RNZI Posted at 02:24 on 30 August, 2012 UTC
An academic at Sydney University says anti terrorist groups in Indonesia’s Papua region need to stick to their mandate and have their actions closely monitored.
Dr Jim Elmsie, from the Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies, says the special forces police group, Detachment 88, has extended its brief after being set up to counter the rise of Islamic terrorism following the Bali bombings.
He says while the group has been very effective in capturing terrorists in Indonesia, the recent fatal shooting of a Papua independence leader, Mako Tabuni, is alarming.
He says its outrageous that Australian Federal Police are involved in training groups like Detachment 88 and an independent investigation, perhaps by the United Nations, is needed.
“Any country today is potentially the victim of terrorism so you need units that are dedicated to countering that and to react when a terrorist act does occur. But that doesn’t mean that they can just spread their sort of brief, if you like, into assassinating domestic critics.”
Sydney University’s Dr Jim Elmsie.
2) Jakarta worries about Papua not about asylum-seekers
BY: DEWI FORTUNA ANWAR From: The Australian August 30, 2012 12:00AM
INDONESIA is edging back into Australia's foreign policy debate.
After a period of complacency that relations between Australia and Indonesia have never been better, there now seems to be a sense Indonesia has more to offer Australia, and that Australia is not making the most of the opportunity.
Partly this results from Australia's opposition searching for ways to differentiate itself from the government in foreign policy. Partly it stems from a realisation by both Labor and the Coalition that Indonesia must play a role in any solutions to the wave of asylum-seekers reaching Australia's outlying territories, most coming by boat from Indonesia.
And, increasingly, it derives from the growing sense among strategic thinkers, not just in Australia, that in the search for "counterweights" to the growing power of China, Indonesia cannot be ignored. With its huge population and fast-expanding economy straddling strategic choke points between the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia is not only projected to become one of the major world economies, it is also regarded as a global swing state that will have increasing influence in international affairs. Many countries are courting Jakarta with trade and strategic interests in mind.
At government level, Australia is considered to be a very close partner, but the relationship is still quite asymmetrical. Australians, particularly the media, pay more attention to happenings in Indonesia, especially negative ones, than the other way around. Except when there is high bilateral tension - over East Timor, Papua or perceived media insults to the Indonesian leadership - it is hard to think of a time when relations with Australia have become a contested issue or even a topic of discussion among Indonesian chattering elites.
At the same time there is still some wariness about Australia. Many people in Indonesia are still suspicious of Australians in general - not so much the government but elements of the Australian public that make critical comments, especially those questioning Indonesia's territorial integrity. This is a leftover of the East Timor issue.
There is still a strong belief in some Indonesian circles the separation of East Timor from Indonesia resulted partly from Australian pressures. To add to this, despite the 2006 Lombok Treaty between President Yudhoyono and then prime minister John Howard, there are continuing concerns about Papua. We know there are people in Australia who support the Free Papua Movement. When something negative happens in Papua it becomes an issue in Australia.
There is a sense in Jakarta that too much is expected of it around the ongoing issue of asylum-seekers. From the Jakarta perspective, Indonesia has naturally porous borders and a relaxed visa system to promote tourism. It is, therefore, quite easy for people from West Asia to enter as tourists or even illegally, then join the refugee underground.
The capacity of Indonesian authorities to monitor the many small ports and fishing boats, and pick out those engaged in refugee smuggling, is still limited. Corruption among officials has also made law enforcement more difficult.
For Indonesia, sustaining its economic growth in a global downturn and increasing competition is a priority to ensure political stability. After all, most of Indonesia's 240 million-plus population are young people needing gainful employment.
There is less preoccupation in Indonesia than in Australia about the possibility of a new cold war between the US and China. There is also no rush to draw the US in closer. Indeed, Indonesia believes it needs to engage China, just as it also engages the US, on its own terms. Thus the immediate reaction from Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to last November's announcement of the posting of US marines to Darwin was to express the hope that such a troop presence would not lead to increased tension or add to misunderstandings.
Within ASEAN Indonesia espouses the concept of a "dynamic equilibrium" for managing relations with the major powers.
There is also chatter among some Indonesian politicians, non-government organisations and students who see the Darwin positioning of the US marines not so much as a counterweight to Chinese influence but, rather, aimed at enhancing US leverage over Indonesia itself - even that the real target is Papua.
