Vanuatu says New Zealand should get on the right side of history and support West Papuan self-determination. However, reports James Halpin of Asia Pacific Journalism, Indonesian diplomacy with its Pacific allies Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are defiantly undermining Pacific “solidarity” on the issue.
Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu has called on New Zealand to get on the right side of history when it comes to West Papua.
Reaffirming President Salwai’s remarks at the UN General Assembly late last month, Regenvanu told Asia Pacific Report that the “people of Vanuatu have never had the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination, which is an unalienable right under international law, and they must be given that opportunity”.
Independence for Vanuatu was achieved from the co-colonisers France and the United Kingdom in 1980.
West Papua had been a colony of the Dutch New Guinea but was annexed by Indonesia after a paratrooper “invasion” in 1962 followed by a UN-supervised vote in 1969 described by critics as fraudulent.
Asked why Vanuatu has taken the lead in advocating for West Papua, Regenvanu says:
“We take this position because of our historical solidarity with the people of West Papua – we were once together and the struggles as colonies trying to become independent; we achieved ours and we will not forget our brothers-and-sisters-in-arms who have not got theirs.”
For President Salwai and Regenvanu, the recent Pacific Islands Forum was a failure at gaining Pacific support for West Papuan self-determination.
“We are disappointed at the position of Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia to vocally oppose self-determination for West Papua. We are pleased that most other countries support self-determination, however.”
Regenvanu also criticises New Zealand for not following the advice that it gives to Pacific Island countries.
New Zealand should, “actively support with actions on this issue the ‘international rules-based order’ it is always promoting to PICs”.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group, which shares an ethnicity with the people of West Papua, has also failed at achieving solidarity over the issue.
“PNG and Fiji have strong ties to Indonesia and work actively to ensure the MSG does not address the issue.”
End colonialism call
President Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas introduced the issue of West Papua to the UN General Assembly this year.
“For half a century now, the international community has been witnessing a gamut of torture, murder, exploitation, sexual violence, arbitrary detention inflicted on the nationals of West Papua perpetrated by Indonesia.”
“We also call on our counterparts throughout the world to support the legal right of West Papua to self-determination.”
For President Salwai, it is an issue of justice and equality for the people of West Papua,
“I would like to get back to the principles in the charter of the United Nations to reaffirm that we believe in the fundamental rights of human beings in dignity and worth of the human person and in equality of rights between men and women and nations large and small.”
President Salwai has been the flag bearer of West Papuan self-determination. His aim is for West Papua to be placed back onto the decolonisation list under the UN charter.
However, President Salwai was supported by two other Pacific leaders, Marshall Islands’ President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands, and Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu.
Sopoaga said: “The United Nations must also engage with the people of West Papua to find lasting solutions to their struggles.”
President Heine staid that Pacific Island countries supported constructive engagement on the issue.
At the 2016 UN General Assembly, seven countries stated their supported for West Papuan self-determination. These were: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Palau.
Decolonisation has become an important part of foreign relations in the Pacific with the New Caledonian independence vote on November 4.
After hundreds of years of European colonisation, the UN has provided a platform for and facilitated the self-determination of indigenous peoples across the world.
The Indonesian delegation denounced Vanuatu at the UN General Assembly just days ago. The Indonesia delegation used the entirety of their second right of reply in the general debate to deplore Vanuatu’s support for West Papuan self-determination.
“Although being disguised with flowery human rights concern, Vanuatu’s sole intention and action are directly challenging the internationally agreed principles of friendly relations between state, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” UN General Assembly Vice-President Muhammad Kalla said on behalf of his country.
He said: “Like any other country, Indonesia will firmly defend its territorial integrity.”
The Indonesian representative, Aloysius Taborat, said: “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the cardinal rule in the relation among nations and in the United Nations”.
However, critics say Indonesia’s handling of West Papua’s vote in the 1969Act of Free Choice “was rigged” so that West Papua would vote to join Indonesia. Therefore, many see hypocrisy in Indonesia’s words, including in their reputation over press freedom.
Human rights abuses are a common occurrence in West Papua, according to human rights organisations. Simply raising the West Papuan flag can result in 15-years imprisonment.(*)
James Halpin is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies course at AUT. He is filing articles in the Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies paper.
HIV/AIDS transmission in Jayapura Regency claimed to decline
Sentani, Jubi – Jayapura Health Office claims HIV/AIDS cases in Jayapura Regency has declined with only 3,202 cases occurred until last year.
