Indigenous West Papuans Fighting For Independence From Indonesia

    It's our closest international border but most Australians know very little about West Papua and its Indigenous peoples' fight for independence.

    In 1969 Indonesia seized control of West Papua from the Dutch. The Suharto government wanted control of the territory's vast natural resources.

    The fight for recognition.

    The ULMWP lobbied MSG member groups Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands for full membership to the regional Bloc, presenting over 55,000 signatures from supporters within West Papua.

    Several of those who distributed the petition inside West Papua were arrested and not one person who signed the petition from within West Papua was in attendance at the summit.

    The MSG denied the ULMWP full membership, but gave them observer status, an historic and symbolic step toward being recognised as independent people of West Papua.“Despite not getting full membership we welcome the decision of the leaders as it our first step to full political recognition,” ULMWP Secretary General Octovianus Mote said.

    "Whilst this is the first step for West Papua, we will be working towards full membership into the MSG family. But our struggle for political recognition will not stop here, we will take it to the regional and international level as we are a nation in waiting”.

    In a statement to BuzzFeed News the Indonesian government, an associate member of the MSG, says that while it respects the decision by the MSG to grant observer status to the ULMWP, they are not the true representatives of the people of West Papua.

    The Aboriginal Provisional Government say they are working with West Papuan groups to develop their own passports.