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Indonesia, Australia and West Papua,Damien Kingsbury  Nick Chesterfield
 Mar 24, 2006 00:03 PST 


      Indonesia and Australia
      <http://antonyloewenstein.com/blog/2006/03/24/indonesia-and-australia/>

Published by Antony Loewenstein
<http://antonyloewenstein.com/blog/author/antonyl/> March 24th, 2006 in
General <http://antonyloewenstein.com/blog/category/general/>

The Australian government should be congratulated for giving
<http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/jakarta-rage-over-visas/2006/03/23/1143083906919.html>
temporary protection visas to a group of West Papuan refugees escaping
Indonesian repression. It is a welcome start, though much more can be done.

Damien Kingsbury
<http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts/Staff/index.php?UserId=68&StaffDetail=true>
is Director of International and Community Development at Deakin
University and an Indonesia expert. The following article is his comment
on the latest diplomatic and political row between Indonesia and
Australia and is published here exclusively:

/*Indonesia, Australia and West Papua
Damien Kingsbury*/

/Australia’s decision to grant 42 of 43 Papuan asylum seekers temporary
protection has put Australia’s relationship with Indonesia under renewed
strain. It has also highlighted contradictions in Australia’s policy
toward Indonesia./

/The already parlous political environment in Papua has worsened in
recent months. The escape to Australia by 36 adult Papuans and seven
children, claiming human rights abuses, was both an indication of this
increasing problem, and intended to highlight it. The riot at the giant
Freeport gold and copper mine
<http://www.cpa.org.au/garchve06/1266wpapua.html> last Thursday, in
which three police and a military intelligence officer were killed, was
another./

/There have also been a series of demonstrations and riots in and around
the provincial capital of Jayapura against the elections on 10 and 11
March for the legislatures of the now divided province. Jakarta had
promised to address Papua’s many political and economic problems with
the granting of ‘special autonomy’ in 2001. However, this ‘special
autonomy’ has largely been observed in the breach, with the division of
the province being the final betrayal./

/The TNI has also doubled the number of its permanent troops in Papua
since last September. Their casual violence towards indigenous Papuans
and the requirement to fund up to three-quarters of their living costs
from local sources – both legal and illegal – has worsened the local
security environment. Last December, military (TNI) commander in Papua,
Major-General Mahidin Simbolon - who was deeply involved in East Timor’s
violence in 1999 - confirmed that local soldiers and police had been
paid US$26.6 million between 1998 and 2004 by Freeport for ‘protection’./

/Australia’s recognition of the claims of the Papuans as political
refugees highlights its own internally contradictory policy towards
Indonesia. The granting of asylum officially confirms their claims of
continuing human rights abuses in the territory. Indonesia’s special
forces, Kopassus, murdered Papuan leader Theys Eluay in 2001./

/Last year, Australia formally renewed training between the army’s SAS
and Kopassus, which had been ended after the TNI’s involvement in the
destruction of East Timor in 1999./

/Australia’s military links with Indonesia, and its proposed security
treaty which will probably be signed in June, is the sort of papering
over of such contradictions that led to the fallout between Australia
and Indonesia over East Timor. It was, and remains, a policy, the longer
term costs of which are much greater than its claimed short term benefits./

/Meanwhile, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is trying to
bring the TNI more firmly under civilian control, which the TNI is
resisting. The TNI’s position in Papua, and the future status of the
territory, is the test case in this contest for control./

/Yudhoyono’s closeness to Australia will work against him and damage his
cautious but clear reform agenda, including on an intended negotiated
outcome to the Papua problem. He, or more likely his senior ministers,
such as Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono, will therefore have to be
seen to be critical of Australia and thus play into the hands of the
pro-TNI hardliners./

/Australia’s contradictory and confusing policy towards the TNI does not
assist Yudhoyono in his efforts towards military reform, complicates
Indonesia’s internal political processes, and leaves most Australians
wondering why successive governments have insisted on supporting such a
corrupt and brutal military./

/A clearer policy for Australia would be, like the Indonesian government
itself, to recognize that the TNI is still not under civilian authority.
It should therefore refuse to deal with them until that is clearly and
demonstrably the case. Accepting Papuan asylum seekers would then be
consistent with this view and it would actually accord with the
Indonesian president’s own policy towards the TNI./

/But that is not Australia’s policy at this time. And given the almost
fetish-like insistence by influential policy advisers in Canberra of
cuddling up to the TNI regardless of its crimes, Australia’s
relationship with Jakarta will continue to be bounced from pillar to post./

/In the meantime, the people of Papua, and elsewhere in Indonesia, will
wear at least some of the consequence of Australia’s confused bilateral
policy. /
	
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