Questioning Vanuatu and Solomon Islands Maneuvers in Papua Issue

Erlangga Pratama, a researcher at Center of Risk Strategic Intelligence Assessment (Cersia), Jakarta / Alumnus graduate of KSI University of Indonesia (UI)

Delegates of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in the momentum of the UN Human Rights Council Meeting Session 34 in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, March 3, 2017, again made a provocative maneuver. Vanuatu's Minister of Justice and Community Development's statement, Ronald Warsal, on the issue of human rights abuses in Papua and a request for a special UN mission to investigate, is clearly erroneous, unsupported by empirical knowledge, current data and facts on progress in Papua. Therefore, this accusation is more like political propaganda to discredit Indonesia than the real solidarity as a Melanesian nation, and can be interpreted as political support for separatism promoted by a handful of Papuan independent activists.

This hostile action was not the first, in the 25th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2014, Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses accused the Indonesian military of being responsible for human rights abuses in Papua and requested the United Nations to send delegates to investigate the allegations. Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are also actively maneuvering the issue of human rights abuses in Papua as a means to garner support from other small countries such as Nauru, Palau, Marshal Islands, Tuvalu and Tongapada to the 71st General Assembly in 2016. only that, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands also utilize the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) forum to support separatism in Papua.

The political provisions of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands show immaturity in international diplomacy and can be interpreted as an aggression of Indonesian sovereignty that is recognized and protected by applicable international law. The action tainted the close relationship between Indonesia and MSG member countries as agreed in January 2014 to support each other's sovereignty , unity and territorial integrity, and comply with the UN Charter not to interfere with each other's internal affairs (non interference). Thus, it is understandable that MSG member countries such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea refuse to intervene in the Papuan issue, and differ with Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

Double Standard irony

There is not much strategic potential that can be expected from a country with a population of tens to hundreds of thousands only. However, the interests of solidarity as a Melanesian family and developing foreign policy in the region must be another consideration in building partnerships with Pacific island countries. Keep in mind, Indonesia is the largest country with 11 million Melanesian population, that number exceeds the total of the entire population of Melanesia in the Pacific Islands.

The commitment to the Pacific Islands region has been demonstrated by the Indonesian government through foreign aid of $ 2 million for the recovery of Vanuatu following the hurricane of 2015.Indonesia also welcomed Vanuatu Foreign Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanusaatthe 60th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference 2015, that his government intends to open the Embassy Large in Jakarta.Sedangkan with Solomon Islands, economic and trade cooperation increased averaged about 17.28% / year over the last five years, with total trade volume reached US $ 15.88 million in 2012, a surplus of about US $ 9.1 million for Indonesia. Indonesia also supports the establishment of the Solomon Islands Embassy office in Jakarta in 2014.

Seeing this increasing diplomatic and cooperation relationship is of course contradictory to the attitude of the country in the Pacific island region, especially Vanuatu and Solomon Islands that often discredit Indonesia with the issue of human rights violations. Both countries are deliberately manipulating the solidarity of the Melanesian clan to support Papuan activists, and interfere with Indonesia's domestic affairs. The attitude is a double standard in their foreign policy and contradicts statements made frequently in bilateral meetings with Indonesia.

George Milner Tozaka, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations, 2016 declared his country's commitment to respect the territorial integrity of NKRI and adhere to the UN Charter on non interference policy. Similarly, Vanuatu has also signed the Development Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with Indonesia in 2011 as a framework for a more stable partnership based on the principle of mutual benefit and respect. Both Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands should be aware that unfounded accusations of human rights violations will backfire and uncover the irony of conditions domestic both countries are backward.

Vanuatu needs to focus on his domestic chaotic and full of political conflict. Over the span of five years there have been nine changes of power from Prime Minister Edward Natapei (2008) to Moana Carcasses (2013) due to a dispute between the government and the opposition. The situation has dragged the Papuan issue as a political commodity to attract the support of the Papuan community in Vanuatu. The domestic interest of a handful of Vanuatu politicians has placed Papua as a strategic issue, including the reasons behind Vanuatu's support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) organization. Vanuatu has a complex domestic problem and demands government responsibility, poverty, corruption, discrimination and human rights violations.

The double standard is also demonstrated by the Solomon Islands, the active PM Manasseh Sograve supporting ULMWP being a full member of MSG. In fact, the delegation of the Solomon Islands in the UN Human Rights Council Meeting The 32nd Session of June 2016 has issued a statement contrary to the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in the affairs of each country by supporting the International Parliament for West Papua (IPWP), and proposing a UN investigation on the issue of human rights violations in Papua.

The Solomon Islands government forgot the facts of human rights violations in the communal conflict between the people of Guadalcanal and Malaita due to development inequality.

Human rights issues are also revealed in the recommendation revealed by UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo (2012), so that the government will take on the role of overcoming massive human rights violations against women and children, gender imbalances and discrimination against access to justice. The UN Special Rapporteur also found the astounding facts of violence against 64% of women in the 15-49 years age range, both sexual and physical violence, and the absence of adequate regulation to ensure access to the protection of human rights, especially for women and children in a country of 600,000 inhabitants this.

Diplomatic Pressure Required

In its right of reply, African countries judge Vanuatu to politicize human rights, interfere in the domestic affairs and territorial integrity of Indonesia as a member of the United Nations. Venezuela, head of the Non-Aligned Movement, declared that every country has sovereignty to address its domestic problems, including Indonesia. The international community has assessed the progress made by Indonesia, both in the development and protection of human rights in Papua. The international community, especially Europe will not sympathize with the provocations of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Europe will choose to focus on tackling the economic turmoil and have the potential for separatism that naturally does not want to be harassed by other countries, such as Catalonia in Spain, Basques in France and Spain, Flandeers in Belgium, Padana, Venice, North Tyrol in Italy, Northern Ireland in England.

The Indonesian delegation's stern response to the Vanuatu and Solomon Islands maneuvers should be appreciated and should be supported by all elements in Indonesia.It is an integrated step to counter the politicization of Papuan issues at home and abroad. The government needs to look at the reaction of separatist supporters who will use the momentum to rally an opinion as if it has received international support. For example, the Trial of Jubi whose Editor, Victor Mambror, covered the UN Human Rights Council hearing in Geneva, Switzerland, was distorted with opinions as if there was agreement in the international community about the UN special mission in Papua and the World Council's (WCC) support of the investigation on the issue of human rights abuses, the facts of the international community's strong reaction to the politicization of human rights issues by Vanuatu have not been disclosed.

Indonesia needs to evaluate diplomatic relations and cooperation with Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as well as other Pacific island states that show hostility and interfere in Indonesia's domestic affairs. The government through the Kemenlu RI needs to ask for explanations from diplomatic representatives of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for provocation in the Human Rights Council Session at UN The options such as the calling of Indonesian diplomatic representatives in both countries, the decline of status to the freezing of diplomatic relations, as well as the application of the status of persona non grata to diplomats from both countries should be considered further. The Indonesian government should not hesitate in facing any country that threatens national sovereignty, especially from troubled countries like Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The People of Indonesia will fully support the government's move to maintain the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Indonesia recognized and protected by applicable international law.



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