ULMWP Chairman appeals to Pacific Islands Forum for support

Wenda (right) exchanges views with Geobjects Global Operations Manager, Paul Montague.

YAREN/PORT VILA, 05 SEPTEMBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – “There are two topics in the West Papuan struggle; one — Pacific leaders facing natural disasters and two – we in West Papua are facing genocide in our country.

“In addition West Papua is also saving the planet because as the second largest rain forest after the Amazon, we simply say politically, West Papua is the lung of the world and by saving it; we are also saving the world. Who knows what is going to happen in one hundred years’ time because the islands are sinking. West Papua can become the home of the Pacific (people) during sea level rise. I always tell Pacific leaders that when you save West Papua, you save the Pacific. When Vanuatu presents the West Papua Case to PIF, it is our prayer that other Pacific leaders will also support Vanuatu to take West Papua to the UN Decolonisation Committee”.

That is the message of the Chairman of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, to the Pacific Islands Forum’s 49th Session at Nauru this week.

Member of Parliament for Ambrym Albert William says what Father Walter Lini said about West Papua is true that Vanuatu must continue to support freedom for West Papua.

“Now the issue of climate change has reached critical stage in West Papua and especially seeing what is happening in nearby Australia now. The signs are there. It is visible, you can feel it, you can see it. The Great Barrier Reef is facing a lot of stress from the negative excessive impact of development. It is a threat to all the reefs of the islands. When there is no reef, there is no fish and there is no food for humanity. The Australian Government has no other way but to step in to help farmers who are facing drought now”.

That is the view of MP William, a former Director of the Department of Environment of the Vanuatu Government.

He entered the Grand Hotel to join members of the ULMWP Executive as it finalised its stand ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum 49th Meeting in Nauru, where climate change is one of the prominent issues on the agenda.

Speaking for Geobjects, an organization that has developed a software to help Governments to better manage their environments while the Governments are allowing private companies and international conglomerates to exploit natural resources like what the American company is doing mining mineral resources in the second largest open cast mine in the world at Free Port Mine in West Papua, Geobjects Global Operations Manager Paul Montague of Australia says the advantage of the software is that it shows all the impacts of such giant or minimum developments and also predicts what is going to happen in the future.

Montagne says the software was developed to help Governments in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to better equip themselves in the way they allow their natural resources to be exploited.

Asked how a member country of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) can have access to the software, Montagne explains, “We would go into the countries that are interested in our product and sit down with them and try and establish a base line.

Asked if a PIF country has shown interest in the software, Montagne says countries further afield including Nigeria and Chana in Africa and the African Union have shown interests in the software.

While on the subject of Africa, he says the challenges facing Africa are similar to West Papua where foreign companies set up to reap the benefits from the countries’ natural resources while on the long run, leaving behind environmental damages difficult to correct.

Chairman of Liberation Movement of West Papua Benny Wenda says his country has become a regional issue and cannot go away from the PIF. “So far Vanuatu has been the only country to talk about the plight of West Papua but now we need more leaders from the Pacific to take up the West Papua issue. For example the PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil has already stated that West Papua has to be taken back to the UN and so the Pacific has to be duty bound to take the case to the UN”, Wenda says.

“We are not asking the Pacific to invade Indonesia, we are asking them to sit down and discuss the issue as to whether the UN or Indonesia is right or wrong. We have to revisit the West Papua Issue. As members of the UN, Pacific leaders have a moral obligation to bring this case to the UN.

The human rights issues in West Papua are getting worse and worse. Last month in August, 49 West Papuan students were arrested across West Papua; killings and rapes by Indonesian soldiers are happening. Even last month in Dunga, there were displacement of Melanesians and human atrocities but nobody was there to report on the issues while Indonesia is assuring Melanesians, Polynesian and Micronesians that they are the good guys promoting democracy in the islands. But you cannot bring development on top of suffering.

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