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 www.moshtix.com.au
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.”
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.”