West Papuans are set to seize a historical meeting next week to advance their claim to self-determination from Indonesia. A West Papuan delegation will participate for the first time ever in a summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an intergovernmental organization made up of the sovereign states of Papua-New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji, and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLKNS, French acronym) of New Caledonia (an overseas collectivity of France).
Vanuatuan newspaper Daily Post writes that the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WMNCL) has formally asked the MSG to consider full membership for the West Papuan organization.
Melanesian support is critical for West Papuan pro-independence organizations, who are trying to internationalize their self-determination claim. West Papuans consider they need some sovereign states to support them in the international arena, especially in the United Nations.
And on the ground in West Papua, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB, Indonesian acronym) is planning to organize a day of demonstrations on June 18th in order to mark West Papuan presence in the MSG summit. According to Radio New Zealand International, the KNPB plans to hold marches in Manokwari, Sorong, Yahukimo, Wamena and other towns. The marches will ask for the self-determination of West Papua.
West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, although both were separate Dutch colonies. West Papuan nationalists argue that, being a different colony, the territory was entitled to its own process of decolonization. Following this line of reasoning, Indonesian annexation was illegal and thus a referendum on self-determination opening the door to full independence should be organized.
Pro-independence demonstrations are usually crushed by Indonesian security forces. Waving the West Papuan flag is illegal in Indonesia.