Fiji women condemn Bainimarama government’s ‘silence’ on West Papua

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali and fellow activists at the Morning Star flag raising in solidarity with West Papua
Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali and fellow activists at the Morning Star flag raising in solidarity with West Papua in Suva this week. Image: APR screenshot FV

By Rusiate Baleilevuka in Suva

A Fiji women’s advocacy group has condemned their government for remaining silent over the human rights violations in West Papua amid the Pacific Islands Forum being hosted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainmarama this week.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) coordinator Shamima Ali with other staff members and activists made the criticisms at a ceremony raising the independence flag Morning Star, banned in Indonesia.

The women raised the flag of West Papua on Wednesday to show their solidarity.

West Papua's Morning Star flag-raising in Suva
West Papua’s Morning Star flag-raising in Suva this week. Image: Fijivillage

Ali said this ceremony was done every Wednesday to remember the people of West Papua, particularly women and girls who were “suffering twofold” due to the increased militarisation of the two provinces of Papua and West Papuan by the “cruel Indonesian government”.

She said this was a perfect time since all the Pacific leaders were in Fiji for the forum but the Fiji government stayed silent on the issue.

Ali added that with Fiji as the chair of the forum, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should have negotiated for West Papua to be on the agenda.

Wenda appeals to Pacific Islands Forum
Meanwhile, United Liberation Movement of West Papua interim president Benny Wenda has appealed to Pacific leaders to show “timely and effective leadership” on the great issues facing the Pacific — “the human rights crisis in West Papua and the existential threat of climate change”.

“West Papua is a green land in a blue ocean. Our blue Pacific has always united our peoples, rather than dividing them,” he said in a statement.

Shamima Ali speaking out on West Papua in Suva. Video: Fijivillage

“In this spirit of Pacific solidarity, we are grateful for the support our Pacific family showed for our struggle in 2019 by calling for Indonesia to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to visit West Papua.”

However, Indonesia continued to undermine the forum by refusing to allow a UN visit to take place.

“For decades, we have been crying that Indonesia is bombing our villages and killing our people, but we have been ignored,” Wenda said.

“Now, the world is taking notice of our struggle. The United Nations has shown that up to 100,000 West Papuan civilians have been internally displaced by Indonesian military operations in the past three years alone.

“They have fled into the bush, where they lack access to shelter, food, water, and proper medical facilities. This is a rapidly worsening human rights disaster, requiring immediate attention and intervention by the United Nations.

“Indonesia hears the increasing calls for a UN visit, but is employing delaying tactics to avoid exposing their crimes against my people to the world.”

Rusiate Baleilevuka is a Fijivillage reporter.

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