The small group of protesters with a message to free West Papua
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA- WEDNESDAY 06 SEPTEMBER 2017: The Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum, Dame Meg Taylor has acknowledged the voice of a small group of protesters in support of the campaign to free West Papua.
Twenty protesters with placards calling to free West Papua waited on the seaward side of the Sheraton Hotel for Dame Taylor to arrive for the start of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting.
The police were already trying to disband the group.
“I’m not going to interfere with what police are saying. This is their jurisdiction, but I came to acknowledge the voice of the Samoan people, as I will be meeting with officials from other countries. God bless you all,” Dame Taylor told the protesters.
The protest was organized by Jerome Mika of the Samoa First Union who said the protest was a call on some Pacific leaders to join the seven Pacific countries pushing to resist West Papua with the United Nations Decolonisation committee.
The seven countries are Nauru, Marshall Islands, Solomons, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Tonga.
To other protesters, Dame Taylor may have said little, but it meant a lot to them.
Unasa Iuni Sapolu said their voices may not have been heard by the Forum leaders but by an influential member of the Forum.
“Stand up for the sake of the Pacific people. We may not get a few dollars because of our donor partners, but that’s not going to get us anywhere,” said Unasa.
Joining in the protest were members of the International Transport Federation (ITF) from Australia.
Speaking to Talamua, Mick Domminer of ITF said they work very closely with Samoa First Union and the Australian Trade Movement.
“It is convenient to come and protest in support of West Papua, where they have been threatened very badly by the United Nations, by countries in our region, neighbours who do not lend support and Indonesia behaving in a way of genocide,” said Domminer.
“We use this Forum to voice our concerns and we know Indonesia is not here, but Australia and other Pacific countries should be putting a voice to the issue on what’s happening in West Papua,” said Mick.
Police turned up in numbers to secure the area, and Superintendent Soloi tried to reason with Unasa on the issue of obtaining a permit to congregate.
However, Unasa told Soloi she does not need a permit to congregate, and cited human rights and advised the police to talk to the Attorney General.