Radio NZ– The Solomon Islands government says it’s not in a position to respond to a warning from Indonesia’s government not to speak out about West Papua.
Indonesia’s Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has urged Australia to pass on a message to Pacific Island governments to not interfere in Indonesian domestic affairs.
In media comments in the past week, he pressed Canberra to rebuke Pacific states, in particular Solomon Islands, for raising Papua in global forums and inviting Papuans to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
The Solomons’ envoy on West Papua, Rex Horoi, said his government won’t respond to what is effectively a media statement.
“Due to the fact that we have not received any formal communication (on the matter) either from Jakarta or from Canberra, why should we respond at this stage? Therefore we will not respond until we receive such communication through diplomatic channels,” he said.
Mr Ryacudu also told Australian media that it is better if Canberra delivers the warning to Pacific governments, because if it was left to him he would ‘twist their ears’ and described Indonesia as a sleeping tiger that can attack if disturbed.
However Mr Horoi said Pacific countries raised Papua in global fora because West Papuans lives matter.
“We speak collectively on abuse and human rights violations in West Papua because we have received reliable sources of information,” he explained, “and therefore that is the collective concern of the civil society, public and governments of the region.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has confirmed having discussed West Papua last week with the Indonesian Defence Minister, but wouldn’t be pressed on whether Canberra will pass the warning on.