Pacific Media Watch

19 February 2015

WEST PAPUA: Micah says PM 'serious' on shift over repression

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Minister Ben Micah ... strong supporter of West Papuan self-determination. Image: Business Advantage PNG

PORT MORESBY (PNG Post-Courier/Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinea Enterprises and State Investment Minister Ben Micah has rejected suggestions that the Prime Minister's announcement of a policy shift on West Papua was a knee-jerk announcement.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced on February 5 at a Leadership Summit that it was time for Papua New Guinea to speak out on the oppression of "our brothers and sisters" in West Papua.

Since this announcement, the mainstream and social media had been reporting support for this major shift in attitude to Melanesians living under Indonesian rule.

There had however been certain critics who said this announcement was not well thought out and lacked a definite policy platform.

Micah is a long time avid supporter of a greater Melanesia, and the cause of the West Papua people. During Grievance Debate in Parliament on Friday, he seized the opportunity to hammer the critics.

"The Prime Minister did not speak about West Papua just to colour his speech. This is an issue he feels strongly about," Micah said.

He said the Prime Minister in fact discussed this issue when he met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during an official visit to Indonesia in 2013.

"I was with the Prime Minister when he raised the issue with President Susilo. In that meeting we agreed that there would be no peace or harmony if the West Papua issue was not given the attention it deserved.

"We will engage with the Indonesian Government to pursue this," he said.

Leaders who have been vocal about the plight of the West Papuan people include NCD Governor Powes Parkop, and Northern (Oro) Governor Gary Juffa.

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