By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
It is alleged that the continued killing of West Papuans is contributing to the drastic decline in their population.
An advocate of the West Papua campaign, in Papua New Guinea, says research has shown that this could mean a total wipe out of this group of people in coming years.
Jean Parkop has been an advocate for the West Papuan people in Papua New Guinea, since she was a student at the University of PNG in the 1980’s.
She now leads the committee that deals with West Papuan issues in the country.
“We want to save the Melanesians of West Papua because if we don’t take action, there are predictions that in the next 50 years, West Papuans will become extinct on the face of the earth,” Mrs Parkop says.
History and experience has shown that the displacement of a group of people from their indigenous land, drastically decreases the chance of the survival of their culture.
For the West Papuans, the threat is more urgent because of the killings of those who remain on their indigenous land.
“West Papuans want to sing their own song, they want to dance their own dance…and this is not what is happening,” Mrs Parkop says.
Support for the call to stop the killings come from around the world, and in PNG, the support is growing stronger.
Just yesterday, Prime Minsiter, Peter O&rsquO’Neill called for more support to end the brutality and oppression of the West Papuan people. He was speaking at the Leadership Summit, where all Papua New Guinean bureaucrats and politicians were in attendance. His comments for PNG to take action as a regional leader on this issue, were met with applause and shouts of approval from the audience.
“We tend to forget our brothers and sisters on the other side…..We have a moral obligation to be the the voice for those who are not allowed to speak, to be the eyes for those who are blindfolded,” he said.
Gary Juffa, a fellow parliamentarian and strong supporter, shares the same sentiments.
He says we can no longer pretend that there is no problem. He says, “These are Melanesians, they are a Pacific people. They want to determine their own destiny. In 1952, ninety eight percent of the population on that side of the island was West Papuans; now that has decreased to only 48%.”
The campaign in Papua New Guinea has been here since the 1950’s, when the struggle began. Fred Mambrasar, campaigns coordinator says, support from the people of PNG has been with them since and remains to this day.
Mrs Parkop says, over the last 10 years they have seen an increase in support, especially from young people who have been using social media to know more about the issue.
For West Papuans living in Papua New Guinea as refugees, there is progress, and some good news on gaining citizenship.
The government has removed the K10, 000 fine that was initially imposed on them.
Efforts are also under way to create a registration committee, that will ensure they are all registered and are given the opportunity to gain citizenship.
“Gavaman ino forcim mipla, lo kisim (citizenship) em mipla yet,” Mr Mambrasar says. (The PNG government is not forcing us to become PNG citizens, it is up to us.)
It is estimated that there are over 10, 000 West Papuans living in PNG.
For people like Fred, this development towards gaining citizenship is a welcome relief.
“Em bai mi kisim because..mi bai gat fridom long PNG.” (I will be become a PNG citizen, because it will mean I will have freedom in PNG.)