Scoop Talks To Two West Papuan Freedom
.. and goes
Inside The Campaign To Get West Papua Back On The Pacific Island Forum's Agenda
Audio and Images From Scoop Co-Editor Alastair Thompson on Assignment in Papua New Guinea and the Solomons
Click for big version
Anthony Fofoe and John Kawowo Outside The Sir John Guise Indoor Sports Center in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Anthony Fofoe and John Kawowo were part of a delegation from West Papua at the pre-Pacific Forum civil society gathering in Port Moresby.
In the streaming audio interview linked below (apologies for the sound quality, the two men are both very softly spoken) the two men talk about their efforts to get West Papua's independent movement recognised formally by the Pacific Forum.
They explain firstly that there are precedents for doing so in other Pacific struggles for independence. They then go on to make a compelling case that as the Pacific Plan focuses on efforts to enhance security of Pacific nations, the deteriorating security situation in West Papua is clearly a relevant consideration for Pacific leaders to engage with.
following this interview, on Monday evening, Pacific Forum
Secretary General Greg Urwin arrived at the civil society
venue to be presented with the formal communiqué from the
civil society forum which included a call
- Urge that the UN revisit the 1962 New York agreement on West Papua and the 1969 UN-endorsed Act of Free Choice;
- Grant West Papua official observer status at forum meetings;
- [and] Lobby to have West Papua (as well as Rapa Nui and Hawai'i) reinscribed on the UN Decolonisation list.
Click for big version
Then as Mr Urwin was about to leave Anthony Fofoe presented him with a bilum containing copies of a detailed paper and petition on the subject of West Papua. Mr Fofoe asked Mr Urwin to provide the copies of the submission to the Pacific Forum leadership during their retreat in Madang tomorrow.
Later when NZ PM Helen Clark turned up at the civil society gathering for a surprise visit she was also presented with a copy of the submission by Mr Fofoe.
The following morning n a press conference with New Zealand media Helen Clark and Mr Urwin indicated that West Papua would indeed be discussed at the Madang summit.
And asked if the issue of West Papua's
independence struggle would also be raised in the post-forum
dialogue with regional powers including Indonesia and the
United States Mr Urwin said he would not be at all surprised
if it was in fact raised by the Indonesians
(See... Audio: NZ PM & PIF SG Talk Forum Issues)
However at a press
conference later in the day NZ PM Helen Clark & Australia's
John Howard Mr Howard said West Papua had not come up in
the cross ditch bilateral discussion. Moreover, Mr Howard
said, neither had it come up in the bilateral between the
two nations closest to West Papua geographically speaking,
Papua New Guinea itself and Australia. "…I can tell you, it
may disappoint you, but West Papua was not raised by the PNG
Prime Minister," he said.
(See… Audio: Clark & Howard Don't Talk West Papua )
This Thursday when the leaders return to Port Moresby to close this years Pacific Island Forum a protest is to be held by the West Papuan freedom movement on Ella Beach, immediately adjacent to the conference venue.
Organisers of the protest told Scoop they are expecting a few thousand people to attend and for their to be a large number of West Papuan flags flying. Flying the West Papuan Flag in West Papua is an offence punishable with an extended period in prison and in many recorded instances summary execution.