|Subject: Papua-1: AFR: Loud Echoes of East
Timor [+Hamish McDonald & Mark Baker]
5 Papua Reports (1 of 3):
- AFR Perspective: Loud Echoes of East Timor
- SMH by Hamish McDonald: Decades Later, a Familiar Syndrome of Complicity
- The Age by Mark Baker: Ignoring the Lesson of East Timor
- SMH: A Far Cry from Freedom
- The Australian by Greg Sheridan: Not Another East Timor
Australian Financial Review Saturday, April 8, 2006
Loud Echoes of East Timor
By Geoffrey Barker
For entirely conventional reasons of state, Australia has acquiesced in Indonesia's brutal incorporation and domination of West Papua over the past 37years.
Australia has seen its national interests served by supporting Indonesian rule rather than by supporting Papuan independence. It has wanted a peaceful West Papua-Papua New Guinea border. It has not wanted another vulnerable new nation in the neighbourhood.
Taking this realpolitik view has benefited Australia, but the angry and injured Indonesian reaction to the recent decision to grant political asylum to 42West Papuans has highlighted the continuing dangers that West Papua presents for Australian-Indonesian relations.
Unless handled with extreme care by Canberra and Jakarta, West Papuan independence demands and Indonesian military responses could precipitate a crisis infinitely more dangerous than the 1999 Australian-led United Nations military intervention in East Timor.
Such a crisis could spark an even tougher Indonesian military action to suppress West Papuan independence sentiment; it could boost Australian public support for the West Papuans, putting Canberra politicians under pressure to respond.
It could threaten Indonesia's progress towards democracy and stability by reviving strident nationalism and military influence in Jakarta; it could lead to military confrontation involving Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia on the West Papua border. Such developments would not be in Australia's or Indonesia's best interests.
The rutting-dog cartoons published in both countries (and condemned by both governments) are as much evidence of underlying atavistic impulses in both countries as they are of the welcome freedom of Indonesian and Australian newspapers to be crudely offensive.
Sensitive to the troubled history of Australian-Indonesian relations, Prime Minister John Howard has remained determinedly optimistic following President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's warning that relations with Canberra were entering "a difficult time".
He has welcomed Yudhoyono's hints of talks and reiterated Australian support for Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, while insisting that Indonesia extend to Australian processes for granting political asylum to the West Papuans the same respect that Australia extended to the Indonesian legal process that had Schapelle Corby jailed in Bali.
These are sound responses that should help ease immediate strains and perhaps, eventually, help encourage Indonesia to implement meaningfully the "special autonomy" status granted to West Papua by former president Abdurrahman Wahid six years ago.
Howard clearly accepts that Jakarta will not contemplate independence for West Papua - which Australia doubtless welcomes for reasons of regional stability. But West Papua is a hard case to dismiss with standard realpolitik analysis, however convenient it might be to do so.
Indonesia and Australia are in fact dealing with the historical legacy of West Papua's shameful treatment at their hands, and at the hands of the United Nations and the United States from the early 1960s.
Moreover, they are dealing with it in the context of the East Timor episode, when Australian-led military intervention supported East Timor's move to independence after some 25years of Indonesian rule.
The Indonesians seem to suspect that Australia wants to reprise its East Timor success in West Papua. Certainly West Papua and East Timor share some notable similarities.
Both territories were absorbed violently into Indonesia. Their populations are ethnically and religiously different from other parts of Indonesia's Islamic Javanese/Sumatran empire.
Both enjoy strong and influential, morally-based support from Australian and international human rights groups concerned about Indonesia's savage treatment of indigenous peoples and its willingness to exploit natural resources with little concern for the people.
The case of West Papua also has its own egregious features. The so-called 1969 Act of Free Choice through which West Papuans decided to become an Indonesian province was a farce and a sham in which the UN, Australia and the US were willing to connive for realpolitik reasons (including the Vietnam war).
From the 1960s, Indonesia has had a so-called "transmigration" policy of resettling non-Papuans from Java and Sumatra in West Papua. This program, accelerated in the 1990s, has led to the arrival of more than 1million settlers with the obvious intention of marginalising Papuans in the province.
