West Papua - Opposition Leader and Vanimo Green MP Belden Namah takes on PM James Marape on PNG foreign policy on West Papua

Question Without Notice session this morning was for the first since independence in 1975 debated the West Papua issue with PM James Marape pressed to take a stand for Melanesian people ln West Papua putting their case for self - rule from Indonesia. 

The Opposition Leader prefaced his series of questions with historical background covering the East Timor Crisis and diplomatic options pursued by MSG and PIF resolutions on the West Papua independence struggle.

He asked what PNG foreign policy was on West Papua.

And, PM James Marape responded with a summary of the more pertinent points. His opening remark was straight to the point, about the imaginary line that cut the island of New Guinea into half due to the colonial context of the options pursued for the tribal people. 

He said the divided destiny of tribal and timeless people that occupied both sides in the colonial era still frustrates all PNG governments and the 7 prime ministers and the elected parliaments since independence that came into office on how to call for human rights including self determination for the people of occupied West Papua. He referred to Indonesian claim to sovereignty over the the former Dutch colony which was a difficult conversation.  

On PNG's foreign policy on West Papua the PM said since the escalation of mass mobilisation by pro - independent groups demanding intervention by UN to validate human rights violations including right to self determination, and calls for the UN to investigate atrocities committed by Indonesian authorities and its military, the government has closely sought consultation with Indonesia through its embassy in Port Moresby on difficult topics including implications of PIF resolutions on West Papua.

The PIF resolution in 2014 for a fact - finding mission to West Papua is still on Jakarta's desk, and largely ignored by Indonesian officials handling its restive Papua Province.  

He said at this stage information on new developments since the riots began in August, 2019, demanding UN intervention in the West Papua Crisis escalated to unprecedented levels since the 1960s is being assessed to allow more engagement by the government at the policy level.

Meanwhile, he said security beef - up may be necessary along the 700 kilometre border from Wutung to Kiunga once assessment is completed by PNG border security and liaison officials.

The PM alluded to possible exodus of refugees in the thousands like happened in 1984 when a total of about 30,000 indigenous Papuans fled across the border to escape persecution by Indonesian authorities and its military.

And, he said the government is keeping a close check on the escalation of mass mobilisation by pro - independence groups, and the international advocacy that is generated for the West Papua issue both in PNG and the region.

[Photo: PNG media coverage - West Papua unrest, and implications for national security; Belden Namah - Opposition Leader & MP for Vanimo Green]

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