Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania say West Papuans should be a part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group
Catholic bishops from the Pacific region have voiced their support for the West Papuan people's desire to participate in the inter-governmental Melanesian Spearhead Group.
"[The West Papuans] seek what every family and culture seeks: respect of personal and communal dignity, free expression of one's aspirations and good neighborly relations," said the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania in a statement.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is made up of Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia.
Indonesia was recognized as an associate member of the MSG last year but West Papua's independence movement has not been allowed to join the group. They have been granted observer status.
"Political boundaries can never contain or control ethnic relationships and so we urge governments to support the West Papuan people's desire to participate fully in the Melanesian Spearhead Group," said the bishops.
"Blocked participation in MSG is a wound in the side of all Melanesians. For West Papuans, the MSG is a natural place of collaboration and a potential source of deeper regional understanding," they said.
Dignity for West Papuans was a focus issue for the executive committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands at meeting in Port Moresby this week meeting.