Vanuatu support encourages West Papuans for talks

West Papuans are happy that Vanuatu's positive support for them at the Melanesian Spearhead Group will continue despite the change of government.

From Radio New Zealand


The secretary general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says he is confident in Vanuatu's support, despite the change in government.

Vanuatu got a new government 12 days ago after a vote of no confidence.

The ULMWP's Octo Mote is in Port Vila ahead of this week's Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in neighbouring Solomon Islands, where the West Papuan group will be pushing for full membership of the MSG.

The leaders of the MSG, representing Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Kanaks of New Caledonia, meet this week in Honiara.

At least two of the countries are pushing for the ULMWP to get observer status.  

Vanuatu got a new government 12 days ago after a vote of no confidence and Don Wiseman asked Mr Mote if he feared it would change its pro-West Papua stance.

OCTO MOTE: No, I don't think so. Because the support of the Vanuatu government is not depending on political parties or any political leader. This is the nation's support, and it is already passing the bill in parliament, deciding their founding father of the nation Walter Lini's commitment from the beginning of this formation of this great nation. So I don't see any change - the change is in the form of the approach with the Indonesian government, how we would deal with the government, that's the only difference.

DON WISEMAN: We know that at least two of the key members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group have indicated that they are thinking observer status for your group. If you were to get observer status is that enough?

OM: For us, of course we're calling for the full membership and we know that we qualify for it. But at the end the leaders are the ones who make decisions and for us, we make the case that we present to them that this is really a human rights situation. In five years from now, the population will be at 23 percent and we will lose everything. So really for us we're calling their support because we are not facing the common colonial as they used to experience, all the other members. But this is the brutal government and then they build up the military, they slaughtered people, and you know, last month alone 400 Papuans alone arrested who are supporting our occupation. So we need leaders to understand about the situation about the human rights and the Melanesian custom should be their priority to make a judgement - it's not about interfering with sovereignty this is about human rights violations.

DW: But would you be satisfied this time around with observer status?

OM: We will take any position the leaders will think is the best. But of course as a political leader myself I will fight for full membership because we know that's the only way to stop this crime against humanity.

DW: There are continuing questions being asked by some parties about whether or not the ULMWP is fully representative.

OM: Oh yes, 100 percent we are fully representative, by procedures, when we elected, there was representation of the three main political parties that exist in West Papua and it was facilitated by Pacific Council of Churches and then financed by the Vanuatu government, and then also demonstrated by the mass rally taking place in West Papua since February since we lodge our application and then as I said last month alone 400 Papuans arrested all over West Papua. And then we have 150,000 petition signatures with organisation and name and everything, we already present today in the foreign ministers meeting in Honiara. We are the only institution that will represent our Papuans struggle - there's no doubt about it.


Photo: West Papuan Octo Mote who is in Honiara for the MSG talks. Photo courtesy Radio NZ.