more West Papua info – UPDATED

This post contains links to a few more articles providing background on the West Papua issue. Some of them were provided in comments on previous posts, but I know not everyone follows the comments threads on these posts, so I thought I’d re-present them here. Also, for people in Melbourne on the night of Thursday 13th April (not Wednesday 12th as previously posted here), there is a West Papua benefit concert at the Grand Central Club,293 Swan St Richmond,Corner of Swan St and Coppin St, featuring West Papuan musicians (who apart from anything, can sing magnificently). Herman Wanggai is also going to speak, but its mainly music.Tickets can be bought through

For anyone interested in the history of West Papua, there is a series of detailed articles on the Webdairy site – the latest of which is here. The history is important, as it helps us to understand the present. However, history also includes the fact Indonesian sovereignty has been recognised globally for over 35 years.

For balance, here’s a piece from The Age by Indonesia’s Consul-General putting that government’s offical position.

This post on the blog of Courier-Mail foreign editor, David Costello, gives his view on the situation. He describes the current Indonesian government as reformist and ‘basically decent’, but none the less also states “the fact is that West Papua is a great historical tragedy. It will not go away and Canberra and Jakarta will have to deal with some unpleasant truths.”

There’s two pieces from the Weekend Australian – one by Patrick Walters and one by Greg Sheridan.

This piece from the Sydney Morning Herald contains the interesting information that Australian authorities were alerted that 43 Papuan asylum seekers had left Indonesia five days before they landed at Cape York, yet failed to inform Jakarta of the development. This raises echoes for me of the SIEV X incident, and will undoubtedly add to Indonesian beliefs that Australia is engaged in double standards.


This piece in The Age by Hugh White – “Our Duty to West Papua” (with a great cartoon by John Spooner) outlines the wider political contexts very well.

For the past fortnight, Canberra has talked about Australia’s policy on West Papua in purely pragmatic terms. Its first priority has been to uphold its reputation for being tough on illegal immigration. Its second priority has been to keep relations with Indonesia in order. The welfare of the people of West Papua seems to enter the Government’s equation as a distant third, if at all.

But Howard must know that a policy that elevates pragmatism over principles cannot be sustained. After a while, pragmatism starts to look like appeasement.


Those who argue that Australia can force the pace on Papuan independence are drawing a wrong lesson from East Timor, based on an inflated view of Australia’s role in 1999. East Timor’s independence was an Indonesian decision. Australia’s role was in the end more marginal than most Australians (and many Indonesians) like to admit. …..

Those who believe they have principles on their side still have an obligation to consider the likely consequences of their proposals. There is no high moral justification for ill-informed decisions and ineffectual gestures that end up doing more harm than good.

This piece on Online Opinion by Gary Brown also outlines some of the difficulties, before concluding that the “issue is not going to go away. It will require both sense and sensitivity, and a willingness to forego some short-term advantages, from all concerned to manage it successfully.”

and from the blogosphere:

Mark Thomson from Seeking Asylum Downunder gets stuck into Labor’s stance;

Tony Harris on Club Troppo reproduces a column from the Financial Review, which includes this reminder

The United States Department of State last month published its 2005 report on human rights in Indonesia. It bluntly stated that Indonesian security forces continue to engage in extrajudicial killings in separatist areas and that the Indonesian government has “largely failed to hold soldiers and police accountable for such killings and other human right abuses in Aceh and Papua.”

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  1. ” Virginia Leong … had been trying to leave Australia. Should she and her little girl have spent more than 3 years in detention because she wanted to leave”

    Marilyn you have novel way of looking at things- you seem to believe that by simply declaring something true, makes it true!
    It’s very 1984ish … or does it derive from Harry Potter????

    The facts of the Virginia Leong case are:
    Virginia Leong was caught using a false passport .
    The administration detained her & determined to deported her back to Malaysia ( her country of origin) but for four years she fought the deportation – no doubt at Australian tax payers expense!
    ( so much for refugees really wanting to go home -but not being able to or allowed!!!!)

    During that period she had a child.
    The Refugee advocates and their fellow-travelers in the media & legal fraternity then set-up a hue & cry about how cruel & inhumane it was to keep her and her child in jail.

    Eventually ( & predictably) the administration relented, released her and her child, granting a “ bridging visa” . The media then went on to laud her and her child as Australia’s answer to Nelson Mandella.

    Quietly and out of sight she will eventually gain full citizenship.-& further, there will be no prosecution for use of a false passport.

    Reading the facts of such a case makes one feel that the people of Australia have ‘been had’.

  2. Sorry to be going back 20 comments or so, but is the statement at #183 really meant to mean that if the Jews had just all supported each other and stood up to those Nazi bullies, then Anne Frank would have survived?

    and even though I would hate to get sidetracked into Biblical debates, I thought it was the case that far from the majority failing to use their power by speaking out to protect Jesus, it was actually because of the mob majority demanding his death that he ended up copping it, even though Pontious Pilate initially wanted to spare him? (although as Geoff also pointed out, if he had spared him, we wouldn’t have our sins forgiven which was purportedly God’s intent anyway so I imagine God would have been rather peeved if his intent had been thwarted by people standing up to bullies and sparing Jesus)

    (unless it means God was really the bully and people should have stood up to Him and said He couldn’t sacrifice his Son, even if He wanted to???)

  3. Yes, Andrew. I think that is what #183 was implying. Although I couldn’t actually get a straight answer from the writer when I asked was I misinterpreting it.

  4. Andrew. Its not just that if the Jews had just all supported each other and stood up to those Nazi bullies, then Anne Frank would have survived?

    All people “adults” who believed it was wrong should have stood up together and for each other regardless.

    I am not religious and I was brought up by non practicing Catholics but my recollection of what I was taught was that the people were in the majority when Jesus was killed and they did nothing to stop it and some even succumbed to the mob mentality and encouraged it.

    Who said it was God’s intent to sacrifice Jesus to give us the power to forgive ourselves for our sins. That one doesn’t wash with me. That sounds like a story that was concocted by a devil to forgive himself for a very nasty deed.

  5. “Who said it was God’s intent to sacrifice Jesus to give us the power to forgive ourselves for our sins. That one doesn’t wash with me. That sounds like a story that was concocted by a devil to forgive himself for a very nasty deed.”

    Ah Jolanda, where’d you get that idea from?
    John 3:16 (King James Version)

    16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    You do know what Easter is about don’t you?
    What the core Christian beliefs are?

  6. Geoff, did God write that himself or was that written by man – ROLL:

    Yes I know what Easter is about, its about Easter eggs, they come out in January in anticipation.

    I dont recall God giving his son, from what I can tell his son was taken and obviously God couldn’t save him just like he cant save us.

    I dont particular want to get into an argument about religion. Religion is the one thing that kills the most people in the world, how ‘good’ can it possibly be?

  7. Ah Andrew – the perverse force even strikes you. Good to see your only human too…..and I bet you thought debates in the Senate were difficult!!!

  8. As much of this is about the West Papuans and the notion they should have gone to New Guinea I think it is time to consider Australia law as held by our very own High Court last year.

    Then consider all the many people who have been treated illegally under the notion they should have gone somewhere else.

    Martin, the Australian government smuggles people out of Australia on false documents every day of the week – why don’t we charge them?

    Virginia was trying to leave with a different passport – big deal. Is that worth over 3.5 years in detention without charge or trial until your little child starts banging her head on the walls in despair after three years in jail? The maximum time if charged for using a false passport is 18 months and I can’t think of anyone who has been charged lately except Jack Thomas and his sentence for fiddling with his own passport was just 12 months, 6 months non-parole.

    Beside all that, what did the baby Naomi do beside be born in jail? Did she forge a passport that she had to spend 3 years in jail?

    There is this terrible culture of blaming victims – I thought Jesus was supposed to die in the name of being good and decent to our fellow human beings? Not that I know much – but I do remember growing up with the notion “do unto others as you would have them do to you”.

    Now locking up a newborn because her mum did something is as ludicrous as locking up women and kids because their husband/father is a criminal or a rapist or a killer.
    WE just don’t do it.

