Pacific Media Watch

9 August 2019

WEST PAPUA: PNG capital's governor wants referendum on independence

Port Moresby National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop ... long a supporter of the Morning Star flag, banned in Indonesia, and of Papuan aspirations. Image: Masalai Files

PORT MORESBY (RNZ Pacific/Pacific Media Watch): The governor of Papua New Guinea's National Capital District wants Indonesia to allow West Papua to undertake an independence referendum.

In a statement, Powes Parkop also backed a call from Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Papua at next week's Forum leaders summit.

Parkop said the crisis in Papua had escalated due to Pacific nations letting fear of Indonesia dictate their approach to it.

He said the Melanesian Spearhead Group should also accept an application for full membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

"Indonesia must realise that when it chooses to restore the rights and dignity of the West Papuan people it will unleash great joy."

Parkop said he had delivered the same message on West Papua to PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare.

According to him, he planned to also deliver it to the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the US, adding that he had requested a meeting with Indonesia's government.

Jakarta says Papua's incorporation into the Indonesian republic is final and non-negotiable.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has welcomed a resolution by Pacific foreign ministers to push for a UN Human Rights office visit to Papua.

In January, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Indonesia's government agreed in principle for a team from her office to visit Papua.

However, Pacific Forum members are concerned that the invitation is not being honoured.

Forum foreign ministers have called for the timing of the visit by to be finalised by both parties.

They also seek for a report on the Papua situation to be presented before the next Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in 2020.

The Liberation Movement's chairman, Benny Wenda, urged Pacific Forum leaders to endorse this call at their summit in Tuvalu.

Wenda said such a stand reflected the values at the heart of the Blue Pacific campaign to develop a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity where all Pacific people can lead free healthy and productive lives.

According to him, Pacific civil society networks continue to provide support to Forum leaders and governments regarding the human rights issues of West Papua.

This article is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand

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