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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Push for West Papua rights recognition successful

Solomon Islands push for human rights to be included in Pacific relationships with Indonesia successful at Pacific Islands Forum. Image: Island Sun

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Item: 9996

By Ben Bilua
HONIARA (Island Sun/Pacific Media Watch): The Solomon Islands has successfully moved a new agenda to include human rights on any agreement Pacific Island Countries signed with Indonesia during the recent Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Milner Tozaka, moved the agenda and was supported by Vanuatu and Tonga during the recent Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Samoa.

Previously, the bilateral agreement between Indonesia and Pacific Island countries only recognised trade relations, but now human rights will be included in any relationship countries in the Pacific have with Indonesia.

In the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting communique, leaders recognised the constructive engagement by the Forum countries with Indonesia with respect to elections and human rights in West Papua and Papua and to continue a dialogue in an open and constructive manner.

In an interview with Island Sun after the Leader Retreat at Taumeasina Island Resort in Apia, Samoa, Tozaka said the Solomon Islands is happy that the West Papuan issue has been included in the communique.

He said the Solomon Islands position on West Papua is still a top priority and will continue to seek further dialogue to present West Papua on top level discussion.

Tozaka said the Solomon Islands is pleased to have the support of Tonga and Vanuatu, among others, in pushing the West Papua issue to the floor for further discussion during the meeting.

More support needed
While acknowledging that the West Papua issue is in the communique, he said the issue is still a long way to achieve and that there needs to be more support.

Tozaka explained that there are a growing number of Free-West Papua movements in many countries in the Pacific region, but the road to the United Nations for presentation of ideas for West Papua depends on respective countries.

He said the present Pacific island countries who supported West Papua have no chance to go as a group to the UN.

“We try to push for a collective effort for this West Papua issue, but what we get was that, individual countries can hold dialogue with UN,” Tozaka said.

He said the West Papua issue is gaining momentum given that leaders have put their vote to the West Papua issue in the communique.

Ben Bilua is a reporter with the Island Sun.

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