Thursday, May 29, 2014

1) SBY visit to Fiji seen through West Papua prism

1) SBY visit to Fiji seen through West Papua prism
2) For the freedom of our brothers and sisters

3) A 'fortress Australia' approach won't help relations with Indonesia

1) SBY visit to Fiji seen through West Papua prism

Updated 13 minutes ago

An academic specialising in Indonesian politics and history says the President's planned visit to Fiji next month can be seen through what he calls the West Papua prism.
Fiji has announced that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will visit Fiji next month for the second annual Pacific Islands Development Forum meeting in Nadi.
Dr Richard Chauvel of Melbourne's Victoria University says Indonesia is keen to forge closer ties with Pacific countries.
However he says Jakarta has stepped up its lobbying in the region since the Melanesian Spearhead Group began considering a membership application by West Papuans.
"The way the (MSG) Foreign Ministers visit (to West Papua) was hosted; you'll remember (PNG Prime Minister) O'Neill was in Jakarta when the MSG meeting was held. But clearly it has longer term strategic ambitions beyond its difficulties in West Papua."
Dr Richard Chauvel of Melbourne's Victoria University.

2) For the freedom of our brothers and sisters
Padre James Bhagwan Thursday, May 29, 2014
Last Wednesday, a day before the United Nations Committee of 24 met in Nadi, to discuss — among other issues — the reinscription of Maohi Nui (French Polynesia) on the list of territories for decolonisation, the Pacific Conference of Churches again called on regional governments to support the decolonisation of West Papua, Guam and Rapa Nui.
The theme of this regional seminar of the Committee of 24 is to accelerate action on the implementation of the 3rd International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
The Pacific is represented on the C24 by Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
"We recognise that this might be a difficult position for some governments to take but the Pacific people must be treated with justice," said PCC Desk Officer Peter Emberson.
The PCC statement read, "For the freedom of our brothers and sisters in Guam, Kanaky/New Caledonia, Maohi Nui/French Polynesia, Tokelau, West Papua to chart their own political future, we call on our Pacific peoples in all walks of life to stand up, speak out and be actively be engaged in their struggle."
"The right of peoples in non-self-governing-territories, whose countries are ruled by colonial administrations, to determine their own political future is enshrined in international law.
"Similarly, the duty of the colonisers or administering powers to prepare the indigenous peoples in these territories to exercise their right to self-determination is also mandated by international law รข€¦ underpinning the legal instruments and administrative protocols established to ensure and safeguard freedom is a grave moral responsibility.
"Lest we forget, many of us who now live and have our being in independent Pacific countries were once, not too long ago, also governed under colonial rule.
"Our freedom was purchased by the commitment, very often the sacrifice, of entire generations of our forebears and at great cost."
The support of the struggle for the self-determination of Maohi-Nui, Kanaky, Guam, Tokelau and Tanah Papua is on the PCC member churches' radar, following the 2013 PCC General Assembly in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
In Fiji the Executive Committee of the Fiji Council of Churches last year resolved to support the churches and people of West Papua in their struggle for self-determination.
"We continue to receive reports of torture, violence and atrocities against the people of West Papua and these actions by Indonesia must stop," said Mr Emberson at a media conference where the statement from PCC was issued.
I have shared the story of West or Tanah Papua before — its colonisation by the Dutch, a brief moment of independence in 1961, the invasion by Indonesia and the United Nations two grave sins — allowing the transfer of control of West Papua to Indonesia in 1962, albeit with an agreement of future self-determination; and endorsing the manipulated plebiscite "Act of Free Choice" in 1969, where, "instead of overseeing a free and fair election, the UN stood by while Indonesia rigged the vote.
Declaring that the Papuans were too "primitive" to cope with democracy, the Indonesian military hand-picked just 1026 "epresentative" Papuans, out of a population of one million, who were then bribed and threatened to kill them and their families if they voted the wrong way.
So strong was the intimidation that despite widespread opposition to Indonesian rule, all 1026 voted to remain a part of Indonesia.
With the advent of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) politicians and lawyers are beginning to engage with the issue.
Through the PCC, churches in the Pacific and by extension their members will also begin to learn and engage with the case of West/Tanah Papua and other self-determination struggles.
The issue of Tanah or West Papua weighed heavily on my soul in my recent visit to Indonesia.
I was profoundly affected by the stories, which I had heard from West Papuans, and videos and pictures of human rights abuses by Indonesian forces based in Tanah Papua, which I had seen online.
The response I received from a member of one particular Indonesian NGO when asked about Papua was that it was very large and rural, so working there was difficult.
I was concerned by inferences that the challenge was because the people of Tanah Papua and indeed much of eastern Indonesia, including Sulawesi, West Kalimantan and Maluku are "primitive".
Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, those are the Old Javanese words written on the foot of the Garuda Pancasila, Republic of Indonesia's national symbol, which mean "Unity in Diversity." However, this is not necessarily the case. I was to learn that there is a level of prejudice towards eastern Indonesia as it is also the least developed part of the country, thus people native to that area are viewed as primitive.
Ironically it is eastern Indonesia which provides much of the natural resources for Indonesia's economic growth, while the western part receives the profits and development.
A 2001 report by Minority Rights Group International, states that the extreme development gap between the island of Java and most of the outer regions, the effect of the government's policy of transmigrasi or forced migration, and its political manipulation of religion have been strategies by the powerful to their commercial interests in these areas, even if it has meant prolonging conflicts.
Self-determination for West/Tanah Papua in this wider context is therefore not just political empowerment but also socio-economic empowerment.
As I spoke with other Indonesian NGOs, community workers and activists who were more aware of this context and great divide between west and east, I became more aware of the preconditions for self-determination in West/Tanah Papua.
The lack of access to quality education — most children only attend school until they are 10 years old, according to one source, health-care and infrastructure adds to the already documented human rights abuses by the Indonesian military.
It is a stark illustration of the MRGI report, quoted above. By keeping the people of West/Tanah Papua poor and disempowered, unable to become a cohesive movement for self-determination due to poor communications technology and vast distances, the status quo remains and the people of West/Tanah Papua will always be at a disadvantage should any negotiations eventuate.
So how can the playing field be levelled?
Donor agencies need to channel funds to education, healthcare and infrastructure development.
Churches need to not only resound the call for self-determination but get involved through education, health-care and communications mission work. These were an important part of our growth towards our own self-determination.
We must also challenge our leaders, as constituents on a national level, or within our faith communities and social groups to step up to the challenge of advocating for self-determination in its fullest sense to be embraced.
After-all, if we were in the same situation, would we want any less?
"Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity."
* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper.
3) A 'fortress Australia' approach won't help relations with Indonesia
Hamish McDonald
Periodic frictions with our closest neighbour would once have dissipated, but our historically benign image has been tempered in recent decades. Rebuilding links will be crucial

