Once international political activist and former Prime Minister Barak Sope, with

his “Order of Timor Leste’, is confident West Papua will win its Independence

By Len Garae

Definitely West Papua will gain its independence like East Timor did because like East Timorese, West Papuans know that Vanuatu and other countries are standing with them.

That is the opinion of Vanuatu’s once active political activist for West Papua and former Prime Minister, Barak Sope.

As an activist also for East Timor during its colonial days, he says mere words cannot express how he felt when now at 67 years old, he and his wife Mildred Sope were invited to Dili to receive the ‘Order of Timor Leste” – the highest award to be offered by the Head of State to those that deserve it.

Both he and his wife declined an invitation to visit the mass graves of those killed by Indonesian soldiers over 24 years of colonial rule. “We could not stop the tears from falling, while we stood at the entrance and showed our respects,” he says.

Speaking on his return home after receiving the award in Dili last week, he says in the latest development the 79 member countries of Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) in Brussels have almost unanimously pushed for self-determination for West Papua.

Apart from Sudan in Africa, and Papua New Guinea and Fiji in the Pacific both of them members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which did not support the ACP Resolution to go before the UN General Assembly in New York, Sope describes their decisions against supporting the trend as bilateral.

“It is going to isolate them from the international community because no other countries support their stand on West Papua even at MSG level.

“Both countries have lost focus,” Sope says.

Today there must be referendum in West Papua to find out how many people want freedom after over 50 years of atrocities involving about 500,000 deaths.

Ninety-nine percent of East Timorese voted for independence because Indonesian armed forces killed over 200,000 of their people. “To me this is one reason why Indonesia has no support at the UN and now internationally, West Papua is building up its momentum,” he says.

There will be political effect mainly because of human rights abuse in West Papua. Sope says Papua New Guinea and Fiji are a minority on the future of West Papua.

“MSG won’t follow their stand and African countries are angry that two members of MSG are not supportive of an international call for self-determination for West Papua”, he says.

“Definitely whatever Indonesia is doing won’t kill the spirit of West Papuans to win their freedom.

“Colonial exploitation has no justice inside.”

Sope is satisfied that Vanuatu’s position on decolonisation, despite internal political differences, has remained intact in the last going 37 years, and he believes West Papua, New Caledonia, Tahiti and Wallis and Futuna will win their freedom.

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