Friday, January 8, 2016

1) Vanuatu - standing above the rest

2) Jakarta’s change of strategy towards West Papuan separatists
3) Murderers, Rapist Stage Papua Prison Break
4) Indonesian-Australian ties,  a view from the Top-End - 

1) Vanuatu - standing above the rest
Published in 2016 January
ONE of the Pacific’s smaller island states, Vanuatu stands taller than the larger nations with its consistent, principled stand on social justice, parliamentary democracy and corruption. Where other countries have fallen short, Vanuatu has punched well above its weight, holding its leaders to account and going beyond its borders to call on foreign leaders act justly.
For more than 30 years – since independence and the leadership of Father Walter Lini – this former condominium has called for self-determination in West Papua. Its parliamentarians have marched in the streets to show Jakarta their displeasure over the failure of successive Indonesian governments to address human rights abuses carried out on Papuans by members of the security forces.
Papuan dissidents have been welcomed with open arms and the people of Vanuatu have embraced their cause in the name of Melanesian solidarity. The same cannot be said of its larger neighbours and Melanesian brothers – Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Despite having greater influence with Indonesia, Fiji and PNG have chosen to acquiesce to diplomatic overtures and turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Papua. They have taken the convenient step of labelling systematic genocide and arbitrary arrest as internal matters.

2) Jakarta’s change of strategy towards West Papuan separatists
7:29 pm GMT+12, 04/01/2016, Indonesia

By Ned Talbot 
In the middle of last month, in a surprising move by Indonesian authorities, high-profile West Papuan separatist leader Filep Karma was released after more than a decade behind bars.
Karma has been sentenced to 15 years in jail following a peaceful ceremony in West Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura, in which he raised the Morning Star flag, a symbol of the pro-independence movement. Human rights groups and representatives from the United Nations condemned his detention and designated Karma a prisoner of conscience.
The decision to release Karma four years early represents a substantive change in Jakarta’s political strategy towards the unsettled region.
Since West Papua’s transfer to Indonesia in 1969, West Papuans have been engaged in a long and bloody insurgency to establish an independent state. The Free Papua Movement grew rapidly in the late 1970s with fighters joining its ranks in all major provinces of West Papua. Small-scale hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian patrols were favored by the movement’s leaders, together with targeted attacks on Indonesian and foreign mining companies. These attacks prompted a retaliation effort by Indonesian military forces, with official estimates putting the death toll among West Papuan separatists at more than 100,000.
In an attempt to highlight the movement overseas, separatists soon adopted a more peaceful strategy of non-violence and a strong emphasis on diplomacy in lieu of an internal violent struggle. These changes had a major impact on support from human rights groups and foreign governments, and made it difficult for the Indonesian government to justify the use of force against peaceful protesters.
President Joko Widodo’s approach is starkly different from that of his predecessors. In his first move as president, Widodo lifted a 40-year ban on foreign journalists travelling to the region. He also appears to be taking a more conciliatory approach to the Free Papua Movement by seeking to regain their trust, addressing issues of inequality, underdevelopment, corruption and violence. The effort appears to be having an impact on international perceptions.
Widodo’s apparent emphasis on peacefully resolving the problem in West Papua places considerable pressure on West Papuan independence leaders, whose reliance on the violations of human rights has largely formed the basis of support for an independent state. A more conciliatory and approachable Jakarta is likely to be an effective handbrake on support for the independence campaign.
Respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty also comes amid strategic maneuvering within the South Pacific community, in which a number of Melanesian nations recently threw their support behind Indonesia’s sovereignty in West Papua at the 20th Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in June 2015.
Widodo’s peaceful strategy towards West Papua therefore appears to be an extremely effective tool in destabilizing support for the Free Papua Movement, at least in terms of foreign government and civil society support. A strong and effective independence movement will likely have to change tack if it is to continue to raise awareness and support for the political campaign.
Ned Talbot is a postgraduate university student currently completing the Juris Doctor at the University of New South Wales. He recently completed an undergraduate honors thesis in 2014 on the independence movement in West Papua. 

