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Tuvalu

Tuvalu speaks out on West Papua

Tuvalu is concerned about human rights violations in West Papua, however the Pacific nation also recognises Indonesia’s sovereignty over the country.

In the last few weeks, seven young people were jailed for raising the Morning Star flag and bodies of four Papuans were discovered in sacks floating in a river. Six Indonesian soldiers were arrested for the alleged offence.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe upheld the stance taken by all Pacific Islands Forum members in 2019 and such was highlighted in the communique.

“Leaders reaffirmed recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua (Papua). Leaders acknowledged the reported escalation in violence and continued allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua (Papua) and agreed to re-emphasise and reinforce the Forum’s position of raising its concerns over the violence,” he said.

“Leaders called on all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents and to work to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means. Further, Leaders agreed to maintain open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the issue of alleged human rights abuses and violations in West Papua.

“Leaders reaffirmed recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua (Papua). Leaders acknowledged the reported escalation in violence and continued allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua (Papua) and agreed to re-emphasise and reinforce the Forum’s position of raising its concerns over the violence,” Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe. Picture Ministry of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu Government.

“Leaders welcomed the invitation by Indonesia for a mission to West Papua (Papua) by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and strongly encouraged both sides to finalise the timing of the visit and for an evidence-based, informed report on the situation be provided before the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in 2020.”

However, the expedition to West Papua is yet to take place as the pandemic had put a stop to international travel and it has been impossible to fly into West Papua until recently from Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea.

Interestingly there were no mentions of West Papua in the recently held Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Suva. The communique shows that no conversation took place about the current situation of the Pacific nation governed by Indonesia.

West Papuans who identify as the indigenous people of the nation have called themselves Pacific people.

Exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda recently opened offices in Vanuatu and said they were grateful that Vanuatu recognised their cause for independence.

The Morning Star flag at an Australian Mall. Picture: Australian West Papua Association

The Dutch colony was to gain independence in the 1950s however, geopolitical tensions arising from the Cold War negotiated an Indonesian handover to which no referendum was ever taken from the people who settled there thousands of years ago.

The Morning Star flag was made by West Papuans when they were initially told by the Dutch Government that West Papua would gain independence.

The takeover was something West Papuans have protested against and continue to do so just by raising the Morning Star.

Current laws permit the raising of the Morning Star but to do so, the Indonesian flag must be raised first and the Morning Star to fly lower than the flags of its colonial rulers.

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