Procession of the Gifts, West Papua in Vanuatu, 1 Dec 2014

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PROCESSION OF THE THE GIFTS: WEST PAPUA IN VANUATU, 1 DECEMBER 2014

A Procession of Gifts within a Solidarity March opened the Vanuatu Government’s ground-breaking ‘Reconciliation and Unity Summit for West Papuan Leaders’ in December 2014. The Summit moderated by the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu Christian Council, and Pacific Conference of Churches; and concluded with the formation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), a representative coordinating body tasked with underwriting West Papua’s application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (an intergovernment organization of the four Melanesian states—Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu—and the Kanaky of New Caledonia). The ULMWP—and its five executives—is legally accountable to West Papua’s three key independence organisations: Federal Republic of West Papua (Octo Mote, Jacob Rumbiak), West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (Leonie Tanggahma, Rex Rumakiek), West Papua National Parliament (Benny Wenda). On 4 February 2015, the Vanuatu Government lodged West Papua’s application to join the MSG.

Below is a series of photographs by Tommy Latupeirissa FKM/RMS of the extraordinary solidarity procession from Fatumaru Bay to Saralana Park on 1 December 2014 that opened the Summit (Slides 9-54). The procession was preceded by a powerful peace ritual for the West Papuans conducted by two Maraki Vanuariki chiefs, Morris Kaloran and Peace-Chief Masato (Slides 1-8).

PEACE RITUAL, Fatamaru Bay, 1 December 2014

The Vanuatu Peace Ritual bound the first formal alliance between the Papuan (highland) and Melanesian (coastal) tribes in spiritually sacred words and symbols, and the highlander Benny Wenda as leader of the new ‘United Liberation Movement for West Papua’.



SOLIDARITY PROCESSION, from Fatamaru Bay to Saralana Park, 1 December 2014
3The solidarity procession and gift-exchange were organised by the Maraki Vanuariki Council of Chiefs (Tongoa-Shepherd Islanders from Shefa Province), a constituent of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs. The West Papuans led the procession: Teri Yaram, Jacob Rumbiak, Benny Wenda, Elizier Awom, Leonie Tanggahma, Rosa Moiwon, Frans Kapisa, Amatus Dowe, Franciscus Oeweng, Jack Wanggai, Markus Yenu, Sabi Sambon (missing: Victor Yeimo, Octo Mote).

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5 Chief Morris Kaloran and the gifts of pig, kava, taro, cassava, cabbage, banana, sugar cane.

6 Chief Kaloran rousing the gift carriers into rhythmic chant for the long hot 2.5km march.

8 The Brass Band of the Vanuatu Mobile Force.

9 FRWP Governor Markus Yenu (behind tuba) and Pastor Alan Nafuki (Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council of Churches, one of the sponsors of the Summit).

12 Vanuatu Prime Minister Natuman (green sneakers) with Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe (President, Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs). The Vanuatu state maintains close and respectful relations with the nation’s tribal and traditional-Christian infrastructure and personnel.

13 Francois Pihaatae, Secretary of Pacific Conference of Churches (bare feet, black tee-shirt).

15 Money donated to the Federal Republic of West Papua (by a single mother from South Korea with money she’d saved for her children’s education) bought a pig for the Maraki Vanuariki Council, which, in turn, inspired the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs to buy two pigs.

17 George (father of Jacob Rumbiak jnr) leads a rousing chant as the heavy load of pig and vegetables is transported from Fatumaru Bay to Saralana Park in the sweltering heat.

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21 West Papuans leading the march: Jacob Rumbiak (blue shirt) and Benny Wenda (carrying the sacred club), Alfonse Adadikam (FRWP Melbourne office), Elizier Awom (FRWP Minister for Defence in West Papua), Leonie Tanggahma (National Coalition in The Netherlands).

22 Banners included Uniting West Papua; Our Melanesian Brothers; Black is beautiful; We bleed black & red; Decolonize all Melanesian countries; Vanuatu supports Self-Determination through God’s Power; Bullets—Indonesia’s birth control; Say No To Genocide.

14 Tongoa-Shepherd national politician Chief Abel David (right, red baseball cap).

23 There were plenty of PNG flags (even though PNG, influenced by Indonesia, doesn’t support West Papua’s independence). Mary from Orchids Holiday Home in Port Vila (orange shirt).

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26 Long-standing Australian supporters: Dave Arkins and Rosemary McKay (Australia West Papua Assoc-Adelaide); Joe Collins and Anne Noonan (Australia West Papua Association-Sydney).

28 The Vanuatu Prime Minister’s Personal Guard.

29 West Papuan Octovanius Mote flew from the USA for the summit (white cap, taking photos).

30 Port Vila City: Prime Minister Natuman, Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe (President, Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs), Ralph Regenvanu MP, Brass Band (now playing Christmas Carols).

30 Main St, Port Vila city: Francois Pihaatae (Sec-General Pacific Conference of Churches), Prime Minister Joe Natuman, Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe (President, Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs), Ralph Regenvanu MP, and Governor Markus Yenu (Federal Republic of West Papua).

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34 Mirror image: passing a mural in the main street of Port Vila.

Benny Wenda riding the pig past Parliament House Passing Parliament House: at some point Benny Wenda was hoisted onto the pig.

36 Procession of The Gifts arriving in Saralana Park (also called Independence Park).

37 Saralana Park: Maraki Vanuariki Council gifts for the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs.

38 Member of the Vanuatu Mobile Force raising the Vanuatu flag in Saralana Park.

40 Silas, a veteran Vanuatu independence fighter, decides to raise West Papua’s Morning Star flag himself.

42 A newspaper drone captures the moment that Silas usurps the job of the Vanuatu Defense Force to raise West Papua’s Morning Star flag. Maraki Vanuariki MP Abel David observes the tension.

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45 Nervously preparing for the sacrifice. Elizier Awom, Jacob Rumbiak, Benny Wenda, Chief Morris Kaloran, Teri Yaram, Alfonse Adadikam, Barak Sope (Prime Minister of Vanuatu 1999-2001).

47 Chief Kaloran instructing Benny Wenda on the language and technical skills of the ritual slaughter with the sacred club that was especially brought out of Fel’s Cave for the ceremony.

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Ritual Slaughtering of the pig

52 Chief Kaloran offering to appoint a professional from Tonga Island to kill the pig.

54 Prime Minister Natuman, Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe from Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs.

57 Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe, Pastor Alan Nafuki, Elizier Awom (Federal Republic of West Papua), Benny Wenda, Teri Yaram (West Papua National Parliament), Francis Uweng (Australia) ….

58 …. also Teri Yaram, Sabi Sambon (WP National Parliament); Amateus Dowe (WP National Coalition for Liberation); Jacob Rumbiak, Frans Kapisa (Federal Republic of West Papua).

61 The ni-Vanuatu’s faith and energy overwhelms the long-isolated freedom fighters: Jack Wainggai, Teri Yaram, Markus Yenu, Jacob Rumbiak, Elizier Awom, Sabi Sambon.

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64 First formal alliance between the Papuan highland tribes and the Melanesian coastal tribes (Benny Wenda and Jacob Rumbiak), an extraordinary step in Papuan nation-making.

60 The Prime Minister’s Personal Guard marks the site that Vanuatu declared ‘West Papua’s Independence Day’ in Saralana Park on 1 December 2014.

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