This reflects Indonesia's prickly sense of insecurity about its territorial integrity as well as its historical memories of US and Australian involvement in the Dutch attempt to separate Papua from the rest of the former Netherlands East Indies. The Indonesian government is paying serious attention to Papua. It is trying to accelerate its development, and with a rising level of violence everyone realises we cannot allow it to be business as usual in the handling of the region's politics.
As for the debate in Australia about neglect of Indonesia, it would be hard to find many Indonesians worried about being neglected. This is more a factor in the Canberra perspective.
The decline of Indonesian language study in Australian schools and universities has been raised during the visits of Indonesian leaders. With more Indonesians studying in Australia than vice versa, over time there will develop greater first-hand knowledge of Australia among younger educated Indonesians than is the case with knowledge about Indonesia among Australia's elite. This asymmetry in knowledge is not a good trend. Australia is not doing itself any favours by neglecting its knowledge bank on Indonesian culture and language, and its economic and social dynamics.
As ASEAN becomes more integrated, with Indonesia a key component, Jakarta will pull its weight more and more, not just in the regional arena but internationally.
Australia should have some comparative advantage in capturing Indonesia's potentials. Historically, it has put a lot of time and energy into developing the world's best corps of deep intellectual expertise about Indonesia. It should be able to leverage that expertise, not just for strategic security considerations but its own economic benefits.
The drop in interest in Indonesia, just at a time when Indonesia is rising up, is mystifying.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar is a senior adviser to the Vice-President of Indonesia. This is an edited excerpt from the latest Asialink essay. View the series free online at www.asialink.unimelb.edu.au/essays.
3) NT leads push for stronger Jakarta ties
BY: AMOS AIKMAN From: The Australian August 29, 2012 12:00AM
NEW Northern Territory leader Terry Mills will send a fulltime envoy to Jakarta and make Indonesia the destination of his first official overseas trip.
The chief minister-elect lashed the Gillard government for its "insult to our neighbour" over last year's ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia, which he said had "cost Australia dearly".
"It was making animals more important than people, not understanding what impact the denial or the disruption of food sources has on our neighbour," he told The Australian. "How threatening that is . . . how disrespectful to do that without consultation."
Mr Mills, a Bahasa Indonesia speaker, said Darwin's growing ties with Indonesia had been key in his decision to move from Perth in 1989.
But in the wake of the financial crisis and China's rise, Australia had "dropped our neighbour".
"The focus shifted and we lost the connection, and if you lose the connection you lose the understanding, so you are prone to making bad decisions," Mr Mills said.
"I want to establish Darwin as the meeting place between our two nations, so that issues like 'what does the deployment of US marines look like from our neighbour's perspective?' can be properly considered.
"I want to position the Northern Territory as the national leader in bilateral relations." He plans to enlist the help of Darwin-based architect and former Indonesian activist during the reformist era, Wahyu Dewanto.
Dr Dewanto said he and Mr Mills had travelled together to Indonesia several months ago, where they met key figures and had received a warm reception.
"They said they were happy to help us in the future," he said.
Dr Dewanto was second in charge of Indonesia's Hanuka party until about three months ago. He travels between Darwin and Jakarta regularly. In the melee following revelations last year by the ABC TV's Four Corners of acts of cruelty on Australian cattle at Indonesian abattoirs, Mr Mills said "things got all muddled up in the ideology of the Greens and the animal liberation movement".
"I think the Prime Minister just didn't understand how difficult it is for Indonesia to manage local unrest over disruptions in food supply and price rises."
The month-long ban turned food self-sufficiency from a "slogan to something of a political cause" in Indonesia, Mr Mills said.
Live imports of Australian cattle by Indonesia have not fully recovered in the wake of the lifting of the month-long ban.
Last month, The Australian revealed details of another dispute in which Jakarta had unexpectedly changed the implementation of rules governing pedigree, leading to further disruptions. Industry sources speculated at the time that the move was a form of retaliation.
Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association executive director Luke Bowen could not be reached yesterday. However, he has previously said all possible efforts should be made to improve relations with Indonesia.
Mr Mills said Darwin had natural connections with the country, being closer to it than to Canberra. He also pledged to strengthen ties with Western Australia.
