Protestors take up West Papua’s cause at Apia Forum

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, has promised protesters that their voice on West Papua will be heard by the leaders attending the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting this week.

Dame Meg delivered the promise when she personally appeared before protesters in front of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel this morning where the meeting is taking place. 

West Papua may not have had a seat at the Pacific Leaders Forum table this week but they were not forgotten by Samoans who showed up to demonstrate on their behalf.

The protest was led by prominent lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu.

Between 30-35 members of the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union, Samoa First Union, Pacific Climate Warriors and Free West Papua supporters, joined forces to demonstrate outside the P.I.Fs meeting.

Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor came out to personally acknowledge the protestors before heading into the Sheraton. 

Supporters of the moment chanted “Freedom for West Papua” and sang songs from the Mau making the connection back to our own ancestors struggle for Samoan Independence and Sovereignty.

The demonstrators made their message loud and clear to the delegates, leaders and onlookers this morning as P.I.F members made their way to the Sheraton to begin the first day of official talks after last night’s opening.

The group was later asked to disperse an hour into their demonstration by Police Spokesperson Sala’a Sale Sala’a.

The group did not have a permit to protest.

Jerome Mika from the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union spoke with Sala’a and agreed to leave the area until a permit could be processed. 

The Free West Papua supporters were satisfied with their efforts this morning and will be aiming to return at the end of the business day hoping to catch the Leaders - and perhaps the world’s attentions again.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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