BY LEONARD FONG ROKA
MELANESIA, OR ‘THE DARK ISLANDS’, is a region covering the big island of New Guinea and the smaller Solomons chain, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.
It is the region considered to be the ancient gateway for human colonisation of the Pacific. Today the grip on this ancient cultural and political tranquillity is being lost by our brothers in West Papua.
With the arrival of Europeans, the long historical state of calm was shattered by the rapacious and belittling drawing up of lines of division across traditional nations.
After the dawn of decolonisation, West Papua found itself in Indonesia; Bougainville in Papua New Guinea; and New Caledonia struggling for self-determination from French rule.
The trio - West Papua, New Caledonia and Bougainville - have had significant influence on the political fabric of the countries that governed them. They have also had a history of resistance, in one way or the other, to those governors.
West Papuans, who are Melanesian, have been ignored by most other Melanesian leaders out of fear of negative repercussions from Indonesia.
Government after government in Papua New Guinea (as distinct from ordinary PNGeans) have not stood up for their fellow Melanesians. So far only Vanuatu and some little groups or individuals in the Solomon Islands and Fiji have spoken out.
Melanesian states, excluding the current regime in Fiji but especially Papua New Guinea, are good at worshipping powers that are militarily or politically powerful.
They have not been able to change the systems that they were given by the colonial powers, not because of the lack of natural capabilities but because of deliberate negligence out of fear of adverse external pressures if they create political and economic systems that are more realistic for Melanesia.
What the Melanesian states and people need to know is that, ‘liberal democracy’ today is not ‘people power’ but is a tyranny controlled by the western banking system through the military industrial complex to control the remaining natural resources in the world.
In West Papua, Melanesians must realise that they are at war with an imperialistic Asian parasite which is merciless in its torture, rapacity and gluttonous methods which are used to rob our fellow Melanesians of their land and wealth. PNG is already a collateral victim with all the Batas trading near Wutung that deny development to the town of Vanimo.
The island of New Guinea is said to be a bridge between Asia and Oceania. In this I see a hopeless situation for the future of Melanesia. If West Papua is to be controlled forever, then the spillover effect will eventually come to PNG, then into my Bougainville and the rest of the Solomon Islands and beyond.
Hearing of the West Papuans’ struggle, the first thing that bothers me is the fact that Asia houses more than 60% of the global human population and is currently the host of some of the world’s most rapidly rising economies that need natural resources to keep them running.
In this regard, our fellow Melanesians across the PNG border have long, under Indonesian rule, been subject to and are undergoing genocide which the UN Convention on the Prevention in Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Article 2) defines as, ‘…acts committed with ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a natural, ethnical, racial or religious group’.
Indonesia could argue that there is no intent to eradicate Melanesians in West Papua, but one could ask back: ‘Are you a member of the United Nations?’ If ‘yes’, then Indonesia knows exactly the contents and goals of the United Nation’s Minority Rights and Indigenous Rights provisions and also that all these rights for ages now have being denied to our West Papuan brothers and sisters.
Their wealth is being exploited for the betterment of Asians, their land robbed through the transmigration effort and their gestures for freedom answered in the barrel of the gun.
The plight of Melanesians in West Papua today is being worsened by western hegemony. As suppressed peoples worldwide turn to terrorism against Eurocentric takeovers, the West, led by the US, label many, whom I see as genuine freedom fighters, terrorists.
In recent years Indonesia has taken advantage of its alliance with the US to flush out Melanesians in the name of the global war against terrorism.
Furthermore, Melanesians in West Papua have being neglected by their own relatives in the name of national security. Melanesians states, especially PNG, worries about national security at the international level and ignore domestic security.
The influx of West Papuan refugees is a problem that can weaken PNG from the inside whilst the government concentrates on external affairs.
I believe that for PNG the only solution is to help West Papuans move to self-determination, which is their right under the UN’s Indigenous Rights provisions.
According to Wikipedia, the UN’s Indigenous Rights provisions ‘are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples.
This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural heritage that are a part of their existence as a people.
This can be used as an expression for advocacy of social organisations or form a part of the national law in establishing the relation between a government and the right of self-determination among the indigenous people living within its borders, or in international law as a protection against violation by actions of governments or groups of private interests.’
Collectively, as Melanesians, we contribute to deny the Melanesians of West Papua their rights.
So the element of ‘intent’ in the UN’s definition of genocide is clarified. Starting with the Western hegemonic actors to Indonesia, to Melanesian countries that do not help voice and support the West Papuans in their ignorance and fear of Indonesia, our intent is to eradicate the Melanesians in West Papua from the surface of the Earth and Asianise the island of New Guinea.
The United Nations gives us a mechanism to get up and stand up for our rights (as the late Bob Marley put it) as Melanesians; what we need is a collective effort without any fear.
Let us save West Papua for Melanesians; independence for West Papua, is survival from the Asianisation of Melanesia for a unique people on the surface of the Earth.