Monday, June 29, 2015

West Papua: Reading between #PNG’s diplomatic lines

Prime Minister O’Neill understands the tightrope balance he has to strike on the issue of West Papua particularly in managing the expectations of his fellow Melanesians.

When he gave the speech in February highlighting the need for the PNG government to advocate on human rights in West Papua, it was interpreted throughout the nation and regionally as a questioning of Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua. 

This interpretation appears in the following statement by Partners for Melanesia and its affiliates:

“We have recorded the speeches of the Hon. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself because as Melanesians we play “oral politics” and we stand by our Prime Minister on his statement, human rights and sovereignty equals freedom for West Papua.”

The Prime Minister however has been quick however to water down suggestions that the PNG government questions Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.
So how did the sovereignty issue pop up? The crux of the matter is with the ambiguity of the PM’s original speech back in February 2015. In it, the Prime Minister talked about PNG’s “moral obligation” to speak about events in West Papua without acknowledging Indonesian sovereignty.
Clearly what the Prime Minister had done could be interpreted as interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. His speech had therefore had the unintended consequence of adding impetus to the agenda of decolonizing West Papua.
Around the Pacific and in West Papua, many welcomed the speech by Prime Minister O’Neill.
The Prime Minister therefore had a lot of explaining to when the Indonesian President visited PNG. Over two-thirds of his welcome address at the state dinner hosted for President Widodo, was an explanation of the stance his government had taken regarding the West Papua question.
“For some years now I have been engaging in dialogue with our friends in Indonesia on issues relating to our relationship with Melanesians in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua,” he said during his speech at the state dinner.
Interestingly enough, O’Neill’s speech also raises further questions about the West Papua issue. Whilst vaguely acknowledging Indonesian sovereignty of West Papua, the Prime Minister talked about the desire to “welcome our Melanesian Brothers and Sisters from Papua and West Papua into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.” This he said must be done “with the endorsement of the Indonesian Government.”
Obviously West Papua has a unique history and special circumstances however the PM’s speech also recognises that, “Melanesians are the people of many countries.”
“We are the Melanesian people in the sovereign countries of Papua New Guinea, of Indonesia, of the Solomon Islands, of Australia, of Vanuatu, of New Caledonia, and of Fiji – and Melanesian people in other countries like Malaysia and Philippines,” O’Neill states.
A tricky question that arises is that why does the PNG Government think the Melanesian people in Indonesia should get special political treatment, but is silent on the same treatment of Melanesians in Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia?
The only other group of Melanesians receiving a similar treatment are the Kanaky of New Caledonia. Strangely enough, O’Neill doesn’t mention them in his speech. Is it because O’Neill envisages that West Papuans will inevitably follow the path taken by the New Caledonians who will soon be voting for Independence from France?


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Saturday, May 9, 2015

PNG Christians must call on Jokowi to Free West Papua

Next week the President of Indonesia visits PNG. This is an atheist’s interpretation of the theology of the West Papua issue

There is the famous story of the Good Samaritan that is told in the Bible. A story really not aimed at how Good the Samaritan was but what a bunch of hypocrites the Priest and the Levite were.

So the Biblical story goes that a man was robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road to die. Along came a priest, who just ignored the victim and passed by. Then came the Levite (a person from the priestly tribe), who also just walked past. Then came the Samaritan (the outcast) who rescued the victim and provided healthcare. According to the Bible, the Samaritan had done the most christian thing.

Well now lets apply this to West Papua. The people there are being robbed of their land and resources and are being raped, tortured and murdered by Indonesians. This has been going on for decades right across the border from PNG whilst the Priests (Churches) and Levites (Christians) in Papua New Guinea have hidden their heads in the sand like ostriches.

If there’s one reason why many Christians in PNG should rot in Hell, it’s because they did not do what the Good Samaritan did and speak up against the victimization of West Papuans.

To those idiots who turned up to welcome the 400 year old Bible, that was an act of idolatry. You all now need some penance and my suggestion is that you get your sinful asses down to the airport to “welcome” the President of Indonesia when he comes to visit PNG.

Remind that leader of a murderous nation that Melanesians in West Papua have always been free for over 50 000 years and have never ceded sovereignty to Indonesia. Remind Jokowi that it is time to let go of West Papua and end decades of colonial rule.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bali Deaths: Could Australian Federal Police potentially assist in implementing the Death Penalty in #PNG?



In the context of the execution of two young Australians in Indonesia, I wish to explore the potential that the Australian Government and the Australian Federal Police may be inadvertently involved in the implementation of the death penalty in PNG. Currently, there are dozens of Australian Federal Police officers serving in the rank and file of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

Firstly though, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to everyone who is mourning for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The two were unfortunate victims of a belief that under certain circumstances man can take the life of another man under the guise of the state.

My blog isn’t about the Indonesian legal system but the link that the executions in Bali have to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). It has been widely reported of course, that Indonesian Authorities were able to arrest the two following a tip off from the AFP. The pros and cons of this decision by the AFP have been widely debated and I do not wish to enter the fray.

What I believe is of interest to both Australians and Papua New Guineans is that as PNG moves towards implementing capital punishment, it seems inevitable that AFP advisors will be assisting their PNG colleagues from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary on criminal matters that carry the death penalty.

This obviously begs the question, in the context of what has happened in Bali, does the Australian public support the implementation of the death penalty in PNG under the watchful eyes of Australian Federal Police advisors?


I believe the Australian people and the Australian Government would not want to be seen to be assisting in executing Papua New Guineans. I would suggest therefore that the Australian people support local voices (particularly the Churches in PNG) that oppose the death penalty and that Canberra apply pressure on Port Moresby regarding the issue.