Friday, September 21, 2012

1) All the ingredients for genocide: is West Papua the next East Timor?

1) All the ingredients for genocide: is West Papua the next East Timor?

2) New Papua Police Chief Vows to Touch the Hearts of Papuans
3) US to Sell Indonesia 8 Apache Helicopters

4) In Geneva, Indonesia promises more action on human rights

21 September 2012, 2.28pm AEST
1) All the ingredients for genocide: is West Papua the next East Timor?

 West Papuan activists protesting at the Hague for independence of the Indonesian-held province. Apdency/Wikimedia Commons

Allegations that Australia is funding death squads in West Papua have brought the troubled province back to Australian attention.
Blanket denials by both Indonesian and Australian governments – standard policy for such reports in the past, no longer cut the mustard.
The players respond
The killing of Papuan activist Mako Tabuni by Indonesian police was for Jakarta a legitimate operation against a violent criminal shot while evading arrest. That Tabuni bled to death from his untreated wounds while in police custody did not rate a mention.
The Australian response was more measured. Foreign Minister Bob Carr took the allegation that Tabuni had been assassinated seriously because the partially Australian funded and trained elite anti-terrorist organisation, Densus 88, was accused of playing a role in the killing.

Bob Carr raised the issue of human rights with foreign minister Marty Natalegawa in June this year in his first official visit to Indonesia EPA/Adi Weda

For once there was a direct Australian connection to the human rights abuses that have been happening in West Papua for decades. Australian taxpayers may indeed be helping to fund Indonesian death squads. Carr called on the Indonesians to make a full enquiryinto the affair.
The Indonesian response was to appoint Brigadier General Tito Karnavian as Papua’s new Police Chief. This sends the clearest possible message that Jakarta intends to deal with the Papuan separatists’ insurgency with lethal force, rather than diplomacy and negotiation.
Many activists have been arrested and a concerted effort is underway to break the back of the urban based, non-violent Papuan rights organisations, such as Tabuni’s KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat).
Most Papuans would favour independence over Indonesian occupation. This is a recipe for ongoing military operations, repression and human rights abuse as the Indonesian military and police hunt down “separatists”.
This seems to suit most players. West Papua is the Indonesian military’s last zone of exclusive control after the loss of Aceh and East Timor. It’s a fabulous prize to control as extensive (legal and illegal) logging, huge mining projects and massive development funds provide rich pickings for those in control, while incoming migrants are drawn in by economic opportunities unavailable elsewhere. It is really only the Papuans who are suffering in this massive free-for-all.
The plight of the Papuans is slowly but surely seeping into the global consciousness. While modern technology allows West Papua’s riches to now be exploited, it also allows the stories and images of Papuan suffering to emerge. Increased Indonesian militarisation and repression only exacerbate this trend.
A new East Timor?
This is the same trajectory that East Timor’s long struggle for freedom followed: an overwhelmingly dominant military on the ground but a growing sense of outrage within the international community, especially in the Western nations. This led Indonesia to be treated almost as a pariah nation and underpinned East Timor’s rapid shift to independence in the wake of Suharto’s fall.
While no other nation supports West Papuan independence, except Vanuatu sporadically, and the rule of the Indonesian state appears unassailable, a dangerous dynamic is developing.
As the situation in West Papua deteriorates, human rights abuses will continue, with the very real prospect of a dramatic increase in violence to genocidal levels.
The ingredients are there: stark racial, religious and ideological differences coalescing around a desire for Papuan resources and Papuans’ land, on one hand, and independence on the other. Indeed many Indonesians, as well as the Indonesian state, already view Papuan separatists as traitors.
This should rightly concern Australians: we are in a quasi-military alliance with Indonesia through the 2006 Lombok Treaty. We are a player, albeit minor, in these events. When there is a divide in the opinion of the political, military and bureaucratic elite, and that of the wider population, as occurred in Australia over Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, the majority view tends to eventually prevail. And the majority view, formed by such programmes as the ABC 7.30 report, is moving to one of sympathy for the Papuans and antipathy towards Indonesia for what many see as a re-run of East Timor’s disastrous occupation. This does not bode well for relations between the two countries.
Words or bullets?
Indonesia runs the risk of having its widely heralded democratisation process stained by the Papuan conflict. There is also the fact that while West Papua remains a military zone the Indonesian army will continue to be unaccountable and largely outside of civilian control, stymieing anti-corruption efforts not just in Papua but through out the country. The consequences for the Papuans are abundantly clear: no basic rights and a life lived in fear.
While there are no quick or easy solutions to this conundrum, one choice is manifestly clear: does the answer lie in more words or more bullets?
Jakarta has so far rejected meaningful dialogue in favour of a beefed up security approach. Australia, and Australians, should forcefully criticise this as being against our own, and Indonesia’s (let alone the Papuans’) long-term interests.
If the West Papuan conflict continues to follow the East Timor trajectory this problem will continue to grow, relations will become strained and tensions rise. It’s worth remembering that Australia and Indonesia very nearly came to blows over East Timor. Let’s learn from the past and encourage, and promote, meaningful dialogue between all parties.

