Powes Parkop – is PNG’s Champion for West Papua Going Soft?

Powes Pakop - Changing the Face of Port MoresbyAfter Powes Parkop was elected Governor of the National Capital District (NCD) in the PNG elections in July 2007, he made the following statement to the press:

“I have a moral obligation to speak out about West Papua. I will speak on the issue of West Papua so that it is raised as a serious issue in Papua New Guinea and in the region so it can be addressed, because this is a real issue. It’s been pushed under the carpet for too long.”

For a new elected politician entering PNG’s 8’th National Parliament, it was quite a radical perspective to carry into the Haus Tambaran. Over the years not a single PNG Government has supported West Papua’s push for independence due to a number of reasons which I will not discuss in this post. What I do find very interesting is Powes Parkop’s support for the movement.

What prompted me to write this post was a brilliant legal argument I stumbled upon written by Parkop when he was Chairman of Melanesian Solidarity (I’m not too sure if he still is?). Melanesian Solidarity or simply MelSol is a PNG-based interest group that campaigns against neo-colonialism across Melanesia, including West Papua.

That legal paper is titles Reinscription of West Papua as a Colonised State and People and presents the case for West Papua as a State and as a people entitled to exercise the right to self-determination under International Law by presenting valid historical, ethno-cultural, geographical and political arguments – all of which make sense.

In 2000, as an MelSol activist, Parkop criticised then PNG Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta and his government for once again sweeping the West Papua issue “under the carpet”. Parkop went on to say:

“The government may continuously try to bury the West Papuan issue but everyone knows that it will not go away. West Papuans have unanimously called for independence and nothing will stop them. The long term solution is to facilitate the will of the people instead of turning a blind eye. Long term security of the region will be better guaranteed if the West Papua issue is put on the negotiating table and addressed to the satisfaction of the West Papuan people.”

On the international pro-West Papua front, the current NCD Governor is actually listed as being an active current member of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) which was inaugrally launched on December 1st, 2008 in London. Members of that group also include notable MP’s from the UK and Vanuatu. Mysteriously, Parkop was expected to attend the launching – but never did.

When launching the 2007 Let’s Do It PNG Media Expo, Powes Pakop challenged the PNG media to more actively address the issue of West Papua:

“I do not even know of or have heard of an organised media visit to West Papua through the Indonesia Embassy. It seems that as far as the media was concerned, West Papua was a ‘a taboo’ [subject]. It’s a domestic affair similar to how we treat domestic violence. We only highlight the facts with screaming headlines in newspapers or TV after the wife has been killed and the husband charged with murder or manslaughter.”

More recently, it is interesting to note that Powes Parkop has been responsible for using force to displace West Papuan refugees from their settlements in NCD five times within nine months. West Papuans in NCD have moved from Eight Mile to Ela Beach, then to the back of Boroko Police Station, then to residential homes near Apex Park, then to Apex Park Sports Oval, where they were eventually evicted again to Rainbow Estate at Gerehu.

So, the question must be asked, is Powes Parkop going soft on his stance regarding independence for West Papua?

~ by Tavurvur on April 16, 2009.

17 Responses to “Powes Parkop – is PNG’s Champion for West Papua Going Soft?”

  1. Somebody posted a link to this story on PNGScape – I followed it here. Awesome Blog by the way!

    First time I’ve heard about this Blog – top stuff though. Keep it up bro/sis!

  2. good blog

  3. yeh…good blog..no wonder png journalist don’t report on this area…such as same – towards our neighbouring brothers

  4. Thanks for the comments MSJ and Hauslain.

    Appreciated.

    Tavurvur

  5. 1. The so called West Papuan refugees being relocated are not genuine refugees. They have been living in PNG for between 20 to 30 years and they manufactured their current situation in the hope of getting a third country to grant them asylum. PNG Govt has agreed to release them to a 3rd country if a country agrees to take them in. Those who stayed back at the original site of the West Papuan Camp at 9 mile are still residing there so these people were not genuine refugees or people needing assistance. They have also diverted attention from genuine struggle so I have little sympathy for them.