Since the 1980s, Indonesia has permitted the US firm Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold to operate the world's largest open-cut copper and goldmine in West Papua - with appalling environmental consequences. Little of the revenue returns to Papua, although some Indonesian military commanders are understood to benefit.
It is estimated that at least 100,000Papuans have died as a result of Indonesian-government and military-backed violence designed to crush the OPM (Free Papua Movement) and its military arm TPN, the Liberation Army of Free Papua.
But highly motivated West Papuans, with strong international support, continue to push independence claims under the banner of their Morning Star flag, hoping at least for a UN review of the Act of Free Choice. The chances of this happening are remote - despite a 1962 New York agreement between The Netherlands, Indonesia and the UN to protect Papuan political rights.
As John Saltford's authoritative history concludes: "... the three parties failed, and they did so deliberately because genuine Papuan self-determination was never considered as a serious option by any of them". (*) That seems still to be the case.
The best the Papuans can hope for is a role in a regional autonomy arrangement agreed by Jakarta. Attempts to challenge Indonesian rule, and to oppose the rapacious exploitation of resources, will continue to be violently suppressed by the military.
Australia obviously accepts this state of affairs, but it is dealing with an Indonesia that remains deeply suspicious of its intentions and motives - and it faces the prospect of more asylum claims from Papuan activists.
Every claim granted is a tacit recognition of the violent and repressive nature of Indonesian rule, and every successful asylum seeker becomes a spokesman for Papuan independence.
Small wonder Howard and his ministers want to speak of the bureaucratic "process" for asylum claims for which they are not directly responsible.
Small wonder they do not want to speak about the human rights issues.
But they cannot make West Papua disappear - and it will continue to be a poisonous thorn in Australia-Indonesia relations.
(*) The United Nations and the Indonesian Takeover of West Papua, 1962-69. The anatomy of betrayal, John Saltford, Routledge and Curzon, 2003.
Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, April 8, 2006
Decades Later, a Familiar Syndrome of Complicity
By Hamish McDonald
THIRTY years ago I met a Papuan man called Imser in a place called Valley X, high in the mountainous spine of the Indonesian half of New Guinea.
First contact with the outside world had come only a few years earlier, when the French documentary filmmaker Pierre Dominique Gaisseau parachuted into an open patch of grassland, escorted by some Indonesian special forces troops under a young captain named Faisal Tanjung. Gaisseau had traversed Western New Guinea by land and river in 1958, when it was still held by the Dutch.
After pressure from the US, the Dutch had reluctantly transferred the territory to Indonesian control in 1963, after a brief United Nations interregnum, and a manipulated "act of free choice" in 1969 had resulted in a decision to stay with Indonesia.
Outsiders followed quickly into Imser's domain. Baptist missionaries from America set up a post in a valley nearby and cleared a simple airstrip, and were busy saving souls for Jesus.
A huge earthquake hit the area in 1976, creating a risk of famine, as the villages' taro gardens had simply slipped into the ravines.
The humanitarian need got me, a Jakarta-based correspondent, through the normal ban on reporters, and I flew in with the missionaries' air service. Handily, some German academics were at work in Valley X, and could interpret Imser's words about the disaster that had hit his little community.
The lack of food had made the population at least temporarily dependent on the missionaries. Some of them thought it funny that their new flock saw the earthquake as the wrath of Jesus and were fearfully handing over or burning carvings and totems.
Later, I heard from the Germans that Imser was killed not long after by a new landslide. What has happened to the other people of Valley X has long intrigued me, but I fear I would not be welcomed either by the Indonesian authorities, or the missionaries, who waged a long open-letter campaign and complained to various embassies over what I wrote about them.
What strikes anyone reading 30 years later about what we now call Papua is that its indigenous Melanesians are still unreconciled to being part of Indonesia.
The seeds of separatism were planted by the Dutch, who kept Papua out of the surrender of the East Indies in 1949, and started preparing it for self-rule with its own legislature and later, plans for independence in 1972.