3) Murderers, Rapist Stage Papua Prison Break
By : Robert Isidorus | on 9:59 PM January 08, 2016
Jayapura. Police in Papua province are on the hunt for 13 inmates who broke out of Abepura Penitentiary in Jayapura on Friday, reportedly using machetes to threaten guards.
The escapees include four convicted murderers – three of whom were serving life sentences – and a rapist. The rapist and one of the murderers were scheduled to have been released this week.
The jailbreak began shortly before 11 a.m., when two of the inmates left their cell block and enter a guard station. When asked by guards to produce their visitor ID cards, they began shouting, prompting the 11 other inmates to storm the guard station wielding machetes and pipes.
The five guards on duty then duly hid beneath their desks while the inmates fled. The guards phoned for backup eight minutes later.
Police have since identified the escapees. In a strange twist, however, it was revealed that two of them – Feli Tabuni, convicted of rape, and Jefran Efrain Oagay, convicted of assault and murder – were to have been released on Friday and Saturday, respectively. It is not known why they decided to break out of jail just as they were about to be freed.
There has been no clarification from the prison about where the inmates obtained the weapons that they used to threaten the guards.
4) Indonesian-Australian ties,  a view from the Top-End - 
Andre Omer Siregar, Darwin | Opinion | Thu, January 07 2016, 4:49 PM - 
Indonesian-Australian relations have always been close, especially for those living in Darwin, Northern Territory (NT), or the Top-End as they call it. Not only is Darwin close in geographic proximity to Indonesia — being 370 kilometers to Saumlaki, Maluku, or 2.5 hours to Bali, as compared to four hours to Sydney — but it bears close historic ties since Makassar sailors traded with the Yirrkala aboriginal tribe in East Arnhem Land in the 17th century.

To retrace the close ties, the staff of the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin and I visited the Yirrkala community near Nhulunbuy, about an hour’s flight north of Darwin, to attend the Suara Indonesia Dance Group performance by Murtala and Alfina O’Sullivan from Sydney, Dedy Amijaya from Ponorogo, East Java and Rosealee Pearson from East Arnhem Land.

After receiving a traditional Yirrkala welcoming dance and witnessing indigenous children perform Indonesian dances, I was approached by a 71-year-old Yirrkala elder named Dhuwarrwarr Marlika who was also partly from Makassar in South Sulawesi. She reached out for my hand and whispered gently, “Welcome home!” This was a great surprise not only to me, but also to all guests, as she recited a message from her father about the lovely tales of friendship, dance and family between the Yirrkala and the Macassans. Her father died two decades ago. Now Dhuwarrwarr spends much time painting on bark wood, depicting several themes about the Bugis Phinisi boats and fishermen that had been part of the rich history that Australia and Indonesia possessed because of the close proximity of the two countries. Since then, much more cooperation has been established, particularly from Darwin, including in the fields of boats, beef and Bali.

With beef or the live cattle trade, most bilateral trade goes through the NT. In 2014, it provided 386,000 of the 750,000 cattle exported to Indonesia. For the past four years the Northern Australia Cattlemen’s Association, along with the Indonesian-Australian Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector, provided a nine-week cattle management training program for 54 Indonesian undergraduate pastoral students.

Through the NT government, East Kalimantan province is working on the Sapi Sawit project, a scheme to raise cattle on oil palm plantations. Just recently, four riverine buffalo were gifted for continued research. As beef demand in Asia grows, Indonesia and Australia will need to investigate how they can be stronger mutual partners in cattle cooperation.

Regarding boats, the issue of people smuggling, the trafficking in persons from the Middle East and Asia into Australia, will continue to be a challenge for both governments, as significant numbers continue to make the journey to Darwin. Criminal syndicates are too eager to target poor fishermen, especially in East Nusa Tenggara, by offering vast amounts of money for a quick trip across the seas, despite the dangers.

For tourism, many Northern Territorians choose to fly to Bali as opposed to flying down south.  These strong people-to-people relations have allowed for many exchange students from eastern Indonesia and the NT and also to better engage business communities and for the promotion of human resource development.

The re-emerging Asian region also emphasizes the important position Darwin holds, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned the importance of three cities for shipping, namely Hong Kong, Singapore and Darwin. The US “pivot” to Asia and Japan’s interest in liquid natural gas in this region also make it important for Indonesia and Australia to play a leading role in regional stability.

The NT government is playing an active role in several subregional forums including the trilateral Australia-Indonesia-Timor Leste cooperation and the recent Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area-Northern Territory network.

The recent meeting between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Jakarta brought about a promising atmosphere for new bilateral relations. A diplomacy of proximity between Indonesia and Australia could forge new ideas and cooperation for the coming years.

As Jakarta develops Indonesia’s eastern region and Canberra develops the northern part of Australia (through its new White Paper and the appointment of Federal Minister on Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg) and the keen interest of PM Turnbull then there is a real opportunity for businesses, development stakeholders and the people in this region to embrace their roles as actors in regional stability and development.

Albeit for proximity, Indonesians and Australians are very different in culture, history and perhaps outlook. But both peoples do have a strong desire to be together. As Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat stated, “God did not make Indonesia and Australia as neighbors only to argue, but as a blessing.”

The meeting of foreign ministers Retno LP Marsudi and Julie Bishop in Sydney on Dec. 21 provided an opportunity to chart a new path in bilateral relations, especially one that attends to the aspirations and hopes of both peoples.

This meeting could explore how Indonesia and Australia prepare themselves for the new Asian century. It might even chart a new course so Indonesia and Australia are not seen by the media merely as odd neighbors, but as truly genuine partners. I think this time the latter will prevail.
The writer is Indonesia’s Consul in Darwin, Northern Territory. The views expressed are his own.

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