The Women’s Office of the Federal Republic of West Papua is hosting a Candle Light Vigil in City Square, Melbourne, on Friday 5 June 2015 (5.30-7.30pm). The ceremony is one of a suite of efforts by communities around the world to encourage the prime ministers of Papua New Guinea and Fiji to accept West Papua’s application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The MSG is an intergovernment body comprised of PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Kanaky (New Caledonia) independence movement. West Papua’s application was prepared by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and lodged with the MSG Secretariat by the Vanuatu Government on 4 February 2015.
The ULMWP was elected to prepare the application by West Papuan leaders during the Reconciliation and Unity Summit for West Papuan Leaders in Port Vila in December 2014. The Summit was inspired by the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (South Korea, 2013), supported by Gereja Kristen Injili (the most influential church in West Papua), sponsored by the Vanuatu Government, and moderated by the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu Christian Council, and Pacific Conference of Churches.
Rather than embrace West Papua’s application, PNG Prime Minister O’Neill and Fiji Prime Minister Bainimarama have pledged their nations’ support for an Indonesian-government application whereby a delegation of five Indonesian-state governors would become an Associate Member of the MSG.
O’Neill said his arrangement with Indonesian president Widodo was designed ‘to ensure peace, stability, and development for Melanesian people in Papua and West Papua’. Within days of the announcement, Indonesian police arrested seventy West Papuans participating in a peace rally in Manokwari, their use of tear gas forcing a school of kindergarden kids into hospital with breathing problems.