The Dutch, who had been backed by Australia's Menzies, had abruptly dropped their resistance to a mounting Indonesian campaign of armed infiltration and attack, after John F. Kennedy's US administration bluntly warned them that Indonesia and the rest of South-East Asia would go communist unless Jakarta was appeased.
The subsequent "act of free choice" has been convincingly discredited by a British scholar, John Saltford, in his 2002 book Anatomy of a Betrayal, exposing the willingness of the UN to go along with a process whereby Indonesia's Opsus, a dirty-tricks intelligence outfit that figured in the 1965 anti-communist coup, bribed and intimidated 1022 selected representatives into a unanimous pro-Jakarta vote.
Last year, declassified US documents and a 740-page study by the Dutch historian Pieter Drooglever, commissioned by the Dutch Foreign Ministry in 2000, confirmed the vote was a sham.
Indonesian rule has only watered the plant of separatism with blood - Drooglever says tens of thousands have been killed by Indonesian soldiers - and rapacious resource extraction.
This goes not only for the once Dutch-influenced people in the towns but also the larger population of the less-malarial highlands, which, like Imser, was fresh human clay for nation-building when Jakarta took over.
Opsus and its agents, meanwhile, went on to orchestrate the subversion of East Timor in 1975. The officer who escorted Gaisseau into Valley X, Faisal Tanjung, became the powerful general fingered as controller of the militias that tried to stop East Timor going independent in 1999.
Papua is now a test of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a notorious fence-sitter. Pressing hard on him is a claque of noisy nationalist MPs and newspapers. Whatever the Papuans thought about it, the idea of Indonesia stretching "from Sabang [in Aceh] to Merauke [in the south-west corner of Papua]" is etched deep.
Their hardline solution is "divide and repress": hiving off the oil-rich western end of the territory as a new province, basing 15,000 troops there to cow local Melanesians and those in Papua New Guinea, and telling outsiders to mind their own business.
The alternative is wider autonomy, improving governance and deepening respect for human rights - accepting that this might snowball into stronger separatism and gradual foreign recognition.
Already Australia is coming under emotional blackmail by Indonesian hardliners, who blame our fragmented activists - churchmen, trade unionists, academics - for what their own misrule has created.
The Howard Government is sliding into a familiar syndrome of complicity, with the Defence Minister now calling asylum seekers "illegals"- despite their real risks of being bumped off like many other Papuan activists - and offering joint navy patrols to keep them bailed up inside Papua. History is being distorted, with the Prime Minister saying Papua has "always" been part of Indonesia.
Do we have to go down this road again? I'd like to learn one day that Imser's children and grandchildren enjoy security, dignity and some of Papua's wealth. Whether they wave Indonesian or Papuan flags is secondary.
The Age (Melbourne) Saturday, April 8, 2006
Ignoring the Lesson of East Timor
By Mark Baker
IN LATE 1969 one of the most shameful episodes in the history of decolonisation took place on Australia's northern doorstep. In a so-called "Act of Free Choice" thereafter recalled as "The Act of No Choice" thethe 1 million people of the then territory of West New Guinea were traded from one foreign master to another.
A thousand people hand-picked by the Indonesian military and threaatened with reprisals if they failed to comply voted "unanimously" for thhe former Dutch colony to be formally incorporated into Indonesia. Within weeks, this travesty of self-determination was rubber-stamped by the United Nations with the connivance of the United States and the acquiescence of Australia.
In the latest diplomatic dust-up between Canberra and Jakarta, over Papuan asylum seekers, much has been made of the supposed differences between the troubled modern history of the territory now known as West Papua and that of East Timor particularly by an Australian Government that likes to congrratulate itself on its role in helping secure Timorese independence but is now determined to deny legitimacy to the identical ambitions of indigenous Papuans.
The prize for the most ignorant contribution this week to an already muddied debate goes to Treasurer Peter Costello who told ABC radio: "West Papua has always been part of Indonesia. Ever since Indonesia has existed as an independent country West Papua had always been part of Indonesia whereas, East Timor, of course was not."
Actually, Peter, the Dutch did not leave West Papua until 1962 13 years after relinquishing the rest of their Asian empire to the new Indonesian republic and then only after a long struggle, supported by the Menzies Goveernment through the 1950s, to resist the expansionist ambitions of the leftist Soekarno regime in Jakarta. It was another seven years before Jakarta's land grab was formalised via the UN pantomime.
The disturbing truth is that West Papua and East Timor have so much in common that it would be unwise of either Jakarta or Canberra to think that the history of Timor cannot be repeated in West Papua and foolhardy off both not to tailor their policy responses accordingly.
Both territories are demonstrably different from the Indonesian mainstream in culture, language and religion. Both were press-ganged into the Indonesian republic Timor through a brazen and bloody invasion in 1975; West Papua via Western capitulation under threat of annexation.
In Timor, a tiny guerilla army kept alive the dream of independence until the fall of the Soeharto regime created the possibility. In West Papua, the ragtag OPM guerillas have fought even longer for the same independence that came automatically to their Melanesian brothers in neighbouring Papua New Guinea, and are now joined by a new generation of determined urban activists.
The critical difference between the two national stories is that while Jakarta was able to relinquish East Timor when its continued brutal occupation became untenable at little immediate cost beyond a massive loss of face, West Papua has become vital to Indonesia's development.
West Papua's vast mineral, timber and fisheries resources ought to have put its people among the richest in the developing world. Instead they remain locked in poverty; second-class citizens in a territory dominated by more than a million people brought from other parts of Indonesia under the transmigration program the Soeharto regime's brand of ethnic cleansing. The American-owned Freeport mine the world's biggest gold mine andd third largest copper deposit has contributed an estimated $33 billion too the Indonesian economy since the 1960s, only a fraction of that coming back to the local people. That inequity, combined with the massive environmental impact of mining, has fuelled the separatist unrest.
Freeport's response, according to a recent New York Times investigation, has been to pay tens of millions in "protection" money to Indonesian security forces whose methods include a well-documented history of torture, rape and extrajudicial killing.
The angry Indonesian reaction to the decision allowing 42 West Papua asylum seekers to remain temporarily in Australia, and the Howard Government's responses to that, suggest neither government acknowledges the magnitude of the problem unfolding in West Papua.
The Papuan issue is a critical test for the reformist President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Under challenge from nationalist rivals and entrenched military corruption, he is understandably upset at developments that make his task even harder and he must be seen at home to be taking a tough line with Australia. But if Indonesia's much-vaunted return to democracy means anything, then Yudhoyono must also acknowledge and act on the deteriorating situation in West Papua.
For its part, Canberra achieves nothing by refusing to face the fact of systematic human rights abuses, economic exploitation and environmental vandalism that is forming an explosive political cocktail in West Papua. Instead of speaking out in defence of principle and urging Jakarta to stick tto its promises of political autonomy and social justice for the Papuans the Federral Government clings to the same tired script of denial and appeasement that unfolded so disastrously in East Timor.
The Government's stumbling responses to the boat people crisis inccluding a risky proposal for joint naval patrols to stop any more people reaching Australia suggest it would prefer to bury its head in the sand ratther than get serious about the underlying issues.
Asked earlier this week how he intended to respond to Indonesia's protests, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said: "Well, look, I think we'll just let things plod along for a little while and gradually rebuild our communications."
Mark Baker is diplomatic editor.
Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, April 8, 2006
A Far Cry from Freedom
By Tom Allard
IN THE sad, bloody history of Papua, there have been fleeting moments of optimism, the last of which, dubbed the Papuan Spring, occurred in 2000.
Ferra Kambu remembers it well. A devout Christian and health worker, she joined the separatist movement under the leadership of Theys Eluay, a tribal chief.
In this post-Soeharto thaw in tensions, the Morning Star flag was allowed to fly, a Papuan legislature formed and Jakarta's elite was engaging with the indigenous population and its grievances.
"It was a good time. We thought we could speak freely then," Kambu, one of 42 asylum seekers granted visas for Australia, says.
As special autonomy legislation was drawn up, giving Papuans a measure of control over their own affairs and a majority share of royalties from the vast natural resources, hopes flourished.
Eluay was invited to a dinner party by the Indonesian special forces, Kopassus, at their military barracks as guest of honour.
He never returned home. He was killed by his hosts, and the detente between Jakarta and the Papuans ended as abruptly as the life of Eluay.
"From this time on, things went bad for me. I had been outspoken and became aware of being a target for assassination," Kambu says. "They had maps identifying the houses and the intelligence services had lists. We were No. 4 on the list."
Married to Herman Wainggai, the nephew of a prominent figure in the Papuan separatist movement, Kambu says she was constantly on the move around the country. Her husband was jailed and communication with supporters occurred only under the guise of prayer meetings.
"When I gave birth to my children in the hospital, there are police there posing as medical people," she says. "They wanted me to have an operation but I refused. I was very frightened."
Radicalised by her time in the remote Papuan Highlands, Kambu says, in her role as a health civil servant, she had witnessed the results of countless rapes, mutilations and murders of village women by hit-and-run squads of Indonesian soldiers.
"They would rape them in front of everyone, in front of the parents. They would dump the bodies in the lake, and the parents' bodies too," she says.
HIV-AIDS was running rampant, Kambu says, and she blames the deliberate introduction of prostitutes from other parts of Indonesia.
Her claims, along with other allegations of beatings and extrajudicial killing made by her fellow asylum seekers, are alarming but impossible to independently verify. Certainly, the Indonesian Government rejects them entirely.
But there is no shortage of contemporary reports that underscore serious concerns about human rights violations in Papua.
Lawyers for the asylum seekers relied heavily on the findings of a US State Department report released this year to persuade immigration officials of the refugees' case.
"Security forces murdered, tortured, raped, beat and arbitrarily detained civilians and members of separatist movements, especially in Aceh and to a lesser extent in Papua," the report said. Alleged abuses were not properly investigated and seizure of private property by the military and police was common. The security forces used torture to obtain information.
If it sounds like a reprise of East Timor, there are some similarities. Senior police and military commanders who had been in charge in the former Indonesian province during the terrible days leading up to its autonomy vote were moved to Papua from 2000.
The notorious Timorese anti-independence militia figure Eurico Guterres also moved, forming Laskar Merah Putih (Red and White Warriors) in Papua in 2003 and reportedly building a membership of hundreds from his base near the controversial Freeport mine.
A UN report this year confirmed there had been 180,000 civilian deaths in East Timor at the hands of authorities under Indonesian rule.
In the interests of stability and relations with Jakarta, Australia and the new East Timorese Government decided not to pursue most of the perpetrators of the abuse.
In the end, the problem of human rights violations, at least in part, shifted to Papua and, with the arrival of the asylum seekers, the Australian Government now has to deal with the consequences.
The Australian Saturday, April 8, 2006
Not Another East Timor
By Greg Sheridan
I sent such a strong message to the people of West Papua. Do not imagine for a moment we want you to come to Australia. -- John Howard, Radio 3AW
SO let's go back to first causes. Should Indonesia be ruling West Papua in the first place? Like most questions of history, this one is really messy and depends how far back you go.
John Howard on radio this week, in distinguishing West Papua from East Timor, commented: "There was a referendum supervised by the United Nations which resulted in West Papua becoming part of Indonesia so the history is quite different."
Howard is both quite correct and somewhat misleading in this statement. The act of free choice in 1969 was indeed supervised and ratified by the UN, so it has huge political and legal consequence.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that as a legitimate act of free choice it was a sham. Indonesia had controlled West Papua since 1963 and Indonesian authorities hand-picked 1000 representatives who were all prevailed upon to support incorporation.
Yet go back a bit further again and the story becomes much more complex. When the Dutch were asserting their rights of possession of West Papua against British and German colonies in the eastern part of New Guinea, one of the justifications they used was the authority over West Papua of the sultan of Tidore in the Moluccas.
