Len Garae – "As Christians, the people of Vanuatu love the people of Indonesia but the people hate the killings of Melanesian people of West Papua by Indonesian people".
The Chairman of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA), Elder Job Dalesa, made the above statement yesterday after VFWPA paused to "wait and see" how the Melanesian Arts Festival evolved after its launch last week.
Now that the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Director General (DG), Leonard Louma, has come clear, the Chairman also wishes to make it clear that the Festival Committee did not invite Indonesia in its festival programme.
"Let me be clear that the majority of the population of Vanuatu support the people of West Papua to become free from Indonesia," he said.
"However due to the killings of West Papuans by the people of Indonesia, our main concern now is the security of the Indonesians in Port Vila at present.
"While they are here we cannot guarantee their safety. The situation is very sensitive."
The Chairman was prompted to speak to the media as eyewitness reports that the Indonesian group's performance at the Seafront Stage was booed with remarks that they were not invited to be part of the Festival.
One eyewitness alleged that the group's performance seemed to have stopped half way through following the negative "grassroot" remarks and the group left for a nearby cafe.