Vanuatu’s Foreign affairs minister, Ralph Regenvanu has dismissed accusations from the Indonesian Government for including a West Papuan leader and the United Liberal Movement for the people of West Papua (ULMWP) chairman, Benny Wenda in its delegation to a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
“Indonesia strongly condemns Vanuatu’s action, which deliberately deceived the High Commissioner by taking manipulative steps through the infiltration of Benny Wenda into the Vanuatu delegation,” Hasan Kleib, Indonesian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said in a press statement published on Wednesday.
In a telephone interview with Buzz 96FM, Minister Regenvanu said the Government of Vanuatu has always maintained its stand and support behind the self-determination for the West Papua movement.
“Vanuatu recently reaffirmed its commitment and celebrated the establishment of the ULMWP movement by hosting a meeting here some years ago, as well as giving land for the ULMWP office,” said Regenvanu.
The Foreign Affairs Minister re-emphasised Vanuatu government’s position status remains, it will assist the people of West Papua in their struggle to decolonise.
Minister Regenvanu said one of the ways Vanuatu is assisting is to include representatives of the ULMWP to be part of the Vanuatu delegation at UN meetings, especially one where Vanuatu had a meeting with the UN Human Rights Commissioner.
“It is an opportunity for the ULMWP to raise the issue of West Papua with the UN, because essentially it is unfinished business for the UN and there are very few avenues that West Papuan people can use to bring their fight to attention or continue to bring their fight into the attention of the International Community so Vanuatu will continue to assist them in doing this,” said Minister Regenvanu.
“Vanuatu doesn’t regard the West Papua movement or ULMWP as different or as a separatist movement, which is what the Indonesians has labelled and considered it as a case of territory, which is never properly decolonised by the UN,” said Regenvanu.
The Vanuatu foreign affairs minister confirmed that ULMWP chairman, Benny Wenda was officially accredited in the Vanuatu delegation to the UN meeting.
“An attempt to present the petition in 2017 to the UN committee responsible for monitoring the progress of colonised territories toward independence was rebuffed.
“Last week they succeeded, aided by the diplomatic equivalent of a wink and a nod from the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, which has been championing the Papuan cause.
“Vanuatu officials had a scheduled meeting last Friday in Geneva with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Among them was an exiled Papuan leader, Benny Wenda, who presented a petition with 1.8 million signatures calling for self-determinationto Bachelet.
“During this meeting, one member of the Vanuatu delegation, presented the high commissioner with a petition. This was not actually a meeting arranged with Wenda for that purpose,” said Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokeswoman at the UN Human Rights Office.
The deputy spokeswoman said Bachelet “was not aware” in advance.
The ULMWP sent The Associated Press a photo of Wenda passing the petition to a smiling Bachelet.
It was then that Indonesia reacted angrily, accusing Vanuatu of “taking manipulative steps through the infiltration of Benny Wenda into the Vanuatu delegation.”. SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS