Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

Road map for West Papua

I wrote a piece recently about the new Cabinet of the Indonesian government, including their new Foreign Minister Marty Natelegawa who gained his PhD at the Australian National University.  As I’ve written a number of times, Indonesia has made very impressive progress in a range of areas in recent years.  I believe one of their biggest unaddressed challenges is West Papua, which is an issue with both internal and foreign policy components.

Carmel Budiardjo, a co-director of the human rights organisation Tapol, wrote an interesting piece in the Jakarta Post about where things are at with West Papua issue.  It is a positive sign in itself that such pieces now appear in the Indonesian media.  The article draws on a report done by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, called “Papua Road Map: Negotiating the Past, Improving the Present and Securing the Future.”

The report aims to put forward “a model to achieve a comprehensive and fundamental resolution to the Papuan Conflict.”  The report was funded by the Government of Indonesia, which is another positive sign of the growing support for civil society examination of sensitive issues.

Ms Budjardjo also has a different piece on the same issue in New Matilda.


9 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. How hypocritical & feeble of Schwarzenegger to demand Tookie Williams apologise while Schwarzenegger remains silent about the mass slaughter and colonisation of West Papua so he can do deals with the Indonesian government? I’ve had a soft spot for Andrew Bartlett for some time, but like many soft spots, it’s not a completely rational one.

    You praise Indonesia for “impressive progress” while still denying that West Papua is a COLONY?

    Indonesia has NO BUSINESS being in Papua, it’s a violation of it’s membership of the United Nations and it’s support in 1960 of UN General Assembly resolution 1514. It was illegal for the US to force the trade of human beings in the 1962 New York Agreement selling the Dutch colony to Indonesia, and it is vile that it was done for benefit of the Freeport corporation and it’s Bechtel & Exxon & Newmont friends.

    Although Sukarno and his thugs should have been disarmed in 1945 like the rest of the Axis forces, it has been the American corporations willing to do deals with Generals for cheap access to other people’s minerals that has shaped our region of the world for the worse. And silence about it does not help any of us.

  2. paul walter

    Can understand Andrew Bartlett’s article, as a means to adult discourse-something that enlightened folk in Australia and places like Indonesia, have been working to build from some time, against a sometimes difficult backdrop.
    But I find Andrew Johnson’s objections also totally understandable.
    Nor should we exclusively finger a point at Indonesians and the Indonesians. They were as damaged by colonialism as any developing country, and if they are still a little clumsy in their ways of dealing with the sort of “difference” West Papua offers, then I beleive a look at the history of Australian relations with South East Asia hardly affords any Australian with common sense, much comfort or much of a right to finger point at anyone.
    And then there’s the elephant in the room; interference under the public radar, from big powers like the US and China and big business interests both Asian and from outside Asia,
    Nuff said?

  3. Mr Lee Nightingale

    I have worked with the West Papua New Guinea National Congress for about the last ten years and can say that this organisation is a part of the OPM and is not controlled by Indonesia like other West Papuan organisations (the Presidium) and so called leaders.

    We estimate conservatively that about three million native West Papuans have died as a result of the Indonesian occupation of West Papua based upon population growth and population estimates and comparisons with PNG.

    The native West Papuan people in the vast majority continue to reject Indonesian occupation of West Papua. They continue to aspire to self determination and independence from Indonesia.

    West Papua has a separate colonial legal status from Indonesia because West Papua was a separate colony from Indonesia. The legal case for West Papua is identical to that of East Timor. The Indonesia occupation is illegal.

    Indonesia has accepted international development money for decades for West Papua and spent very little in West Papua of this money.

    Indonesia and Freeport and others has stolen natural resources for decades and left widespread environmental damage in West Papua.

    Only recently Bri- Mob police were riding motor cycles around West Papua injecting native West Papuans with aids but telling them it was for other sicknesses. This is but one example of many, many acts of genocide.