2) New Papua Police Chief Vows to Touch the Hearts of Papuans
Farouk Arnaz | September 21, 2012
Papua’s new police chief vowed to take a grassroots approach to stopping the violence that has plagued this restive province during his swearing in ceremony on Friday. 

“I will approach the Papuan society at the grassroots level,” Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian said. “This is a matter of hearts that we have to touch. I don’t think my background will be a problem because when we talk of matters of the heart, we no longer differentiate between ethnicity, religion or race.”

The Palembang, South Sumatra, native was formerly the head of Indonesia's anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 from 2004 to 2011. He was then appointed as deputy chief of the recently formed National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT). 

Tito, 47, holds a masters degree in strategic studies and a certificate in terrorism studies from the Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

He replaced outgoing chief Insp. General Bigman Lumban Tobing in a ceremony at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Friday. 

Bigman attracted the attention of critics after a series of high-profile shootings grabbed national headlines. Critics say that Papua had gotten increasingly violent under Bigman's watch. 

Tito told the crowd that the region’s violence can be curbed through enforcement. 

He declined to detail the department’s plan for addressing a recent spate of violent attacks near Freeport MacMoRan’s Grasberg mine. 

“Give me time. This needs to be evaluated,” Tito said.

Gunmen have opened fire on Indonesian Military (TNI) and Freeport security vehicles twice in recent weeks. 

Indonesia has been fighting against a low-scale insurgency waged by armed pro-independence groups like the Free Papua Movement (OPM) since the resource-rich province was annexed in a 1963 vote that critics say was rigged. 

The OPM and pro-independence groups have alleged that the central government has siphoned off the region’s riches and committed numerous human rights violations against ethnic Papuans.

3) US to Sell Indonesia 8 Apache Helicopters

September 21, 2012

Washington. The United States said on Thursday it will sell Indonesia eight AH-64/D Apache helicopters to strengthen security ties with the largest country in Southeast Asia and the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking during a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Washington, said Congress had been notified of the intent to sell the aircraft. 

“This agreement will strengthen our comprehensive partnership and help enhance security across the region,” Clinton said. 

President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to buttress defense ties with Indonesia as it refocuses its attention toward the Asia-Pacific following long years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The United States has stepped up military cooperation with traditional allies such as the Philippines and Australia, and joined regional efforts to press China to accept a multilateral framework for solving flaring territorial disputes in the South China Sea. 

Clinton did not reveal an estimated cost for the Apache deal, which Indonesian media have reported has been in the works for months. The attack helicopters, used by militaries around the world, are made by Boeing.   

The United States last year announced it was giving Indonesia two dozen second-hand F-16 fighter planes, with Jakarta covering the estimated $750 million needed to refurbish the late-model fighters and overhaul their engines.   