Zinc, aluminium, bronze, copper and steel. These are said to reflect Australia's national identity, if you read the blurb about the new $230m Australian embassy complex now rising on a large site in Jakarta.
Its offices, residences and recreation facilities will be clad in one or other of these metals, which also reflect another aspect of Australia’s profile in Indonesia: the new embassy is designed to be as impervious to terrorist attacks as possible – a car-bombing at the existing building caused carnage at its gates in 2004.
A side effect of the "fortress Australia" approach, though, is that virtually all Australian staff at the embassy from ambassador down will live in the complex, in a gated Australian community, a far cry from the days when diplomats were scattered in bungalows and apartments around town.
For two of the most different societies ever to find themselves geographic neighbours, Indonesia and Australia have been surprisingly warm towards one another. Periodic frictions ever since the republic was declared in 1945, only 44 years after the brash new federation came into being, have rarely deterred close relations.
Tony Abbott and Julia Bishop are the latest in a long line of Australian politicians to declare the relationship has been neglected and underdeveloped. Behind them is the usual crowd of pundits warning, as many have before, that Indonesia needs us much less than we need Indonesia: heading towards 300m-plus in population, its economy growing like topsy into the world’s seventh largest in 15 years, centre of Washington’s new attention to Southeast Asia, it will have many suitors.
Yet both the politicians and the pundits feel obliged to put a transactional value on the relationship: the growing middle class and its appetite for our beef, financial services, university degrees and holidays; assistance in countering refugee flows and terrorists; buffering Chinese power.
Where is the warmth? Only rarely do we get a voice like that of economist Ross Garnaut, who points out that with a friendly Indonesia, Australia will never be isolated from Asia.
Beneath the president and prime minister, and their foreign ministers, is a toxic layer of domestic-model politicians in both countries, ready to make the most of any sign of distrust or deception. Even that top-level wisdom has been strained by the Edward Snowden revelation that the Australian signals directorate tapped the mobile phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife, and senior ministers.
In earlier times, tension would dissipate, because of Australia’s benign image, the early support for Indonesia’s independence in influential sections of the Australian community, the embrace of Indonesian language study in our schools, some pioneer mining and other businesses, and the 20m-strong audience for Radio Australia.
That historical narrative has been tempered by the East Timor and West Papua experiences, Indonesian language study has dwindled close to extinction and shortwave radio has been displaced by wi-fi. As for business, Indonesia has made itself a perilous investment zone, inhabited by nationalist ministries and corruptible police and judges.
To give them credit, Abbott and Bishop are opening new pathways into Indonesia. One is the new Colombo plan, which will place some bright Australian students in Indonesian universities. Another is a new national centre for Indonesian studies at Monash university.
Yet they are also choking off or narrowing others. The closure of the ABC’s Australia Network ended a nascent effort to replace Radio Australia as a window into Indonesian households − to portray Australia as a place to study, park savings, take a peaceful holiday, or pick up ideas.
The scrapping of AusAid as a separate organisation, folding its activities back into the department of foreign affairs and trade, killed a well-known brand name – not least in its main area of activity, where its aid projects like support for village schools stood somewhat separate from hard national interest.
Over the years I have taken part in many Australia-Indonesia forums, where the elite-level participants on the Australian side generally end up asking why others − businessmen, students, tourists − aren't as excited by Indonesia as they are.
There are some things that could make Australians sit up − a touring exhibition of Indonesia’s marvellous modern art would be one − but it will probably take a major strategic decision by Australia’s political leaders.
Indonesian should be the language taught by all our primary schools. If students and their parents want to add other languages, studying one generally helps with another. It helps that Indonesian is structurally simple, easily pronounced, written phonetically in Roman script, and usable at almost any level. Use of Skype conversation and student exchanges make it a live, fun experience for the young, as seen in schools like Leongatha in Victoria’s dairy country.
We should make this decision not because it will help win export deals or get high-paying jobs, though maybe it will for some people, but because of strategic choice: this is where we live and these are the neighbours we need to understand.

 Hamish McDonald’s new book Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century is out now

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