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).
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
The 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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).