Thank you Solomon Islands, sorry but why?

Members of the Solomon Islands delegation posing with caretaking Papua governor in his office. Photo supplied

DEAR EDITOR, we, West Papua civil society, consisting of people from Non-Government Organisations, youth, students, women, and indigenous peoples, welcome the government and civil society delegates from the Solomon Islands to our country, West Papua.

We sincerely apologise that because we are not free to express ourselves in the land of our ancestors we cannot welcome you well and honourably as Melanesian relatives.

To be honest we just heard about this visit.

We did not expect this visit would be arranged secretly and unilaterally by the government of Indonesia through its foreign ministry.

We deeply regret that the government of Indonesia did not officially notify the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, a fellow Melanesian Spearhead Group member, of the planned visit.

This visit also reminds us of a similar visit led by the former Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Mr Gordon Lilo in 2014, which was organised silently by the Indonesian government and military without any involvement or connection to civil society.

We therefore, question the intent and purpose of this visit.

We, civil society of West Papua, express our support to the ULMWP as the organisation who represents our political aspirations and is advocating for West Papuans’ right to self-determination, which has been denied by the Indonesian government and international community for over 50 years.

We insist that the government of Indonesia and other states respect that right.

We wish to emphasise that since West Papua has been forced into shackles through the 1969 Act of NO Choice, there have been human rights violations, forced seizure of Indigenous lands for large mines, oil, gas, and oil palm plantations, transmigration programmes and mega agriculture projects, all in the name of development.

All these have harmed the people of West Papua, by creating conflict, depriving us of our land and ability to manage our own resources, and human rights violations.

The presence of the Indonesian military and police has disrupted the lives of our people causing havoc and gross violence all for the sake of foreign investment and capitalist’ interests.

The flow of population from outside West Papua is increasing and our people are becoming a minority and marginalised.

Therefore, we fully ask all parties to respect the rights of the West Papuan people to self-determination.

We ask this for the sake of the survival of the Melanesian people in West Papua, your family.

We hope that during this short visit, the Solomon Island government delegation can see, hear and experience firsthand, the reality of the Melanesian people in the land of West Papua.

That is our statement, yours sincerely, the undersigned civil society community of West Papua.

Sincerely, from Jayapura, April 25, 2018, Forum Independen Mahasiswa (FIM), Solidaritas Nasional Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Papua (SONAMAPA), Parlemen Jalanan (PARJAL), Asosiasi Mahasiswa Pegunungan Tengah Papua se-Indonesia (AMPTPI), Komite Nasional Papua Barat (KNPB), Elsham Papua, Gabah Papua, Kolektif Perempuan Papua, Garda Papua, and Dewan Adat Papua.

Signed West Papua Civil Society

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