Radio New Zealand journalist Johnny Blades created a memorable image last week when he posted a montage of six heads of government from some of the smallest states of the world, each standing at the podium at the United Nations General Assembly.
The leaders of these six countries—Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu—all raised the issue of continuing human rights abuses in West Papua, and advocated for its right to self-determination.
These representations should by rights have emerged from the Pacific Islands Forum in Palau, but if rumour is to be trusted, the organisation’s larger economies are responsible for the Forum’s resounding silence on the issue.
In a tacit demonstration of the unwillingness to live within the Forum’s constraints, a half dozen Pacific leaders engaged in an orchestrated manoeuvre, a chorus of complaint against the clear pattern of systemic disregard for the human rights of indigenous West Papuans.
Talk may be all we can do about it, but at least we can do that. Continue reading