ‘West Papua is part of the MACFest and there is no exception culturally, socially and physically as all are Melanesians’.
Marita said then that at the moment, they are waiting for advice and confirmation from the MFAET to get a correspondence to send the invitation through for West Papua.
“We do not wish to get political sentiments, we just want to see this festival as a cultural one being a time to share our cultures and remember them to learn and appreciate each other’s cultures. That is the main focus of the festival,” said Director Marita.
Rumbiak said that he will have to apologise to their delegation already preparing and explain that the process has changed and they should wait patiently for the right time hoping they would be picked to travel.