The National, Monday June 24th, 2013
THE issue of West Papua will continue to test the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s commitment to defend and promote independence as the inalienable right of indigenous people of Melanesia and promote their human rights, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare says.
In his keynote address to the Melanesian Spearhead Group silver jubilee celebration in New Caledonia last week, Sir Michael said there was strong and growing support among the MSG people for West Papua’s membership to MSG and its aspirations for self-determination.
“Obviously, the Papua New Guinea Government’s position on this issue will very much weigh on MSG’s considerations in terms of how it deals with West Papua,” Sir Michael said.
“For me personally, I believe that MSG should actively make representations to Indonesia to address the human rights abuses in West Papua.
“The MSG must involve West Papua in some of MSG’s cultural events, sporting activities and technical skills exchanges.
“West Papua, after all, has a significant Melanesian community.
“But should the MSG leaders decide on granting West Papua ‘membership’, in one form or another, it should be done only on the basis that it is a Melanesian community and not because MSG countries recognise West Papua as a sovereign, independent state,” he said.
He said if a decision was made for West Papua to be a ‘member’ of MSG, it was not hard to imagine this serving as a venue for both Indonesia and West Papua to have dialogue and regularly brief MSG countries of developments in West Papua.
Sir Michael, who was invited to attend the MSG celebration, said it sounded perfunctory but he was truly honoured because he noted from the invitation letter that he was regarded as a founding father of MSG.
“A great recognition, for which I am thankful,” Sir Michael said.
“While I, indeed, signed the agreement formally establishing the MSG, the honour of conceiving this organisation rests with the late Fr Walter Lini, Paias Wingti and Ezekiel Alebua.
“Both Wingti and Alebua, who are still with us today, would have been equally worthy guests.
“As we search to find areas of common interest to pursue our quest for more enhanced co-operation and deeper integration, we must ensure that our national resources and energies are not wasted.