US officials say the delivery of US hardware will improve cooperation and information-sharing between the US and Indonesian militaries as they face common security threats. 

The announcement of the helicopter sale came as Clinton and Natalegawa wound up the third regular US-Indonesia joint commission meeting, with both saying that ties between the two countries had grown stronger. 

Clinton, who visited Indonesia this month as part of an Asia-Pacific tour, said trade topped $26 billion last year and that the United States would invest $600 million over the next five years in Indonesian clean energy development, child health and nutrition programs and government transparency initiatives under its Millennium Challenge aid program. 

Indonesia has been among the nations hit by violent anti-American protests over the past week to protest against a US-made video seen as critical of Islam. 

Clinton said that the United States had decided to temporarily close its diplomatic facilities in the country on Friday in case further protests erupt. But she praised Jakarta for its response to the crisis. 

“We are very grateful for not only the cooperation and the protection that has been provided to our facilities, but also for the strong statements condemning violence,” Clinton said. 


4) In Geneva, Indonesia promises more action on human rights
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, September 21 2012, 9:46 AM

Gone too soon: Children observe the portraits of victims of human rights abuses on display by activists who staged their weekly silent protest across from the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Thursday. It was their 274th protest aimed at pressuring the government to reconcile various human rights abuses. (Antara/Fanny Octavianus)
Following its move to reject some recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Indonesian government made a face-saving gesture by offering to set up a long-awaited truth and reconciliation commission.

Speaking at the UNHRC’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland late on Wednesday, Representative of Indonesian Permanent Mission to Geneva Edi Yusuf said that the government was working to finalize the bill on a truth and reconciliation commission.

“This bill is designed to strengthen our national legal framework in dealing with past human rights abuses,” Edi said.

In its response to the UNHRC, the Indonesian government also offered to set up a so-called “human rights-friendly district” and establish human rights guidelines for local administration ordinances.

“Other legal frameworks are in the pipeline. First, we are finalizing a ministerial decree at Law and Human Rights Ministry on the introduction human rights-friendly districts. The other is a joint ministerial decree between the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Home Ministry on establishing human rights parameters in the formulations of bylaws,” he said.

None of the three proposals directly addressed the UNHRC’s 30-point recommendation issued following its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May.

The government decided to reject a recommendation from the rights body that urged Indonesia to repeal laws and regulations that curtailed religious freedom.

The UNHRC requested that Indonesia amend or revoke laws and regulations that banned religious freedom, including the 1965 Blasphemy Law, the 1969 and 2006 ministerial decrees on the construction of places of worship and the 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah.

In addition to rejecting recommendations on religious rights, the government also stated in its report to the UNHRC that it was unable to allow foreign journalists free access to Papua and West Papua, as proposed by the French delegation during the May meeting.

The Indonesian government also refused to allow the United Nations special rapporteurs on indigenous people and minority groups to enter the country. The Foreign Ministry said the government had abided by the Constitution when drafting its response to the recommendations.

Earlier in his presentation, Edi said that the Indonesian government decided to reject the 30-point recommendation based on considerations that the actions it contained were mostly irrelevant to conditions on the ground.

“Some of the recommendations are also subject to further national debates for possible inclusion in the next human rights action plan,” Edi said.

The government’s refusal to adopt the 30 key recommendations has raised criticisms at home, with rights groups blasting the government for engaging in an unnecessary publicity campaign abroad while continuing to undermine human rights protection at home.

“We don’t need more regulations to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, but at the same time we also have law and regulations that have continued to be used as legal foundations to abuse the rights of the people,” Poengky Indarti of watchdog group Imparsial told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Poengky, however, applauded the plan for the truth and reconciliation commission, saying that it could bring justice to perpetrators of past human rights abuses, so long as its founding legislation did not provide amnesty for perpetrators of past violations.


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