Pacific Media Watch

7 August 2010

REGION: West Papua warns of intifada against Jakarta after PIF 'failure'

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PNG 'betrayal' upsets West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.

Ben Bohane

PORT VILA: West Papuan leaders are warning of a "total intifada" in their Indonesian-ruled homeland, saying the failure of the Pacific Islands Forum to discuss their independence may mean the end of its diplomatic attempts to resolve their plight peacefully.

They are disappointed that Vanuatu, as the new chair, did not address the matter as promised but they have also singled out Papua New Guinea for "betraying" them with its insistence on Indonesian sovereignty.

"We feel betrayed by Papua New Guinea and its grand thief - not chief - Sir Michael Somare," said Dr John Ondawame, a spokesman for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.

"Pacific leaders continue to be bribed by Indonesia, diplomacy is failing and it will be very difficult for our political leaders to contain our OPM [guerilla] forces after these ongoing diplomatic failures. We are close to declaring a total intifada in Papua."

Vanuatu is the only nation to have backed the West Papuans. Last month its Parliament passed a bill declaring that Vanuatu would take the issue to both the International Court of Justice and the United Nations General Assembly later this year.

Last year, West Papua was close to gaining observer status with the sub-regional Melanesian Spearhead Group, which groups Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

It was blocked by Somare, the PNG Prime Minister, whose lone dissenting voice scuttled the deal, since the vote had to be unanimous.

Papuan leaders also warned the forum leaders to be wary of Indonesian influence, claiming Indonesia is playing "a double game" as it also had its ambassador to Fiji attend that country's rival "Engaging Fiji" meeting.

Observers say Indonesia is concerned that Vanuatu chairs both the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum, given its support for West Papua.

Indonesian support for Frank Bainimarama's rival forum in Fiji might be a way of undermining the forum if it continues to push the West Papuan  

Indonesia has sent a delegation to the forum in Port Vila and West Papuan leaders say Indonesia's intelligence agency is also sending a senior official to speak to the Vanuatu government. - The Sydney Morning Herald Herald/Pacific Media Watch

Pacific Media Watch

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