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Vanuatu Prime Minister reminds MGS Leaders of Grouping’s stand for free Melanesia


By Jonas Cullwick
Prime Minister Moana Carcasses kept his Government’s promise to the people of Vanuatu to make a strong stand for self-determination for the people of West Papua and the Kanaks of New Caledonia at this year’s Leaders’ Summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The Vanuatu PM and his delegation must be congratulated by the people of the country for the bold effort taken in the face of the MSG leadership that was seemingly divided on this position by issues including trade and geographical interests.

In a statement at the plenary session of the MSG Leaders’ Summit in Noumea, New Caledonia last week, Prime Minister Carcasses reminded the session of the words of co-founding father of the MSG, Vanuatu’s very own Fr. Walter Lini, the first Prime Minister of country, who said “Vanuatu will not be fully free until all Melanesian are free.”

Last week’s MSG Summit had noted the application by the West Papua Coalition for National Liberation (WPCNL) seeking membership of the MSG. And Carcasses, in his statement, acknowledged the outgoing Chair, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama “for his great understanding in allowing the issue of West Papua to finally earn its rightful place” in the agenda of the MSG Summit.

He also expressed his gratitude to the host of the Summit, the FLNKS of New Caledonia for inviting the West Papua Coalition of National Liberation to the Summit, calling it “a huge landmark achievement”, and he appealed to the sub-regional grouping to “maintain the momentum in a mature and respectful manner.”

“Mr. Chairman, we are aware of the concerns of West Papuans, who long for a day when they as Melanesians, could achieve self-determination. But also Dear Colleague Leaders and Friends, we are aware of the human rights violations and atrocities being committed against West Papuans as a people in their motherland,” Carcasses said.

He called for an end to the abuse of human rights and urged that any continuation of abuse of human rights should be immediately brought to the attention of the international community.

“I raise these serious concerns on this issue with great humility for a very important reason. And this is that we have strong respective political and economic relations with Indonesia and this relation at a bilateral level for us in Vanuatu is indeed an important one,” Carcasses said.

He explained how each of the MSG member countries treasured their relationship with Indonesia and wished to see this strengthen into maturity, and how as a result of this collective respect for Indonesia as a friend, Indonesia was accepted as an observer in the MSG.

“I believe that as a friend in Melanesia, important issues could be discussed without diluting our collective determination to see the West Papuans granted their right for self-determination someday,” he referred to the relations with Indonesia.

Then the Vanuatu Prime Minister stressed the one important premise on which the application for membership by West Papua was done, and this is that “they are undeniably Melanesians” in blood and physic just like all members of the Melanesian sub-region.

“So, as Melanesians we cannot pretend to turn a blind eye on this natural identity and imagine that this avoidance is perfectly acceptable. So, as Melanesians we, our people and our land must not be occupied or colonized.

“We cannot have wool pulled over our faces and pretend that we are fine when those who are free know that the spirit within us desperately longs for freedom. The fire and desire for freedom and the enjoyment of the fruits of freedom has proven time and again throughout history that people’s voices, aspirations and dreams generate a society that is stable, healthy, educated and wealthy,” Carcasses continued.

He said that the cries of the people of West Papua for freedom have been bluntly denied by many rich and wealthy countries, including the United Nations for many decades, in spite of many rich discussions on good governance.

“So, I say that we as brothers must stand for them. That is to say that the epicenter of support for the advocacy for West Papuan Self-Determination must begin in this region, the Melanesia. And from here it could spread to other foreign lands.

“The world must know our unwavering support for the colonized people just like we did for the Kanaky people and the French Polynesia who are now finally listed in the Decolonization list,” he said.

Carcasses reminded the Summit of the preamble of the constitution of the MSG, which he said is very clear on the determination of the Group to promote the values, traditions and the inalienable rights of all Melanesians. And that the Constitution is a guiding principle to which the Group’s decisions and actions must mirror.

He went on to highlight the reason why he spoke on this issue. He said he echoed the voices of the people of the Republic of Vanuatu who fought for their freedom because it was their right to be free and they earned it 32 years ago. And he thanked God for this gift of freedom.

The Vanuatu Prime Minister appealed to the people of Melanesia to support the people of New Caledonia in the upcoming referendum. And he pledged the support of the Vanuatu people to the New Caledonia people for the upcoming referendum.

“Mr. Chairman, we the raison d’etre of this noble organization was because of the strong determination by our leaders for the colonized peoples of this country to walk free from colonialism someday.

“Nevertheless, 25 years after that promise, we are still here with the FLNKS to show solidarity and to renew our commitment and assurances that their objective for independence will be achieved one day.”

He then appealed to the people of New Caledonia to unite so that one day they can sit around the MSG table no longer as a political party group but as a Sovereign nation of the Kanaky people.

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