President Wenda: ULMWP welcomes MSG call for UN visit and continues fight for full membership

On behalf of the ULMWP, I welcome the call from the MSG Leaders’ Summit for Indonesia to allow the long-awaited visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to West Papua. I hope that the MSG Chair will honour the commitment to write to Indonesia as a matter of urgency, as every day that international intervention is delayed sees more West Papuans suffer and more Melanesian blood spilt.

Even in the run up to the MSG summit, with the eyes of the Pacific region on human rights in West Papua, Indonesia brutally cracked down on peaceful rallies in favour of ULMWP full membership, arresting dozens and killing innocent civilians. As an Associate Member of the MSG, Indonesia must respect the Chair’s demand. If they continue to deny the UN access, they will be in violation of the unified will of the Melanesian region. As the Leaders’ Communique stated, the UN visit must occur this year, in order for the Commissioner’s report to be put before the next MSG summit in 2024.

I also welcome the MSG’s commitment that they will write to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Chair to ensure that the UN visit is undertaken. PIF must honour this call and do all they can to guarantee a UN visit. We must remember that the UN visit has already been demanded by over 85 states, including all Melanesian states as members of PIF, and the 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States.

Four years ago, Pacific leaders described West Papua as a ‘festering human rights sore‘ and called for UN intervention as soon as possible. Since then, we have seen 100,000 West Papuans displaced by Indonesian military operations, villages depopulated and burned, and massacres in Wamena, Timika and elsewhere. And yet Indonesia has come no closer to allowing the United Nations access. Mere words are clearly not enough: the MSG Leaders’ Summit must be the trigger for international pressure of such overwhelming force that Indonesia has no choice but to allow a UN visit.

Though we are disappointed to have been denied full membership on this occasion, our spirit is strong and our commitment to returning home to our Melanesian family is undiminished. We are not safe with Indonesia, and will only find security by standing together with our Pacific brothers and sisters. Full membership is our birthright: culturally, linguistically, ethnically, and in our values, we are undeniably and proudly Melanesian.

Papua Merdeka. God bless our people and our struggle.

Benny Wenda

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