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Vanuatu’s Manoeuvres on Papua and Melanesian Socialism

Papua and Melanesian Socialism

Arya Sandhiyuhda

By: Arya Sandhiyudha, Ph.D
Executive Director, The Indonesian Democracy Initiative (TIDI)

TRIBUNNERS – In the last few days, Vanuatu has twice raised the issue of Papua at the UN, namely at the 45th regular meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on September 25, 2020 which was delivered by Antonella Picone, his diplomat in Geneva.

Then in the General Debate Session of the UN General Assembly Session on September 27, 2020, delivered by Prime Minister Bob Loughman.

The essence of the statement raised by Vanuatu is the existence of racial discrimination and human rights violations in Papua.

Specifically to respond to Bob Loughman’s accusations, Indonesia used the Right of Reply conveyed by a young diplomat, Silvany Austin Pasaribu.

The appointment of a young diplomat to answer a statement from a prime minister seems to be the policy of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because this has been done since 2016, except in 2018 where the right of reply was conveyed by the Indonesian Ambassador to the United Nations, Dian Triansyah Djani.

The narrative delivered by Silvany is very sharp, and the diction that is used is also very harsh, including shameful and ignorant.

This diction is very harsh and even sarcastic, but it seems that this term is the right one to use for Vanuatu, which has always been hostile to Indonesia and has never tried to find out the true conditions.

The term shameful is used because Vanuatu does not strictly heed the UN Charter.

This country that criticizes Indonesia has not ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965, while Indonesia has.

It is interesting to examine more deeply, whether Vanuatu sincerely pays attention to the issue of Papua, or is it only for domestic political interests. This will be stated at the end of the writing.

Meanwhile, the term ignorant is applied to Prime Minister Bob Loughman because so far Vanuatu, although he continues to criticize and criticize Indonesia, never wants to open the door to dialogue to get balanced information about what is really happening in the eastern tip of Indonesia.

Vanuatu only listens to input from separatist groups who want to get away from Indonesia and routinely continue to spread hatred by using twisted data to gain international sympathy.

Vanuatu does not seem to understand (or is ignorant) of the conditions in Papua, and does not want to hear the truth because it will make it even more difficult for them to criticize.

The people who Vanuatu complained about were experiencing racial discrimination are currently leaders at various levels of local government ranging from governors, regents, mayors and even village heads.

Moreover, the top leaders of the regional police and even the top military leaders in the area were also indigenous.

Those people who are accused of experiencing racial discrimination are also enjoying education at various campuses throughout Indonesia and also in various regions of the world from Australia, Europe to America.

In the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the term “racial discrimination” means any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference based on race, color, descent or national origin on an equal footing, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political field. economics, or other areas of public life.

Based on the current conditions in both Papua and West Papua Provinces, there is no form of racial discrimination that is applied there.

Even Papuans have the same rights as other Indonesian citizens to become high state officials, high officials of ministries / institutions, and also become lecturers, or even become entrepreneurs anywhere in the archipelago.

So the term alleged racial discrimination by Vanuatu does not follow official references, but is more arbitrary, as I please, at will.

The question is, why do many Vanuatu governments insist on raising the issue of Papua.

This is because the concept of racism has actually been applied by Vanuatu since the country was formed. The concept of racism continues to be maintained and revived by most politicians to gain domestic benefits, namely in order to be elected as a member of the legislature or become a member of the cabinet, or even just as a public figure.

The founding father of Vanuatu and the first Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Walter Lini, had an obsession with forming a Federal Melanesian state through what he called Melanesian socialism.

For this reason, Walter Lini developed very close relationships with other Melanesian countries such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji.

As for the Melanesians in other countries, namely in Indonesia (Papua) and in New Caledonia (the Kanak tribe), it is necessary to fight for independence.

The concept of struggle for the founder of the Vanuatu state is clearly very racial, because when other countries began to unite by forming regional organizational groups that were separated from ethnic boundaries, race, language, culture and economic capacity, the founder of Vanuatu took the chauvinism step. narrowly looking at the superiority of the Melanesian race.

Vanuatu is a homogeneous country dominated by the Melanesian race, so it is easier to apply the existing concept. This concept of course cannot be applied in heterogeneous countries consisting of multi-ethnicities, such as Indonesia.

Even international countries are currently carrying out “burden sharing” problems for refugees from various countries involved in conflict who are not citizens of their country nor are they of the same ethnicity as them.

Although Vanuatu is currently more open and able to cooperate with non-Melanesian countries, this concept of Melanesian socialism continues to be maintained by most politicians to get support from the community, and the easiest is to raise the issue of people who they claim to be their brothers. , namely the Papuan people.

To get sympathy, they continued to raise the issue that there were still Melanesians who were oppressed and they would become heroes to free them.

But unfortunately these politicians lack the capacity to obtain information from both parties, or their ignorance of only accepting information from parties wishing to escape from Indonesia, regardless of the accuracy of the information they receive.

They even closed their eyes that development in Papua and West Papua Provinces was far more advanced than development in Vanuatu. And they also do not know that the official representatives of the Papuan people at the local level are the Governor, Mayor and Regent who are directly elected by the Papuan people, not the separatists who have appointed themselves as leaders.

As long as there are racial ideas for Melanesian socialism and the glory of the Melanesian nation, Vanuatu politicians will continue to raise the issue of Papua.

For that there must be an approach to them that the advancement of a race as they idealize does not mean that it must be in the form of one state, but can be part of a large bond of races that exist in a country.

And one more thing that the Vanuatu politicians may not understand, is that the Melanesian race in Indonesia is not only Papuan, but also Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara.

So, once again, moreover they are still ignorant and turn a blind eye to progress in Papua and continue to raise groundless accusations, then the appropriate words for them are: shameful and ignorant.


Papua and Melanesian Socialism here is an analysis that explain the misuse of socialism by Vanuatu that so ignorant to recognise the fundamental principle of State sovereignty. In the context of the need to protect human rights, the balance between State sovereignty and the protection of human rights in other states, there must be a sincere intention for human rights only.

When we listen and read what Vanuatu’s mean by human rights protection in West Papua and Papua, is not limited to basic human rights, but always about supporting separatist terrorist group, which Indonesia call it armed criminal group. Instigating conflict in other state is a very disgusting intervention. However, Indonesia as a democratic country seems to understand the narrow minded psychology of Vanuatu’s leaders. Hopefully, in the future Vanuatu will realise the importance of sincerity in their foreign policy. Vanuatu someday will open their heart to accept and understand the importance of peaceful coexistence, and set aside the racist narrative in the Pacific.

Papua and Melanesian Socialism can be implemented fairly by introducing the real meaning of socialism that respect all human race equally, not about special things like exclusive grouping, because at the end of the day we all human beings.

Papua and Melanesian Socialism can be good in the name of all Melanesian to unite including Melanesian Indonesian for their common interest, but it may have bad impact for example in the Pacific there are sub-region based on race of Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian. Within each sub-region there are ethnic groups that different from one another.

West Papua View All

This Blog has gone through many obstacles and attacks from violent Free West Papua separatist supporters and ultra nationalist Indonesian since 2007. However, it has remained throughout a time devouring thoughts of how to bring peace to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia.

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