A meeting of Pacific countries was recently held in Nadi, Fiji, where Fiji Prime Minister Stiveni Rabuka received United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) group leader Benny Wenda. In photos shared in several media, PM Rabuka was seen wearing a noken (traditional woven bag) adorned with a Morning Star flag image as he shook Wenda’s hand.
The Indonesian Government has responded strongly, in the form of a Diplomatic Note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Fiji government protesting the meeting between Fiji’s PM and Wenda.
In a previous meeting with PNG PM James Marape, the Fijian PM expressed that he respects Indonesia’s sovereignty and that he had no right to discuss the sovereignty of other countries and must think about the sovereignty of his own country. Similar views were also conveyed by PNG PM James Marape.
Regarding the Diplomatic Note from the Indonesian Government to the Fijian PM, Benny Wenda questioned why Indonesia protested Fiji’s support of ULMWP while supporting Palestine’s independence.
In response, Chairman of the Melanesian Youth Diplomacy Forum (MYDIF) Steve Mara stated that the support provided by Indonesia to Palestine is different from the support requested from Fiji by Wenda.
Indonesia’s support for Palestine is based on international norms and laws, and not for political purposes.
Benny Wenda needs to know that the status and territory of the Palestinian state has been recognised by the UN through various Security Council and the General Assembly resolutions.
What also needs to be understood is that Papua has already undergone self-determination directly supervised by the UN, while Palestine has yet to achieve self-determination.
“Therefore, the difference is very basic, and the form of support is also different,” Mara said in his written statement, Monday (06/03/2023).
He further explained that during the Fiji Government’s press conference, Deputy PM Manoa Kamikamica representing Fiji’s PM explained that the PM respected every meeting held in Fiji last week; and on the issue of West Papua, Fiji acknowledged respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty as one of Fiji’s neighbouring countries.
“I also emphasise that our current struggle is to develop Papua with a real work programme and provide support to local governments in Papua to empower young people in skill development, build cooperation in the economic field with Pacific region countries, our resource yields must be improved and then we look for markets in the Pacific region.”
“This is preferable to talking about unending political issues. Papua must rapidly move forward, we cannot continue to be lulled by all the promises and dreams that some people have,” said Steve.