Children, men, women, chiefs and Non-Government Organizations (NGO) in Port Vila represented Vanuatu in advocating for West Papua’s freedom and rights under the humanitarian rights policy as they assembled at Fatumauri Bay yesterday afternoon to join Vanuatu's Civil Society Organisation, Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO), and the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association to march in protest against the human rights abuses in West Papua.
Held from Fatumauri Bay to the national Parliament, the solidarity march is a protest against the violence and recent killings of West Papuans amidst pro-independence protests.
VANGO officials and West Papuan representatives presented a petition to Prime Minister Charlot Salwai at the Parliament.
VANGO Chairman, Lai Sakita said the march is in conjunction with the recent violence and human rights abuse in West Papua where Indonesian military attacked and killed some West Papuans during the protest.
Mr Sakita said the civil society in Vanuatu believes a march should take place to reaffirm the Vanuatu government’s stand in regards to the West Papuan issue and also its stand in the global arena in supporting West Papua as a Melanesian country.
He said the petition contains a call for Indonesia to be removed from the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as an associate member and leave West Papua as a MSG member.
After receiving the petition in front of the Parliament house, PM Salwai confirmed the Vanuatu government and Vanuatu as whole remains committed to West Papua’s freedom.
The head of the Vanuatu government said Vanuatu will always support and fight hard for West Papua’s freedom.
Mr Salwai said the UN Human Rights Commissioner is aware of the West Papua issue and calls for a team to visit the West Papuan region is a step forward in addressing the humanitarian crisis of the Melanesian neighbours.
He said the government welcomes the petition. He also reiterated late Fr. Walter Lini’s statement that Vanuatu is not free unless all Melanesia and Pacific are free.
VANGO Chairman Sakita was grateful that the government accepted to receive the petition yesterday.