“HIV/AIDS prevention is a complex issue. It would not only the responsibility of the health office, but all parties should contribute in educating the community,” said Pungut Sunarto, the Division Head of Disease Prevention and Management of the Jayapura Regional Health Office, on Tuesday (21/1/2020).
People living with HIV/AIDS in Jayapura Regency are mostly the productive age group ranging from 20-49 years old. There are also infants and children among patients.
“We are always updating the report on people living with HIV/AIDS [in our region]. If not, they would not be able to access the ARV,” said Pungut.
He further said that the family plays a crucial role in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission. Similarly, he continued, life endurance among people living with HIV/AIDS depends on the support from their closest family.
“Those living with HIV/AIDS who regularly take their medicines (ARV) can reduce their medicine (ARV) can reduce the risk of virus transmission. So, please do not blame and stigmatise them,” said Pungut.
Meanwhile, a Sentani resident Edison Sineri agrees that parents have a significant role in preventing their children from behaviours that likely lead to the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexual diseases.
“Currently, young people are easily get involved in promiscuity that difficult to control by parents. It possibly leads them to negative behaviours.” (*)
Reporter: Yance Wenda
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Lawyers question commitment over Papuan political prisoners’ right
Nabire, Jubi – The Papua Coalition for Law Enforcement and Human Rights urges the attorney general to fulfil the right of health for seven political prisoners detained in Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur and consider it as a neglection of the prisoners’ rights.
“We release this statement after one of our clients experienced vomiting blood. He had an internal disease issue,” said the Coordinator Emanuel Gobay on Friday (24/1/2020).
The coalition team asks the Papuan Attorney General’s commitment to providing the right of health to the prisoners as previously promised. It never occurred. Indeed, the Attorney General has neglected their family’s right to visit.
“If the seven detainees were in Papua, of course, their family can come to visit and find an alternative for health treatment.
Therefore, Gobay urges the Attorney General of Papua to recall the seven political prisoners to Jayapura. He said the security issue is no longer relevant as a reason to allocate their trial outside of Papua.
“It is unfair (for the seven detainees) referred that all the trial hearings of anti-racism case held in Papua. All those trials are going well and safe,” asserted Gobay.
Meanwhile, a coalition member Oktovianus Tabuni added that in principle the seven political prisoners are respecting their legal process. However, they want to have their trial in Papua.
“The principle of a trial is to have a timely and low-cost process. Do not let it (the trial) float up like what has been happening now,” said Tabuni. (*)
Reporter: Titus Ruban
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Autonomy budget cut off, Jayawijaya Government reduce supplementary feeding budget
Wamena, Jubi – The Government of Jayawijaya Regency has reduced the number of schools to receive funding on the Supplementary Feeding Program (PMTAS). The reduction relates to the Special Autonomy Funds cut off for the PON (the National Games) 2020
Nurlili, an official at the Jayawijaya Village Community Empowerment Office (DPMK), said last year the program was running in five schools in Napua, Maima, Musaftaf, Wita Waya and Wadangku subdistricts.
“There allocate for only two schools this year because of the budget cut off for the PON. We depend on the Special Autonomy Funds for this program,” Nurlili said in Wamena on Tuesday (21/1/2020).
In 2020, the local government plans to implement the program in four sub-districts, namely Asolokobal, Wesaput, Muliama and Tagime. “But, Muliama and Tagime sub-districts are a bit far, so we decided to implement the program in the zone two, namely in SD YPPK Hepuba in Asolokobal Sub-district and SD Inpres Wesaput in Wesaput Subdistrict,” he said.
The budget allocation for PMTAS Year 2020 reduced from IDR 857 million to IDR 468 million.
However, Nurlili hopes that in February they can conduct training for teachers and women at sub-districts and village levels on healthy food for children.
“At the end of the training, we will purchase some items that are not available in sub-districts and villages to deliver in March. They will be cooking food for the pupils, and we will monitor its implementation. There will be a payment for the cooks, but they should submit the report first,” he said.
In addition to food ingredients, the local government also provides cash for schools to purchase some food from the local markets to help the cash flow of villages and sub-districts.
“This program is very critical because President Jokowi has instructed us to decrease stunting among children. Therefore, we allocate the PMTAS for the primary school children because it is their growth period,” he said. (*)
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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