West Papua protest at Forum leaders meeting

“We don’t want lip service, we want action,” says Samoan Barrister and Solicitor, Unasa Iuni Sapolu.

Sapolu joined a vocal group of supporters of the Free West Papua Movement in a peaceful protest this morning outside Sheraton Aggie Greys Hotel in Apia, which is the venue of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit.

“We have to stand up because if we don’t, no one will. Let us talk about the freedom for the indigenous people of West Papua, of all Pacific islands, Unasa told journalists.

“Economic justice is never fair to the indigenous people of the Pacific if they don’t have political justice, if they don’t have freedom and control of who they are, their identity. Our concern is if we have gold in Samoa as in West Papua or in any other parts of the Pacific, they would be going through the same genocidal treatment that our brothers and sisters in West Papua are going through,” she added.

The protest was organised by Samoa First Union.

As delegates arrived at the hotel, protestors chanted “Freedom for West Papua,” ‘Samoa Mo Samoa’ in reference to the chant of the Mau which was a non-violent movement for Samoan independence during the first half of the 1900’s.

They also held placards and waved West Papua’s Morning Star flags.

The Secretary General of United Liberation Movement of West Papua, Octovianus Mote met and thanked the protestors for their support.

Mote said they would like to see stronger language in the communique regarding the West Papua cause.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor visited the protestors.

‘I’m here to acknowledge the voice of the people of Samoa as I will be meeting with officials from other countries,” she said.

The Australian West Papua Association has written an open letter to PIF leaders.

The organisation urges leaders to continue to raise concern about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government.

AWPA also wants the leaders to continue to press Jakarta to allow a PIF fact-finding mission to the territory.

“The Indonesian President has said that West Papua is now open and the authorities are saying that the human rights situation is improving. If this is the case why not allow a PIF fact-finding mission to the territory?

“Because of the ongoing arrests of peaceful demonstrators in West Papua, AWPA asks the Forum leaders to urge Jakarta to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to visit West Papua to investigate the situation on the ground in the territory,” the letter stated.

ULMWP Secretary General, Mote said seven Pacific leaders have indicated that they would raise the West Papua issue at their retreat on Friday.