News about Papua has been on the headlines recently. Many interested parties and wrong informed people are making false news about Papua. It is best described as something of a blend between myth, hoax, and some facts. In some international forums, false issues about Papua also came up several times. Fortunately, like the obscurity of its sources, it also died in obscurity. In matters of Papua and the Pacific Islands countries, Indonesia must be wise in choosing their concerns.
In the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Micronesia in mid September of 2016, issues that were brought up by ULMWP, a separatist group demanding the separation of West Papua from Indonesia (read also What You Need To Know About ULMWP), were not being responded. The issues they brought up is the demand to follow up decisions from the 46th PIF in 2015, Papua New Guinea. The decision is for PIF countries to send Fact Finder Team to come to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia and gather facts about their allegations that will strengthen their arguments to separate West Papua from Indonesia. In that forum, the leaders of PIF understand the sensitivity of the issues of Papua. They agree that those issues are just propaganda. The leaders of PIF agree that an open and constructive dialogue with the government of Indonesia is important. Papua and the Pacific Islands seem to have a good relationship ahead.
There are also several Solomon Islands figures who view that the relationship between Indonesia and Solomon Islands are more important than issues about ULMWP. These important figures are important assets for Indonesia’s diplomacy regarding issues about Papua.
The countries of Pacific Islands are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands. Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In the 10th Pacific Islands Conference’s of Leaders Meeting (PICLM) in Honolulu from August 30 to September 1, 2016, global and regional issues that highly affect the Pacific Islands countries were discussed. Climate change, has become the concerns and top priority issue of the Pacific islands countries.
Pacific islands countries are small nations, prone to climate change. It has become one of their top priorities to overcome. Climate change that has already affects the lives of many people in the Pacific Islands. The lack of ability to overcome disasters have already make them vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weathers such as hurricanes, flood, heavy rain, drought and the following effects such as erosion, water shortage, and others. The predicted rise in sea levels, altered precipitation patterns, higher temperatures and acidification of the ocean will also worsen the situation for people of the Pacific islands. Not only because they are highly dependent to nature but also because of their lack of ability to cope with it. The Pacific Islands countries are far away from major markets with small populations that spread across the many islands in far distances. Eight Pacific Island countries are among the 20 countries in the world with the highest average annual disaster losses scaled by gross domestic product.
Indonesia as the biggest democratic country in the world and the fifth highest populated country must put their concerns in cooperating with other countries in more constructive issues. In the case of Papua and Pacific Islands countries, Indonesia must understand the priority and the needs of the Pacific Islands countries.
It would be wise for Indonesia to not entertain the false news about Papua in international forums, and in the forums of the Pacific Islands countries in particular. Especially, to the Pacific Islands countries that still brought up issues about Papua, such as Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. Indonesia need to support the well being of Pacific Islands countries in the regional and international forums. With the best intentions, Indonesia can brought up the issues related to climate change, how to overcome it and how Indonesia can give their support.