The pro-independence United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) has welcomed Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Jotham Napat’s comments on West Papua during this week’s diplomatic visit to Indonesia.
In a joint press conference with Indonesian Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin, Napat restated his commitment to the “Melanesian way”.
Movement president Benny Wenda has issued a statement saying that hearing those words, “I was reminded of Vanuatu’s founding Father Walter Lini, who said that ‘Vanuatu will not be entirely free until all Melanesia is free from colonial rule’ — West Papua and Kanaky included.”
The Melanesian way had been shown in full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) being extended to the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), despite them representing a Melanesian people rather than a Melanesian state [New Caledonia], Wenda said.
It has also been demonstrated in Papua New Guinea’s approach to Bougainville, where Prime Minister Marape showed true moral courage by respecting their right to self-determination with a 98 percent vote in favour of independence in 2019.
“Vanuatu has always shown the same courage in supporting West Papuan freedom. By referencing the Melanesian way in the joint press conference, Deputy Napat was conveying to Indonesia the message Moses gave to Phaoroah: ‘let my people go’,” Wenda said.
“As West Papuans we are also committed to Melanesian values. This is why we have turned to our Melanesian family in seeking full membership of the MSG.
Asia Pacific Report