By Ricky Binihi - Vanuatu Daily Post
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2004
Vanuatu chiefs at the recent Melanesian Trust conference held in Tanna have unanimously agreed with other Melanesian representatives that Independence is a God-given right to the people of West Papua.
In a 16-point resolution on West Papua and Kanaky the Melanesia Trust meeting endorsed the support for independence of West Papua and Kanaky.
And they called for the re-inscription of West Papua with the United Nations’ decolonisation committee.
Country reports from the two Melanesian countries that are still struggling for Independence were presented during the conference.
The Conference was attended by Melanesian representatives from Papua New Guinea, West Papua, Kanaky, Solomons, Fiji and Vanuatu chiefs.
After hearing the reports from West Papua and Kanaky the conference called for unity among the independence movements in West Papua.
They also called on the unity of the Kanaks within the FLNKS with particular emphasis from the Vanuatu chiefs about the importance of being united in order to achieve their goal.
The conference also applauded the steps taken by Vanuatu to take up the West Papua case in UN and called on all Melanesian leaders to support the initiative of the Vanuatu government.
In his address to the United Nations this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Barak Sope said the people of West Papua are dying today for freedom as result of a UN sanctioned Act of Free Choice in 1969.
The 8th Melanesian Trust conference called on Melanesian leaders to support the initiative taken by the Vanuatu government that the UN reviews the conduct of Free Choice of 1969.
Very senior delegates representing West Papua at the Conference said that in 1969 only 1025 participated in the referendum. Many who voted were even threatened with their lives if they did not vote “yes” to Indonesia colonising West Papua.
The conference endorsed a proposal by the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs, Malvatumauri, that a Conference of Melanesian Chiefs be held to discuss the struggle of their Melanesian brothers and sisters.
Delegates to the Tanna conference unanimously resolved to use only the name of Kanaky instead of New Caledonia.
On the issue of independence for Kanaks, it was resolved that the indigenous people, are the only colonised people in Kanaky, therefore they are the only ones who should have the right to vote in a referendum to decide Independence.
Included among the resolutions is a call on Vanuatu to pass a bill in Parliament on West Papua and a request to the Melanesian Spearhead Group to put West Papua on the agenda of the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea next year.
Important dignitaries who attended the meeting included the President of the Malvatumauri, Chief Paul Tahi, Luganville Lord Mayor Paul Hakwa, Internationa Spokesman of West Papua Dr John Ondawame, Tanna MP Bob Loughman, and the Pacific Concerns Resource Center’s Rex Rumakiek.
The member of the FLNKS movement who together with the late Father Lini were successful in enlisting New Caledonia in the UN Decolonisation Committee, Mr Pierre Qaeze also attended the conference.