    2. In relation to the International lawyers for West Papua Conference, I could not attenmd because my mother in law died two days before the holidng of the Conference. If I did not attend the funeral ceremony, I would be in great strife with my wife and partner.

    3. Since my election, I have attended and visited all foreign missions in PNG except for the Indonesia Embassay. When the Governor of West Papua Bas Sueba visit last year to attend the Border Conference between the two countries, I boycotted the conference, I did not do the formal welcoming and hosting of the Parties because of my political views. I did meet with Mr Suebu later but at his insistence at in discrete.

    4. I intend to raise issue of West Papua soon in grievience debate. I have advsied the Speaker of the House and he will allocate me time when I am ready. I am working on the statement now.

    5. One of the reasons I have not been too vocal recently is that I not not have a good West Papua network that I can work with here in PNG. I used to work with West Papua Congree but since Mr Micahel Kareth with into exile in Holland, I do not have a partner which I can dialogue with and do advocacy with. I will not shoot my mouth off without there being a viable West Papua network that I can trust that is consistently pushing the agenda outside of Parliament. I will look like a fool if the support network does not exist. I am in the process of building and strengthening such network.

    I will provide a proper statement later.

    Powes

  6. Powes – Sir,

    Firstly, thank you for your response. I find it extremely encouraging to note that you took the time to defend yourself and your position on my Blog. A lot of my questions have been answered, so thank you.

    In relation to your first point, despite those West Papuan nationals not being “genuine refugees”, there is still the issue of what do we do with them. What is your plan as NCD Governor? Are we going to sit back and wait till a 3’rd country officially accepts them (highly unprobable) or are we going to wait another 30yrs until they have been substantially assimilated into our own society (highly possible)?

    I don’t think the situation has an easy answer – none the less, something has to be done about it. If they’re not “genuine refugees” as you say, then what are they – illegal aliens?

    Secondly, I am looking forward to you raising the issue of West Papua in Parliament. It will be an interesting debate which will force certain sitting MPs into publicly standing on the issue – something that will test your colleagues’ mettle.

    I think one issue my article does raise is the “information gap” between the people of PNG and our elected representatives. If this article was about any other of our other 108 MPs, I highly doubt that they would respond. The ability of our people to access our MPs is an issue that needs to be seriously addressed.

    So thank you for your response.

    Please note that you do have one supporter here.

    Tavurvur

  7. What’s the latest Mr. Parkop?

  8. I asked a West Papuan friend of over ten year his opinion on the West Papuan refuges saga in the city who were seeking a third country to migrate to. His response was that these were people who were oppotunists. This informant was one of those student activist at the West Papua Cendrawasi University in the early 1970 who fled when the army moved in to crush their activities.

    On the same token, why don’t we PNGans take similar interest in West Papua as our Melanesian brothers from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands? I wonder if there would ever be a day of reckoning for PNG to take a lead in standing up for West Papua. The time was in 2005 when during the Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit in Goroka. West Papuan Activists who tried to present a petition were denied the right to do so and were made to set camp 1.5 kilometre from the meeting venue at the University of Goroka and were kept under strong police surveilance. Also at the meeting Otto Ondowame a prominent West Papua activist who had come with the Vanuatu delegation was asked by the host, PNG Govt. to leave the meeting venue.

    Just yesterday we read in the newspaper that Solomon Islands aided two members of the Fijian military regime to attend the PIF in Cairns. That’s a real Melanesian – brave act from a small country.

  9. Asples,

    You make a good point – why don’t we (PNG) take a similar interest in West Papua as Solomon Islands and Vanuatu do? It’s a question that I’ve asked myself before and I have reached a conclusion on the issue.

    If you look at our history and pinpoint those moments when the PNG Government indicated that it will not support the West Papua issue, it is interesting to note who was the person in charge. It seems that our leaders since Independence have a risk-aversion attitude to West Papua – almost as if they’re scared or are not willing to push Indonesia.

