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WEST PAPUA: Indonesian warning may force activists to stay in exile

The Indonesian military prevented Melanesian Spearhead Group delegates from meeting any West Papuan activists on their recent mission. Image: KNPB

Monday, March 17, 2014

Item: 8514

PORT VILA (Radio New Zealand International / Vanuatu Post): Two leaders of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation have been warned that they face assassination by the Indonesian military, say media reports.

As a result, the WPNCL's Vanuatu head of mission Andy Ayamiseba, and its vice chairman, Dr John Otto Ondawame, may have to remain in exile in Port Vila, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Vanuatu Post  journalist Len Garae wrote yesterday that his newspaper had received an invitation from two West Papuans (Franz Albert Joku and Nicholas Simion Messet) who work for Indonesia, inviting Ayamiseba and Dr Ondawame home on the grounds that " times are changing in West Papua for the better".

Barak Sope, who is the Vanuatu special adviser to the coalition, reportedly told Ayamiseba and Ondawame not to heed calls to return home and lead their people.

Sope reminded the public that when he was prime minister of Vanuatu, he invited West Papuan Chief Thys Elouy to Vanuatu for its 20th independence anniversary. But just after Elouy arrived back in West Papua, he was killed by the Indonesian police.

Papuan birthright
Ayamiseba has said he will only go back to West Papua once the Indonesian military occupation is over, according to Radio New Zealand International.

He was quoted by the Vanuatu Post as saying: “Who does not long to return to his beloved country? But there is a very strong reason why we cannot. The reason has to do with our birthright, our political status and our security. We are after our indigenous identity. We are born Papuan and we will die Papuan. We are not Indonesian. And our birthright has been raped by colonialists supported by the United Nations".

Ayamiseba raised the troubling issue of a total lack of media freedom in West Papua, asking why, if the situation had improved, were journalists still banned from West Papua.

He also pointed out that in January this year, member states of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) went on a fact-finding mission to West Papua, but were prevented from meeting any West Papuan activists. Instead, most of the West Papuan activists were arrested before the mission started and detained in prison for its duration.

Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses Kalosil has been a strong advocate for freedom in West Papua, telling the United Nations recently that it was neglecting the indigenous people of West Papua, 10 percent of whom are claimed to have been slaughtered by Indonesian military invaders over the past 50 years.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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