Tony Abbott was a "strong supporter" of his ideas, Mr Mills said, and the federal Opposition Leader would extend talks on the new NT leader's vision on a forthcoming trip to Indonesia.
Published on Deakin Speaking (http://communities.deakin.edu.au/deakin-speaking)
4) Australia’s West Papua bind
By Damien Kingsbury
Created 29/08/2012 - 12:09pm
Submitted by Damien Kingsbury  on Wed, 29/08/2012 - 12:09pm
It seems that no matter how cordial Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is or how much it is desired to be so, perennial issues continue that call aspects of that relationship into question. Critically, the gap between how Australia official engages with Indonesia and how that engagement is more widely viewed within Australia continues to test the relationship.
This has again been illustrated with the continuing human rights problems experienced in West Papua, which have been the subject of a two-part ABC 7:30 Report story. That story highlighted the role of the Indonesian police anti-terrorist squad, Special Detachment 88 (‘Detasemen Khusus 88’, usually abbreviated as Den 88), which receives support from the Australian Federal Police.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said that official representation to the Indonesian government had been made about specific issues concerning Den 88’s activities in West Papua. But, as with foreign ministers before him, he has been caught between having to balance Australia’s often tricky relationship with its largest near neighbour with widely accepted fundamental values that inform Australian public life.
Den 88 was established in 2003 following the Bali bombing in which 88 Australians were killed. As well as Australian support, Den 88 is also supported by the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and is mostly trained by former US special forces members, under the CIA, at Megamendung, 50 kiloemtres south of Jakarta.
Part of the rationale for establishing Den 88 was that, at a time of growing Islamist terrorism in Indonesia, Indonesia’s key counter-terrorism unit, the army’s Kopassus (Special Forces) Group 5 (renamed Duty Unit 81 Counter Terrorism) had itself been deeply implicated in widespread human rights abuses and the employment of terrorist tactics. With Indonesia’s democratisation and a reduction of army control, it was regarded as more appropriate to ‘civilianise’ domestic counter-terrorism by handing it to the police.
However, Indonesia’s police, only removed from military control in 2000, has continued to have a paramilitary function. In regions such as West Papua it also continues to operate within the military chain of command. There is much evidence to implicate Den 88 in a string of serious human rights violations, including murder, torture and kidnapping.
Importantly, too, while Indonesia has undergone a process of democratisation and its conflicts elsewhere have been effectively resolved, West Papua remains quarantined from most of those changes. In this respect, the history of impunity by the army and police continues largely unaffected in West Papua.
The underlying problem has been that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono used up much political capital on the Aceh peace settlement and has since been stymied over West Papua. Military reform, and effectively reform of the police, has also stopped. Both continue to reflect many of the repressive characteristics of Indonesia’s pre-democratic period.
West Papua remains the most important source of significant ‘off-line’ income for both the army and the police, through legal business as well as ‘grey’ and illegal activities. As a result, they are both deeply reluctant to see the West Papua conflict resolved; repression and reaction in West Papua continue to serve the financial interests of the army and the police.
President Yudhoyono’s limited attempt at a political settlement in West Papua have been without any of the politically expensive concessions that were granted to help resolve the Aceh issue. West Papuan activists have, unsurprisingly, rejected such efforts as insincere.
That the West Papuan activists’ language is often couched in terms of ‘liberation’ and that the Morning Star flag continues as their primary symbol is seen as a provocation by Indonesian nationalists. This is all the justification the army, and the police, require to act in ways that would no longer be tolerated anywhere else in Indonesia.
Within Jakarta, the resource-rich West Papua is seen as a problem that does not require real efforts to fix while it continues to be hugely financially profitable to the Indonesia state. Similarly, knowing that even a reformist leader such as President Yudhoyono has little scope for movement in West Papua, Indonesia’s international friends, such as Australia and the US, continue to demure on the issue.
The problem is, however, that this diplomatically real politik position continues to be confronted by widely held competing views outside Indonesia. Until enough of Indonesia’s friends act strongly enough in concert to assist President Yudhoyono and other reformists to re-start the country’s reform process, organisations such as the US and Australian-supported Den 88 will continue to be implicated in serious human rights abuses which most Australians deeply oppose.