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Prime Minister pays tribute to late Ondawame at UN

Head of West Papua Mission Andy Ayamiseba (left) and Dr. Ondawame in a pose few months before his death - By Len Garae

Prime Minister Joe Natuman’s
 decision to pay tribute to the late West Papuan freedom fighter, Dr. John Otto Ondawame from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 29, was and is an indication of how close to the heart Vanuatu and its people hold the continuing suffering of the people of the Melanesian country in the Indonesian military strangled hold, and their determination to see the West Papuans finally free of colonial bondage.

The Prime Minister said Dr. Ondawame was a freedom fighter from West Papua who passed away last month while in exile in Vanuatu. “He was laid to rest in my country as a hero who had fought for the rights to self determination for the people of West Papua. He and other martyrs had a dream that one day the United Nations and all nations advocating and promoting the democratic principles will hear their cries and deliver the promise of a self-determined future. At his funeral service, I stated that his struggle for freedom and justice will continue to be our struggle until colonialism is eradicated”, the Prime Minister said.

While the Prime Minister focused on the late Ondawame, he said there are many other heroes in many countries that are still voiceless and are suffering in silence either due to unilateral policy choices or because of ignorance by the multilateral system. “My country is encouraged by the onset of flexibility exercised by the United States of America towards the Cuban people. I believe the willingness for dialogue and consideration is a responsible gesture that will slowly open the door for a better future for all Cubans. We as individual countries must be ready to be a voice of the voiceless. Bigger and richer countries must be the burden bearer for small nations. In doing so, we demonstrate the willingness to live as a village, a world community of friends and not aggressors. I want to stress that the only way to address this issue is through dialogue and unity. It is our moral responsibility not to fail those who have been victims of past ignorance”, he said.

The Prime Minister began his address by congratulating the people of the Republic of Fiji Islands for successfully and peacefully electing a new democratic Government. “My Government commends the people of Fiji for their resilience and steadfastness and I wish to congratulate the newly elected prime Minister, for fulfilling his promise to the international community to successfully lead his country to a democratic election”, he said.

The first diplomat from a member country attending the UNGA to congratulate him for his staunch address was Fiji’s own Minister for Foreign Affairs, Inoke Kubuabola.

Representatives of Foreign Missions from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific also congratulated the Prime Minister for his eye opening address.

Source: Daily Post

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