    Perhaps Martin you have forgotten that Virginia has an Australian citizen son – which is why she refused to leave Australia once they locked her up, because she would be denied entry before she paid a bill of nearly $1 million for her own illegal detention.

    What a choice – leave your 7 year old son for as long as it takes to pay a bill for $1 million which would take the whole of her life I think, or stay here in jail where you can at least see him.

    Hmmmmm….Sounds like the wisdom of Solomon would have been required. Either that or a bit of commonsense from Australia when realising that there is no real penalty or offence connected to what the mum did.

    Now back to the Papuans, please read the above High Court case – it clearly states that the notion of should have gone to another country is rubbish and always was.

  9. Who Jolanda? Australians who went and blew up Iraq for no reason? The AWB for stealing from the Iraqi people and giving it to Saddam?

    Geoff for not understanding Australian law?

    Who is not taking responsibility? SBY for not stopping the torture and death in West Papua?

    Who the hell are you talking about not taking responsibility?

  10. Jolanda with your reasoning in your most recent posts, “it seems to me that there is this terrible culture of people not wanting to take responsbility for their actions” I can only conclude that it follows that YOU as the adult directly responsible for your children, is fully responsible for all of their woes?

    Not the perpetrators, not the people in power…just you in your position.

    With your resoning perhaps you haven’t ta

  11. Sorry Jolanda I didn’t finish my post….. I thought important to add that you could take the reasoning you have applied to the asylum seeker topic of discussion here and apply it to your own circumstances.

  12. See if I have to explain it to you Marilyn and Kaye, then there is the problem!

    I havent done anything illegal or that is unlawful or for which there is Legislation that says that I should be doing it different. On the contrary I have a duty of care to protect my children and that is exactly what I am doing and I am following policy and procedure and I am doing it all in the Country that created the problem. GET IT!

    Some people have no respect at all for the Law or for rules. It seems that if they dont agree with what the Law says or the methods it uses then they dont believe that they have to do as it says.

  13. Jolanda at no time did I suggest you were doing anything illegal or unlawful.

    Your allegations of illegal and unlawful conduct by asylum seekers in coming to Australia is baseless since there are no past, present or proposed laws in Australia, that (would) make it an offence to arrive by boat seeking protection.

  14. You see the thing is that it appears to me that because I say that people should take responsibility for their actions, then some believe that it means that I should be blamed for what is being done to my children because I complained and therefore it was as a result of my actions.

    All I did was make formal written complaints about injustices that have been and are being committed against my children to the appropriate authorities and in the Country that has committed the injustices. I am not going to another Country demanding that they look after my children and family or blaming them for what is being done to my family or for the situation that we find ourselves in.

    Funny that you don’t think asylum seekers should take responsibility or be blamed for the situation that their children find themselves in yet you say that they they haven’t done anything wrong. Why do people then automatically blame me, I also havent done anything wrong? We have a right to bring up issues and complain – this is supposed to be a free country. Why the difference?

  15. One Last comment on the Virginia Leong issue then I will let the matter rest.

    Any time Virginia spent in jail was entirely her of own choosing.SHE could have at any time returned home –SHE chose to stay.
    Any pain, was self-inflicted

    Many parents have children living in foreign countries –but other parents do not chose to use false passports to see them. And as I recall, she was not actually using the passport to enter Australia when they apprehended her- but to leave for a trip Hong Kong !

    Further, you make it sound as if on day one of her incarceration she was lumbered with a 1 million dollar debt. It wasn’t a timeline that went 1) False passport. 2) You owe us 1 Million.
    It was rather 1) False passport 2) Appeal after appeal 3) Refusal to return. 4) You owe 1 million
    And as I previously said, it will be the tax payer who will ultimately carry this cost .

    Some people have a propensity for making bad decisions.When you look at their lives you see the fruits of a chain of poor judgments.
    If they are victims they have victimized themselves –
    It is not honest, and it is ultimately not helpful to the “victim” to blame their self-inflicted woes on someone or something else.

