Leaders of the movement are conscious of the Vanuatu government’s moves to broaden commercial links and armed services cooperation with Indonesia.
They have also expressed their disappointment at the treatment meted out to West Papuan leaders who were recently refused visas at Bauerfield Airport in spite of their having letters in their possession from the Vanuatu Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that their visas would be issued on arrival.
The meeting discussed that the people of Vanuatu are well aware of the plight of the West Papuans. But they are not so aware of the apparently changing position of the Port Vila government towards West Papuan liberation.
Vanuatu has continuously supported a move for West Papuan observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). This was never achieved because it was blocked by the Somare government in PNG. Observer status for West Papua was still the position of Vanuatu last year. However, Prime Minister Kilman has signed a cooperation agreement with Indonesia.
Cooperation is seen by West Papua Freedom Association members as a threat to the security of Melanesia.
Meanwhile, Jakarta insists West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia and therefore Papuan independence cannot be discussed as a colonial issue.
Whilst Indonesia will discuss the Papuan provinces in regional forums, it seems this is mostly related to Djakarta’s regional expansion rather than any humanitarian consideration for the West Papuans. In Papua New Guinea in recent times training camps for Muslim extremists have been allowed to become established.
Vanuatu has been supportive of West Papuan independence since the country’s own Independence, and the case of the people of West Papua was always supported in international meetings by the late Fr Walter Lini. It is for that reason that the West Papua Freedom Association intends to hold its peaceful demonstration on Fr Walter Lini Day.
The Vanuatu Free West Papua Association was formed in 2000 to ensure Vanuatu governments would remain aware of the feelings of ni-Vanuatu as regards West Papuan independence.
The fact that the Vanuatu Government is moving towards diplomatic relations with Indonesia suggests it has lost touch with the feelings of the community, a meeting on Friday was told by MP Ralph Regenvanu.
The West Papuan international spokesman Dr John Ondowame also addressed the meeting.
One of the points raised at the meeting was that the Council of Ministers has never agreed that Vanuatu should enter into diplomatic relations with Indonesia and the decision to do so seems to be that of only one or two ministers.
The peaceful demonstration planned for Lini Day is expected to make the people’s position clear to the present government.
There will be free expression for every point of view and a call on candidates to the forthcoming elections to make their positions, and those of their parties, absolutely clear to everyone.