Members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) appear in front of media in the jungles of Indonesia’s Papua province on July 25, 2009. (AFP Photo / Banjir Ambarita)
Activists slammed the Indonesian government for weak statesmanship after a Papuan separatist group opened an office in Oxford, England.
“The fact that the government could not act more decisively against an individual diplomatic effort by a person like Benny Wenda shows how weak our diplomacy is,” Girindra Sanino, the secretary general of the Indonesian Citizenship Union (SAKTI), said on Saturday, referring to the Papuan exile who founded the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
Benny established an OPM office in Oxford on April 23, and the opening ceremony was reportedly attended by Oxford’s mayor and a member of parliament.
Girindra also criticized the British government for allowing Benny to set up such an office.
“By letting representatives of the OPM to open an office in the United Kingdom, the British have violated Indonesian sovereignty. The government should send a complaint to Britain immediately,” he said.
Girindra suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should change its soft diplomacy and strictly respond to any international support for the separatist movement. He added that such lax handling of situations like this are why separatist groups still exist in Indonesia.
At the same time, he said, the Indonesian government must accelerate welfare programs and infrastructure development for people in Papua to thwart separatism.
Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said in a text message that the British government and the opposition did not support the OPM’s decision to open an office in Oxford.
“The British government still formally recognizes the supremacy of the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] over Papua,” he said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will summon the British ambassador to Indonesia, and the Indonesian Embassy in London will also arrange for a meeting with the British Foreign Affairs Ministry …” he added.
Food on display at TEDx Sydney. Photo: James Alcock
Julian Assange could still be languishing in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in six months, his lawyer says.
Speaking ahead of the TEDx conference, human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson said she last saw the WikiLeaks founder before flying to Australia last week.
It will be chaos in the future.
''He is coping as well as anyone can be expected to cope when they have been confined effectively to a room with no natural light for almost a year,'' she said.
The Opera House was packed for the line-up of academic and activist speakers. The audience gave a standing ovation when Ms Robinson introduced West Papuan exiled independence leader Benny Wenda wearing national costume, including headdress.
He was jailed and tortured for campaigning for freedom from Indonesian occupation. He now lives in exile in Britain.
Ms Robinson said: ''We need more public support to make it harder for government to maintain its current position, which is one of full support for Indonesian sovereignty and completely ignoring ongoing human rights abuse.''
Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua advocacy group.Photo: James Alcock
Mr Wenda said: ''With your [Australia's] support, I will go back a free man. With your support, my people will be free.''The line-up of TEDx speakers included space archaeologist Alice Gorman, arguing for a reduction in the proliferation of space junk orbiting the planet.
Another speaker was Damien Mander, an environmental activist involved with the use of drones built in Melbourne to counter poaching of rhinos in Africa.
The O'Farrell government came under attack from Lisa Murray, city historian at the City of Sydney council.
She used the stage to reveal that funding for the archiving of digital records of government business including health, planning decisions, land release and public consultations runs out next month.
She said without $1 million in funding ''the archives in our state are under imminent threat''.''It will be chaos in the future. I despair for my job in 20 years trying to access records,'' Dr Murray said.
The diverse event was to be wound up by barrister Justine Rogers, who combines the skills of stand-up comedian with lecturing at the law faculty of UNSW.
Ms Rogers started ''nerd nites'' in Sydney - short academic lectures in licensed premises, otherwise described as ''the Discovery Channel - with beer''.
She planned to give something of a parody of the skills needed to be the perfect TEDx speaker, suggesting the elements needed to give a great talk include starting with a memory from your childhood, which may or may not have any bearing on what you are going to talk about. Complex diagrams, props such as a candle or a picture of a glacier, desert or galaxy are also must-haves, she said.
''The ending is that the joke is on me because my talk is so rubbish. I am saying you can't just do these conventions, you have to have something substantial to say and the talk has to come after a lifetime of courage and commitment.''