    And as for “Do under to others as you would have do under to you” – I wonder if you may be guilty of not practicing this yourself. For while you are seemingly unable to believe that the group you so closely align-with & sympathize-with ( the refugees” ), are incapable of doing anything underhanded –you do not extend the same latitude to the individuals & institutions elected or appointed to apply common standards , only ever seeing their actions as cruel & their motives as sinister.

    Now for the “notion they should go somewhere else”:
    I do not take issue with the granting of protection to the Papuans.
    However most “refugees” that have been coming to Australia from the Middle East in recent times are far from fair dinkum. They have by-passed or traversed at least nine countries to get to Australia
    -Many of those countries shared similar cultural values to themselves
    -A number of those countries are democracies ( India,Malaysia,Indonesia)
    But they have been very selective, choosing only to come to Australia.- often waiting a long time in third countries for the right opportunity to move. They have also been well drilled on how to manipulate the media.

    In the case of the Papuans, while Indonesia may not on the surface be happy with Australia granting residence to the Papuans –since it exposes their dirty linen & dents their ego.
    Underneath they are probably happy, since it is assisting their transmigration program which will ultimately see the Papuans overwhelmed.
    And regrettably, the Papuans we do take-in , are likely to have any revolutionary tendencies leached-out of them by the Australian consumer society.

  16. and againe martin comes through with the goods thank god for the truth

    i think indonesia was glad to see them go .
    as i sead once before the ppl who came to christmas island knew their writes and demanded them as they stepped from the boat .funny how they knew how to demand what they wanted in english but didnot know how to say please or thank you.

  17. My view, for the benefit of Marilyn.

    You know today I was thinking about you Marilyn and what you keep saying and I feel the urge to respond. You say that the Law says that asylum seekers have the right to come to Australia any way that they like and seek refuge and you are right, they have that right, they can walk on water if they have the ability!. But you see once they arrive on our shores to seek refuge, there are Legislations come into play and processes that need to be dealt with.

    In Australia, for security and safety reasons, there is Legislation that says that if you come by boat then you are arriving in a manner that is regarded as unlawful. No doubt because you haven’t been processed and your papers haven’t been checked before you arrive at our shores and you could be anybody. This Legislation says that those that exercise their right and choose to come by water/boat will be detained in detention until such time as they are identified, their claims investigated and their applications processed and their status verified to ensure that they are genuine refugees.

    You might not agree with this Marilyn, that is your right, but your ongoing insistence that the law says that they can come anyway that they like and claim refuge without question or challenge is ridiculous and it is obvious that it is just your wish so as to suit your agenda. There is no doubt that there are those that think like you, but trust me the majority of Australians agree with detention for those that come to Australia in this manner and they agree because they believe in having some sort of control over who comes in via our shores. Maybe we are sensitive in that area because we are surrounded by shores but the fact still remains that the majority agrees and the majority rules.

    What the majority of Australians don’t agree with is that there are some people, who are employed to supervise, take care of and process these people, who are abusing their power and are using methods that are inhumane and unjust. That is a serious issue that has already been acknowledged and that the system is addressing at this present time.

    You should be really happy Marilyn, but instead you still whine. See if the Department of Education/Government said that they were investigating my children’s and families complaints in order to identify those in the Education system that are abusing their power and in order to effect change I would be so happy and I would immediately change my tune and support the change.

    Yet you still shoot out at everybody. You truly are doing your people more harm than good as you show them and yourself as lacking respect for other people and Countries as having very low standards in relation to crime and you show absolutely no gratitude for anything. It’s either your way or the highway. You sound like a dictator..

  18. I am gobsmacked by Amanda Vanstone’s revelation today (Australian page 22) that Alexander Downer has not been doing his job (although the Cole inquiry kinda hinted at that anyway)…it seems our Immigration Minister has conceded that marilyn shepard has been running foreign affairs and for Marilyn’s part as an Refugee Advocate, “successfully convinced many Australians and the international community that the Australian Government rarely grants protection claims.”

    My question is can I have the job and run the new “how now brown cow” citizenship testing?

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