Papua New Guinea’s prime minister says his government is concerned about what is happening in West Papua and has expressed this directly to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.
Peter O’Neill made the comment on FM100’s radio talk back show while responding to questions from the public about West Papua.
The prime minister has previously spoken of the need for PNG to speak out about ongoing human rights abuses in his country’s neighbouring territory.
On talkback yesterday, Mr O’Neill indicated West Papuans were welcome in PNG.
“We are equally concerned about what is happening in West Papua,” he said.
“We have expressed that directly to the highest authority including the President this year particularly the human rights issue and for autonomy.”
The prime minister said that as chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, PNG had written to President Widodo, requesting to send a fact-finding team of Pacific Island leaders to West Papua to talk directly with the people themselves.
“The response we received from Indonesia is they welcome such a dialogue and appreciative of our desire for West Papua have some more autonomy, whether that will be self-determination or not is something that can be worked on towards,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments follow criticism by the chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Manasseh Sogavare, that Indonesia has failed to respond to requests for engagement over Papua by both the Pacific Forum and the MSG.
After their special summit scheduled for Port Vila earlier this month was postponed, MSG leaders were now expected to meet in Port Moresby in coming days.
Port Moresby meeting
The MSG leaders meeting is expected to coincide with a summit of the African Carribean and Pacific Group that PNG is hosting.
“So I am aware we will have an MSG side meeting at the weekend,” Mr O’Neill is reported in the Post Courier as saying, “and some of the issues will be brought up during the ACP summit which is coming up next week.”
Vanuatu’s Daily Post newspaper reports that the country’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and his Foreign Minister Bruno Leingkone will be attending.
Mr Salwai has clearly stated his government’s support for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua’s bid for full membership in the MSG.
Indonesia is also seeking full membership, although Mr Salwai is also proposing that Indonesia’s current associate membership in the group be cancelled.