The ULMWP meeting in Jayapura

We are at a historic moment for the West Papuan people. At the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) leaders’ summit, we firmly believe that the Melanesian nations will decide to accept the ULMWP as a full member of the Group. On behalf of the ULMWP, I call on all West Papuans, whether in exile, behind bars, in the bush, or in the refugee camps, to support our application and pray for its success.

At a meeting on Sunday in Jayapura, the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative wings of the ULMWP together launched our campaign for MSG full membership. I welcome their endorsement: with all three branches of the ULMWP speaking, our whole movement stands united in support of this goal. As ULMWP Prime Minister Edison Waromi stated during the meeting, our agenda is now totally focused on consolidating support for full membership.

We have made extraordinary progress over the past decade, but full membership of the MSG would be our movement’s greatest diplomatic victory yet. For the first time, West Papuans would be able to fully represent ourselves in an international forum. As full members, we will be able to sit around the table with Indonesia and discuss the political status of West Papua on an equal footing. Indonesia should have no cause for concern about our application, as it is these mechanisms that will allow us to reach a peaceful solution to the West Papuan issue.

Since the ULMWP’s formation in 2014, West Papuans have been praying for the successful realisation of this goal. As observer members of the MSG, we have proved ourselves as a state-in-waiting, as well as responsible and active group members. But observer membership does not allow us to engage with Indonesia as equals: we can only speak quietly, with half our voice. Achieving full membership will mean we can speak with a full voice.

For the past sixty years, we have often felt voiceless and alone as we have struggled against racism, ethnic cleansing, and colonial genocide. All West Papuans know that we are not safe with Indonesia. But for our liberation struggle to advance, we first need the backing of our Melanesian brothers and sisters. Melanesian solidarity is in the MSG’s DNA: since its creation in 1988, the MSG has been committed to “the entire decolonization and freedom of the Melanesian countries and territories.” And as one of the greatest Melanesian leaders, Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister Walter Lini, said, Melanesia is not free until West Papua is free.

I hope that at the upcoming summit Melanesian leaders remember this proud tradition, and act in this spirit of Melanesian solidarity. ULMWP full membership is the right decision for Melanesia, the Pacific, and for regional stability and peace. After sixty years in the wilderness, it is time to bring West Papua home to its Melanesian family.

I therefore call on all West Papuans, of all ages, genders, all tribes and political affiliations, whether you are Melanesian or an Indonesian migrant: unite behind this goal. We also need our international solidarity groups, our Pacific religious and civil society organisations, including the West Papuan Council of Churches, to support our application. Full membership is the pathway to peace and self-determination. With one voice, we must all shout: West Papua for MSG!

Benny Wenda

West Papua Council Chairman Buchtar Tabuni

ULMWP Prime Minister Edison Waromi

Chair of ULMWP Judicial Council Diaz Gwijangge