The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) led by Benny Wenda presented a false report on the situation in Papua at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Summit, forcing Indonesia to walk out of the forum.

The summit of Melanesian countries, including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Kanak National Liberation Front and Socialist New Caledonia, held in Port Vila, Vanuatu on August 23-24, rejected the ULMWP’s proposed membership.

“The Indonesian delegate took steps customary in the world of diplomacy to express this rejection, including leaving the room when the ULMWP delivered a false narrative about the situation in Papua,” the ministry wrote in a statement on Saturday, 26 August 2023.

Indonesia, which is recognised as an associate member of the association, was represented by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Pahala Mansury. He declined the misuse of MSG for ULMWP propaganda.

The Melanesian countries’ joint statement reiterated that MSG membership is limited to sovereign states. The Foreign Affairs Ministry believed that the ULMWP was misusing the forum to justify acts of violence by its affiliated groups, such as hostage-taking, the burning of schools, and the killing of indigenous Papuans.

The ULMWP’s status at the MSG has so far been that of observer. The group continues to seek membership.

In response to the results of the MSG Summit, ULMWP hoped that the MSG Chair would honour the party’s commitment as a matter of urgency in light of the serious human rights violations in West Papua, including the recent human rights warning by the UN Special Adviser on Genocide.

ULMWP continued to encourage MSG to support the visit of the UN Human Rights Commissioner to Indonesia to directly monitor the situation in Papua. Meanwhile, regarding the requirements for membership in the group, ULMWP argued that MSG misinterpreted the principle of its establishment.