On behalf of the ULMWP, I welcome Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Jotham Napat’s comments on West Papua during his recent diplomatic visit to Indonesia.

In a joint press conference with Indonesian Deputy Prime Minister Ma’ruf Amin, Napat reinstated his commitment to the ‘Melanesian way’. Hearing these words, I was reminded of Vanuatu’s founding father Walter Lini, who said that ‘Vanuatu will not be entirely free until all Melanesia is free from colonial rule’, West Papua and Kanaky included.

The Melanesian way has been shown in full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) being extended to the FLNKS, despite them representing a Melanesian people rather than a Melanesian state. It has also been demonstrated in Papua New Guinea’s approach to Bougainville, where Prime Minister Marape showed true moral courage by offering a referendum and respecting their right to self-determination. Vanuatu have always shown the same courage in supporting West Papuan freedom. By referencing the Melanesian way in the joint press conference, Deputy Napat was conveying to Indonesia the message Moses gave to Phaoroah: ‘let my people go’.

As West Papuans we are also committed to Melanesian values. This is why we have turned to our Melanesian family in seeking full membership of the MSG. In their role as Chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Vanuatu has been steadfast in supporting ULMWP full membership. At this crucial hour, we need all Melanesian leaders to show the same commitment, and help bring West Papua home to its Melanesian family. Indonesia must respect Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations by allowing the fulfillment of this decades-long dream.

Resolving the West Papuan issue in the Melanesian way first requires admitting the ULMWP as a full member of the MSG. Only then can we represent ourselves as Melanesians, as Papuans, and as equals with Indonesia.

This is the first step along the path towards a peaceful solution.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government