The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) continues to pledge its commitment to advocate for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) to become a full member the of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Last week, the PCC and other civil society partners hosted the leader of the ULMWP, Benny Wenda, at a prayer vigil in Suva where the Morning Star flag — banned by Indonesia — was raised, ahead of the 8th MSG Ministers of Arts and Culture Meeting (MACM) in Vanuatu this week.
PCC general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan said the people of the Pacific had recognised the ULMWP as the political representative of the people of West Papua.
“PCC have been flying the Morning Star flag even though it was in tatters to remind us that while our family/vuvale in Papua are oppressed, displaced, repressed and face constant attacks on their dignity and human rights, they remain hopeful for their right to be self-determining,” Revered Bhagwan said.
“You do not go alone to that MSG meeting,” he said.
“You go with God and with us in your heart, knowing that while you await formal recognition of ULMWP as a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, your Pacific churches and civil society, the people of the Pacific have recognised the ULMWP as the political representative of the people of Tanah Papua”.
Papua election ‘hotspots’
Meanwhile, the Papua police say 12 out of 29 regencies and cities in Papua are at “risk of conflict” during the next year’s elections in February 2024.
According to Jubi, this is the forecast of a vulnerability index for the general election.
Papua police Chief Inspector-General Mathius Fakhiri expressed concerns about the noken system, also known as the tie system.
General Fakhiri said the system often led to conflicts because political actors could manipulate the remaining votes.
This system was commonly used in Central Papua and Mountainous Papua provinces, and the general proposed reducing its use in the next election.
He also suggested better control of the permanent voters’ list, and implementing the “one person, one vote” principle for the election.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.