    A few years ago it was Somare who ruthlessly blocked Vanuatu and Solomon Islands’ request to include West Papua in the MSG. No reason was given – but yet again it is another example of the “old” leaders saying no. The above post looks at one of the “younger” leaders of PNG willing to make a stance on the West Papua issue – and I do think that will be the way forward.

    Parkop is right, the West Papua issue is one of the biggest issues to our security in the region, and it will not simply go away. Somare may say no, but that doesn’t solve the issue. It will still remain an issue long after Somare has passed. I think that the West Papua issue will be addressed eventually, and it will largely be addressed due to the “younger” leaders of PNG.

    It will be interesting to see who else in the Government and the Opposition supports an independent West Papua – it may be that there will be MPs from each side that share this common interest.

    Tavurvur

  10. G’day,
    I have been searching for Mr. Powes Parkop’s private email address and or contacts some time now. Can you Mr. Powes Parkop send me an email with your private email address: paikea@live.nl, Grace Roembiak, the Netherlands. I have met you in Brussels – ECSIEP I think it was 1996.
    This topic is of interest to me.

  11. Hi,recently a good number of refugees were flown back to indonesia. Mr. Parkop do you have any plans for those residing a rainbow village.? Can we or is there any plans to relocate them to a better place. They are not animals living along the drain. ol man tu yah!

  12. Dear Hon Parkop,

    On Saturday, 19th of June 2010, the Vanuatu Parliament has unanimously passed a motion on West Papua in an extraordinary session. The motion was presented by the Hon. Edward Nipake Natapei, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, and seconded by the Leader of Opposition, Hon Maxime Carlot Korman. The purpose of the motion is to allow the Government of Vanuatu to seek the legality of the incorporation of West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia through the 1969 so-called Act of Free Choice, by the international Court of Justice. The motion has requested for the Government to register the issue as an agenda item at the next UNGA meeting this year.

    I hereby advise you, that the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), as an umbrella organization representing number of organizations with its Secretariat based in Port Vila, Vanuatu is ready to work hand in hand with you to achieve the same thing in PNG. WPNCL Mission in PNG is represented by Mr. Clemens Runawery, and Mr. John Tekwie, whom I believe you know them very well.

    In Solidarity,
    Andy Ayamiseba
    WPNCL Vanuatu Mission
    ayamiseba@yahoo.com.au

  13. Over to you Powes…

    Tavurvur

  14. People sometimes say I will do it, but when it comes to real thing, nothing happen. Did Powes Parkop really talk the issue of West Papua in Parliament?

  15. Not a reply or comment. Just warm regards from me, Tom Ireeuw, Mount Hagen, PNG. Surving and reading through the net I came across your email address. So I am trying to send my greeting to you, my old friend. All the best!

  16. Greetings from the Solomons, ol wantok!

    It’s really pleasing to note the sustained discussion on the West Papua issue. It is high time the Melanesian bloc do take this agenda to a new level to bring the plight of our W/Papuan brethren to the attention of the world. Having said that, it is really sad noting PNG’s stance on the issue for the past 30+ years. It is equally sad to note the rather SILENT (albeit passive) support from Solomon Islands and Fiji. Vanuatu’s clear official stance is highly commendable and bespeaks of a real Melanesian brother.

    If our Melanesian governments have over the years failed our W/Papuan brothers, what do we the ordinary citizens do to champion this Melanesian cause? You may have better ideas, but I guess it’s time to mobilise a proactive trans-Melanesian network by having for e.g. advocacy groups in all Melanesian countries. Advocating for foreign policy changes on the W/Papua issue should thus be the primary goal in each such country. Frankly, my very own country Solomon Islands is yet to have a clear foreign policy on W/Papua despite the ad hoce support often rendered ‘outside official lines’ at times. This is a situation that needs to be changed for a strong and unified future Melanesia.

    *********************

    Andy,

    I hope my name still looks familiar to you. I was part of the legal team (Trans-Melanesian Lawyers) that fought your deportation case in Vanuatu before the Supreme Court & Court of Appeal.

    Please check your email

  17. Hi all,

    Here is another article that you should read regarding Melanesia and West Papua: http://tiny.cc/ilcp8

    Regards,
    Tavurvur

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