05 Maret 2012

Natapei clarifies stand on West Papua

By,Thompson Marango

Father Walter Lini’s vision about the freedom of the colonized people of West Papua when Vanuatu gained its independence has changed after Vanuatu formed diplomatic ties with Indonesia.

According to Deputy Opposition Leader, Edward Natapei, this was why Vanuatu could no longer “say anything we want in United Nations meetings”.
This is Natapei’s clarifications concerning why he could not bring up the Wantok Bill that was passed unopposed in Parliament during the United Nations General Assembly when he was Prime Minister.

Natapei made this comment during the Lini Day commemoration at Seaside this week which was also attended by members of the Free West Papua Association and Free West Papua supporters.

“I must say that during Father Walter’s time when he was speaking about the West Papuan issue in international meetings such as the UN, the West Papuan situation was different in a sense that Vanuatu still has no diplomatic relations with Indonesia,” said the Deputy Opposition Leader.

“So we can say anything at the United Nations meetings, unfortunately somewhere along the way we established relations with Indonesia,” he added.

MP Natapei explained that when he was Prime Minister there was a lot of pressure for the government to abide by international rules and protocols which makes it difficult for him to say anything else other than to speak out about the human rights violations in West Papua.

The clarifications came amidst mixed feelings from Free West Papuan supporters as the Wantok Bill which was passed in Parliament during Natapei’s term as prime minister brought along higher hopes concerning the liberation of West Papua from Indonesia.

But Natapei stressed that the decision taken at that time was that the best approach would be to take up the issue in the Melanesian Spearheard Group (MSG) first, then the Pacific Islands Forum, and seek further support from African and Caribbean Nations before the issue can be brought up in the UN meeting.

“Unfortunately when my Government was in power there was no MSG meeting because of the issue of Chairmanship between myself and my friend Bainimarama,” said Natapei.

Meanwhile earlier this year, the deputy opposition leader has told a visiting West Papuan delegation that any future government that includes his Vanua’aku Pati would review the development co-operation agreement with Indonesia.

The agreement also recognizes Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua and states that the signatory countries must not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.

He has also assured that a Vanuatu government led by the Vanu’aku Pati would help West Papua achieve observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum.

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