MSG Turns Down Papua Separatist Group's Request for Full Membership

Papuan students during a protest rally in Yogyakarta in July. Pacific countries expressed their concern during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently over continuing human rights violations in Papua. (Antara Photo/Hendra Nurdiyansyah)

By : Alin Almanar & Donny Andhika Mononimbar | on 8:15 PM July 15, 2016
Category : News, Featured, Foreign Affairs

Jakarta. The Melanesian Spearhead Group has rejected an application for full membership status by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which Indonesia deems a separatist group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The decision, made during an MSG special summit in Honiara in the Solomon Islands on Thursday (14/07), means the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) retains its observer status as an organization.

"There is no place for the ULMWP in the future of the MSG," Desra, director general for Asia Pacific and Africa at the Indonesian foreign ministry, said in a statement on Thursday (14/07). "The active participation and intensive lobbying by the Indonesian delegation, which also included representatives from five provinces, Maluku, North Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and West Papua, has convinced MSG leaders not to accept the ULMWP's membership application."

The five Indonesian provinces are considered as Indonesia's Melanesian representatives in the MSG.

The ULMWP was granted observer status last year, following the collection of more than 150,000 signatures from West Papuans requesting full membership status in the intergovernmental organization, composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia.

Indonesia, which became an associate member of the MSG at last year's summit in Honiara and who is currently mulling full membership status, maintains that the ULMWP does not represent the people of West Papua.

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu recently stated their support for full membership status for the ULMWP, while Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia remained undecided.

"There was no refusal. This is only a delay," ULMWP leader Markus Haluk said in response to Thursday's decision.

"The reason for the postponement is the definition for new membership has yet to be properly arranged to ensure the acceptance of the ULMWP application," Markus told the Jakarta Globe on Friday. "Our application is delayed until the next special summit."

The summit, scheduled to take place in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in September, is expected to further discuss and settle the guidelines for MSG membership.

Protests

The MSG's decision not to upgrade the ULMWP's status has sparked a rally in some parts of Indonesia, such as in Yogyakarta.

Dozens of Papuan student held a rally at their dormitory despite not having a permit from the local police. The students are also trying to establish a ULMWP representative office in the city, which was rejected by security officials.

The rally ended with a clash between the Papuan students and police, resulting in Jalan Kusumanegara being closed to traffic for several hours. The situation was brought under control after four hours, when the road was reopened.

Papuan students in Makassar, South Sulawesi, also held a rally on Friday demanding that the MSG grants permanent membership to the ULMWP as a member state.

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