    Life in West Papua has not improved and the best thing a new forward looking Government of Indonesia can do is to let West Papua be free like it was for thousands of years.

    I find it disturbing that human rights minded people seem to have deserted the native people of West Papua. All the West Papuans want is their freedom.
    Mr Lee Nightingale;
    International Advisor;

  4. paul walter

    Well I hope someone conversant in these sorts of statistics can come forward and clarify Lee Nightingale’s comment re a death toll of
    “three million native
    West Papuans”.
    Not because it’s that fantastic a notion, either. Remember Suharto and the massacre of the PKI, post Sukarno, or the horrors of occupied East Timor.
    Given the yawning black hole of silence concerning Australia and south east Asia, perhaps one should prepare for the prospect of being one day marched around to look at the mounds of corpses, like the residents of the village closest to Dachua, where the locals were famously herded out to see the handiwork of the government they had acquiesced to.

  5. Lee Nightingale:

    Thanks Lee for bringing to this blog a realistic view of what is actually happening in West Papua.
    I know this issue is very close to your heart and people really need to stand up and have a look at what is happening there.

    I personally salute you for all the work you’ve done in bringing this to the attention of people both in Australia and abroad. I only hope that one day someone has the courage in our Parliament to stand up make a stand for these people that have suffered for so long.

    Statehood and freedom is the only answer to this problem, and the sooner we push for this in Australia and pressure the UN and the US who seem to be supporting (or turning a blind eye) the better.

    Once again, Thank you and should the DLP again gain representation at the next Federal election, I can assure you their calls for help will not be left unanswered.


  6. Andrew

    I think it’s indisputable that Indonesia has made impressive progress in a very short space of time. That is not whitewashing the ongoing problems, but it is recognising you don’t get from brutal military dictatorship to lilywhite democracy overnight. And I’ve said a million times on this blog and elsewhere (and part of why I keep doing pieces on West Papua) is that this is their biggest blind spot

    Given Australia still can’t acknowledge its own very brutal history of occupation, colonisation and dispossession of the Indigenous peoples here, I don’t think we can be too high moral ground about Indonesia’s unwillingness to acknowledge the brutality towards the Indigenous peoples of West Papua. Their sham referendum ‘approving’ an Indonesian takeover was a sham more than what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were ever offered, including in areas where they still remain a majority. Again that doesn’t excuse it, but it contextualises it.

    The fact that a road map such as this has been produced and promoted from within Indonesia is very significant and in my view worthy of much more attention than it has received. That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with it’s proposals, and I wouldn’t expect Lee or those he works with to think it is anywhere near sufficient, knowing some of what he and they have pursued for many years. But (a) a journey has to go along a pathway and (b) ultimately it should be up to the West Papuan people to determine that path.

    Tony, given your hope that “one day someone has the courage in our Parliament to stand up make a stand for these people” you will no doubt be pleased to know that the Democrats and later the Greens – in particular your friend Bob Brown – have been vocal on behalf of these people in the federal Parliament for decades.

  7. Lorikeet

    Oh well, I guess this proves that we can say anything we want many times over, even in a public forum, and still nobody listens!

  8. Barbarlin Samon-Sabra

    Thanks alot that someone from Australia is still supporting the West Papuan cause.

    Although Indenesia is improving the lives of the people of West Papua, I think the people should be left alone to rule their own country as they are not Asians, they are Melanesians .

    I am praring that one day my melanesian brothers and sisters will be independant off Indonesia.

  9. Barbarlin Samon-Sabra

    Many in our party are still active to achieve just that.
    In fact we have former freedom fighters for the cause in the party and others who have spent many thousands of their own funds helping the cause.
    Lee Nightingale is a great supporter and International Advisor;
    Lets all wish him luck in his attempt to win the seat of Moreton in Queensland. I’m sure many will remember his efforts for West Papua and also Timor when they were in a similar postion.

    Best of luck in Moreton Lee. Australia needs more people with the get up and go (in the defence of these great causes) that you have shown over the years.

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