When the Indonesians achieved independence in 1949 they believed they were the independent state succeeding what had been the Dutch East Indies. But the Dutch refused to cede West Papua.
Why? Was it that the Dutch were interested in the province's mineral wealth? Was there a touch of nationalist pride for the Dutch, who had been overrun by the Japanese, then chased away by the Indonesians? Were they concerned with the way Indonesian nationalist leader Sukarno was behaving? Did they worry that the Papuans were too ethnically different from the mainly Malay Indonesians?
All through the 1950s Australia supported the Dutch position, but this had nothing to do with concern over Papuan self-determination.
In 1955 Australia's then foreign minister, Richard Casey, took a submission to cabinet offering three reasons for supporting the Dutch. First, they had legal sovereignty. Second, they were good neighbours to Australian-controlled east New Guinea.
But the third was the best. Casey submitted "that it is desirable in the interests of Australia's own defence that West New Guinea should be in the hands of a non-communist government. Indonesia is non-communist but ... we cannot be sure that it will not in the course of time fall into the communist orbit."
Australia tried quite hard to get the US and Britain to support the Dutch. But neither was interested. Australia's position was highly unpopular in Asia and Africa because it was seen as supporting European colonialism.
Ultimately it was the administration of John F. Kennedy that acted decisively to persuade all parties that Indonesia was going to win eventually. The Dutch position was hopeless so, rather than have a military confrontation, it gave West Papua over to temporary UN administration in 1962, in preparation for the Indonesians taking over in 1963 and the act of self-determination in 1969.
It's all pretty messy but almost all acts of de-colonisation are. After all, no one in the world suggested that Hong Kong should have a vote of self-determination when it was de-colonised by the Brits. Goa was simply occupied by the Indians when the Portuguese got out, although it had never been a British colony.
Similarly, the people of Sabah and Sarawak, the Borneo states of Malaysia, were never consulted about whether they wanted to be part of Malaysia. A British lord said that's what a majority of the tribal chiefs preferred but in reality it was just that they had been British colonies and Malaysia was to be the successor state to the British colonies in Southeast Asia. But there are examples in both directions because that same formulation didn't work for Singapore, which left Malaysia.
Indonesia hasn't ruled West Papua very well. But all large, poor states are disorderly.
There is an active Naxalite rebellion that controls significant territory in Orissa, Bihar and several other Indian states, and the Indian police and military certainly have behaved on occasion just the same as the Indonesian police and military. But no one suggests therefore the break-up of India.
West Papua is different only because it lives next door to a Western media in Australia.
But often the more international attention a problem gets, the worse it becomes. The West Papuan independence leaders are inspired in part by the example of East Timor.
It is a false inspiration. Indonesia did not lose even East Timor because the reality on the ground became insupportable (this did not happen until after the independence referendum). Rather, for a variety of still mysterious reasons, then president B.J. Habibie decided to hold a referendum.
East Timor was thus a miracle. It's a miracle very unlikely to be repeated in West Papua unless Indonesia becomes an absolutely broken-backed state, of which there is no sign.
The critical ways in which West Papua is different from East Timor include the fact that West Papua's incorporation into Indonesia is fully recognised by the UN and universally accepted by all other nations in the world. This was never the case with East Timor. The question of ultimate legitimacy does not arise for most of the international community.
There is no equivalent of Portugal, which always sponsored East Timorese independence. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende made clear last week he supports Indonesian sovereignty in West Papua. The West Papuan independence movement, politically and militarily, is infinitely weaker than the East Timorese movement was. There is no Papuan equivalent of Jose Ramos-Horta or Xanana Gusmao.
Many West Papuans, perhaps 40 per cent of its population, are, as a result of internal migration from elsewhere in Indonesia, not ethnic Papuan. To create a Papuan state, will these people need to be ethnically cleansed?
Of course, Indonesia needs to behave much better in West Papua. Autonomy is less important than better governance, better health and education and greater economic development. This is the real priority. Outsiders who encourage an independence movement will only be encouraging people to get themselves killed.
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------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service