Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1) Jakarta pressures Julie Bishop on Papua

2) Respect for Human Rights is a UN Principle



1) Jakarta pressures Julie Bishop on Papua


The Australian12:00AM November 2, 2016

Indonesia has asked Australia to caution its Pacific Island neighbours against interfering in the West Papua issue and to urge them to withdraw support for West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, warning that the issue could pose a “stumbling block” to closer ­bilateral ties.
Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told The Australian yesterday he made the request to Australia’s defence and foreign ministers during their annual meeting in Bali last week and “the response has been good. It is unlikely they will refuse”.
“I have told Australia ... we should maintain our close relationship and not let issues like this be a stumbling block to our relationship,” he said.
At Friday’s ministerial meeting, Australia and Indonesia also agreed to consider joint patrols of areas of the contested South China Sea and pirate-infested Sulu Sea between Indonesia and The Philippines. That will likely be discussed further when Indonesian President Joko Widodo makes his first official state visit to Australia on Sunday.
General Ryamizard’s decision to publicly raise the West Papua issue appears designed to pressure Canberra into adopting a stronger public defence of ­Indonesia’s position.
The bid for West Papuan membership of MSG, likely to be decided by year-end, has become a rallying point for the Free West Papua movement, which argues that the territory’s UN-supervised vote to stay with Indonesia in 1968 was secured by cheating and military intimidation.
Indonesia is an MSG associate but is lobbying hard against Papuan admission since the United Liberation Movement of West Papua gained observer status last year.
The group’s chairman, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, champions West Papuan representation. He was one of seven Pacific leaders to speak out against human rights abuses in the Papua provinces and to support self-determination at last month’s UN General Assembly.
After the ministerial meeting on Friday, General Ryamizard said: “I have told Australia we never interfere with the internal affairs of any other country and we will strongly object if other countries do so to us.
“So please tell Solomon Island and those six nations (from the MSG) never to interfere or encourage West Papua to join them.
“Those countries better keep their mouths shut and mind their own business. It is better that (Australia) speaks to them ­gently. If it was left up to me, I would twist their ears.”
John Blaxland, of ANU”s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said Canberra would have little choice but to speak to the Solomons (which gets $162 million Australian aid this year) and “remind them of which side their bread is buttered”.
However, the Indonesian minister’s public statements were “extremely unhelpful” because they brought the issue into the open, which was wanted only by pro-independence activists. Dr Blaxland, said it was “completely toxic for Australia”.
“The restoration of the bilateral security relationship is predicated on us being supportive over West Papua and the Indonesians are acutely sensitive to Australia’s role in that.
“We can’t afford for West Papua to sour relations between Australia and Indonesia when there are so many other issues on the agenda dependant on us maintaining an even keel in that relationship,” he added.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday confirmed West Papua was discussed at last week’s meeting but would not say whether Australia would pass on Indonesia’s message to Pacific Island nations.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 9:47 AM

2) Respect for Human Rights is a UN Principle

News that the Indonesian government is upping the ante against supporters of West Papua comes as no surprise, a well-placed senior government source said.

“It is no surprise to us, and I think it is not right to say that we are interfering with the internal affairs of Indonesia, we are simply raising an issue of concern regarding our Melanesian brothers of West Papua.
“We are all members of the United Nations, and the respect for Human Rights is one of the key cornerstones of the Charter,” he says.
“That is what we are asking from the UN, to send an independent assessment team to find out the facts on the ground and to report back to the members.”
He says that it is not an unreasonable request, nor is it unprecedented, it is a process established by the UN, and one that Solomon Islands and other Pacific countries are calling on the UN to use.
He says that the membership of West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is an issue for the MSG alone to decide.

“This is no different from the membership of New Caledonia's FLNKS, no different, and in fact this is in line with the establishment of the MSG.”
He says that France may not have been supportive of the idea for the FLNKS to join the MSG, “but perhaps they recognized the importance of allowing the FLNKS to raise issues of concern in a proper forum.”
“We have historical and cultural ties to the West Papuan people, so we cannot stand idly by when allegations of human rights abuses are raised time and again.
“So we will use whichever fora we deem appropriate to raise such issues, not to interfere but to remind ourselves of our obligations to certain universal principles and values.”
The Defence Minister of Indonesia has urged the Australian government to rebuke Pacific states, in particular Solomon Islands, for raising Papua in global fora.
A Research Fellow at the Australian National University's State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Stewart Firth, told Radio New Zealand that “Jakarta has misinterpreted Australia's relationship with Pacific countries.”
"These are sovereign states. And in particular in the case of Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands has a right to do that [speak out about West Papua] as a sovereign country, and Australia's not in a very good position to tell them differently,” Dr Firth said.

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