Monday, December 21, 2015

1) Indonesia warns other countries to respect its sovereignty over Papua

2) Australia plans more defence exchanges with Indonesia

3) Novanto scandal not new, says Papuan church leader

1) Indonesia warns other countries to respect its sovereignty over Papua
Australian Associated Press Monday 21 December 2015 04.46 GMT

For us, Papua is [part] of the united Republic of Indonesia,’ says defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. ‘That’s the way it is.’

The Indonesian defence minister has warned other countries to respect his country’s sovereignty over the troubled region of Papua, as meetings with Australian ministers ended in mutual agreement about the strength of the bilateral relationship.
Ryamizard Ryacudu said Indonesia had “never disrupted or caused disruptions in other countries” and it expected the same of other nations regarding Papua and its long-running independence movement.
“There are countries that are getting involved in the issue of Papua. For us, Papua is [part] of the united Republic of Indonesia. The united Republic of Indonesia extends from Sabang [in Sumatra] to Papua. There is no other solution, that’s it, that’s the way it is,” Ryacudu said in Sydney on Monday.
The comments from Ryacudu, who previously served as chief of staff of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and commander of the Strategic Army Command, or Kostrad, follow reports that all international NGOs have been ordered to close offices in Papua.
Ryacudu, who previously served as chief of staff of the Indonesian army (TNI) and commander of the strategic army command, was in Sydney with foreign minister Retno Marsudi for a meeting with Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and defence minister Marise Payne.
Bishop confirmed Papua was discussed during the talks and reiterated that Australia respected Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua.
“On the issue of Papua, yes, that was part of our discussions. We had a general discussion about regional issues, about Pacific issues and Australia restated, as we have done on many occasions, publicly and privately, our unconditional support and respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty in this regard,” Bishop said.
Indonesia, which took control of Papua from the Dutch in 1963, has for a long time fought a separatist movement in the province and faced various allegations of systematic abuse of Papuans.
The Indonesian military has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, while the local population complains that much of the wealth generated in the resource-rich province flows back to Jakarta while West Papuans remain poor.
After the meetings, Bishop said relations between the nations were in very good shape. Relations with Indonesia might have been frosty following the Bali Nine executions, but Bishop said there had been 15 ministerial meetings between the countries since August.
Monday’s meeting focused on national security, including counter-terrorism, deradicalisation and intelligence-sharing, as well as economic ties, she told reporters after the meeting.
Australia and Indonesia were close neighbours and natural partners, Bishop said.
As well as security and economic ties, there were growing links in tourism and student exchange.
“We have shared and common interests across a broad and diverse range of areas,” Bishop said. “There is room for us as two G20 economies to do a great deal more together.”
Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi agreed the relationship between Jakarta and Canberra was in good shape, especially after Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Jakarta.
The touchy issue of people smuggling and Australia’s boat turnback policy was the subject of a “very frank and honest discussion”, Bishop said.
Marsudi said both nations would continue to cooperate on addressing the root causes of people smuggling.
Ryacudu said real threats facing the region included terrorism, natural disaster, disease, drug smuggling and the “hassle” of refugees.

2) Australia plans more defence exchanges with Indonesia

Australia has flagged more defence exchanges with Indonesian officers after agreeing to renew a defence co-operation agreement amid new joint efforts to crack down on a potential terrorist group in the country.
Defence Minister Marise Payne foreshadowed more personnel exchanges to boost the relationship after agreeing well ahead of time to renew and refurbish the existing agreement which expires in 2017.
But Indonesia's Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu injected some tough words into a bilateral meeting in Sydney on Monday telling Australians no change was possible to Indonesia's control of Papua and the refugee issue was not a security threat.
General Ryacudu described the asylum seeker issue, which has caused many recent bilateral tensions, as "not a threat but a bit of a hassle" when listing the important bilateral issues.

This prompted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to restate the federal government's long-standing position that its refugee policies were focused on saving lives.
General Ryacudu said defence co-operation had produced lots of positive results over 50 years and the co-operation should be extended further but Indonesia did not want its national policies to be disrupted.


He said Papua, where independence advocates draw support from some civil groups in Australia, was part of the united Indonesian republic. "There is no other solution to talk about. This is it."
Ms Bishop, Senator Payne, General Ryacudu and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi were meeting in the third combined defence and foreign ministers meeting following a substantial warming of bilateral ties in the past three months, with 15 different bilateral ministerial visits since August.
Underlining the burst of ministerial meetings, the Sydney meeting coincided with a visit to Jakarta by Attorney-General George Brandis and Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
Ms Bishop and Ms Marsudi said they had met six times this year which they suggested was more than with most other foreign ministerial counterparts. Ms Marsudi said a decision had been taken to focus on areas of co-operation rather than differences. They emphasised that they talk even more via text.
Senator Payne said the defence forces had very strong people-to-people contact and she was committed to continuing this. She said Australia had agreed to renew its defence co-operation agreement with Indonesia and planned more joint exercises in disaster and humanitarian relief. Speaking before the meeting, General Ryacudu fondly recalled his relationship with Australian senior officers forged in the countries' joint peacekeeping operations in Cambodia in the early 1990s. He met former generals John Sanderson and Peter Leahy during the visit.


"We are really determined to continue to be friends," General Ryacudu said.
He said Australia's geographic location beside Indonesia was a gift from God and could not be changed.

The defence and foreign ministers discussed rising tensions in the South China Sea over territory but General Ryacudu suggested tensions would ease with better communications among the rival claimants. Ms Bishop said Australia would continue its flyovers in the area in line with international law as it had done in the past.
Australian military co-operation with Indonesia was once controversial because of human rights by some parts of the Indonesian military but the military has now largely withdrawn from a direct role in politics and has developed a close relationship with Australia to counter terrorism.
On Sunday, Indonesian police arrested nine suspected Islamic State supporters who were allegedly preparing terror attacks later this month, possibly on New Year's Eve in Jakarta.
The arrests followed a reported tip-off from the Australian Federal Police underlining how regions appear to be back on a stable footing after a fast escalation of ministerial exchanges over the past three months.
Ms Marsudi cautioned about jumping to conclusions about the arrests but welcomed co-operation with Australia in general over counter-terrorism.

3) Novanto scandal not new, says Papuan church leader
Updated at 4:42 pm on 21 December 2015

A West Papuan church leader says Indonesian lawmakers enriching themselves at the cost of Papua resources is not new.
The comment from the chairman of the Kingmi Church, Benny Giay follows the resignation of Indonesia’s parliamentary speaker for allegedly seeking to extort a stake in lucrative mining operations in Papua.
Setya Novanto quit after exposure of a recording of secret talks related to onging negotiations between the government and miner Freeport McMoran over extension of its current contract.
Reverend Giay says despite being customary owners of the resource, Papuans are rarely considered in negotiations over the mine contract.
He says the Novanto scandal merely echoes what President Suharto used to do.
"Jakarta has not changed much: the officials, their mentality, their culture, their orientations. It's very sad that we Papuans will go through our history, in the future, with these kinds of authorities in power."

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