“We recognize international law …” Every country that is a member of the United Nations recognizes international law, Bob, at least as far as it serves their purposes. It seems to me that every nation also ignores any aspect of international law that puts some aspect of their own commercial or national value at risk. Every nation has at its heart not the rest of humanity, but it’s own nationalistic ideals.
It is 1961. The Dutch protectorate of West Papua is relinquished to the United Nations as a result of the New York Agreement. Indonesia has been appointed as the new regional governor whilst the international community supposedly determines a means of allowing for the West Papuans to determine their own future, to exercise their right of self-determination. In 1969, one thousand and twenty-five men ‘vote’ unanimously to become a part of Indonesia, under the watchful, armed gaze of the Indonesian military. An unanimous vote of so many people makes me curious. If you remember this campaign advert from an Australian election campaign a few years ago, you will know that those 1,025 men were threatened by Indonesian soldiers if they did not vote for incorporation as part of the Indonesian state. You may also know the United Nations appointed monitor made no comment about the manner in which the Act of No Choice was conducted or the fact the 500,000 indigenous West Papuans were killed in the lead up to that vote. The world sold out West Papua.
“I just ask those idealistic Australians who might entertain some other arrangement, that what would be the cost in terms of our friendship with Indonesia and in terms of our budget of a different arrangement.
“It’s inconceivable, utterly inconceivable.”
Do friends allow other friends to behave badly? Do they not express dismay when they are appear rude or demeaning to another? More importantly, does a friend not offer another the hand of help when he is need?
What your comment says, quite clearly Bob Carr, is that being a friend of Indonesia is incompatible with being a friend to the West Papuans. That’s a terribly narrow minded and dare I say it, childish stance. What’s more, the attitude that the loss of friendship with Indonesia would have financial impacts says that the real reason for the friendship is motivated by money. Money buys friendship, even between nations. Money will allow our Australian leaders, our government to turn a blind eye to the torture, rape and genocide of the West Papuan people. I’d rather be branded an idealist than an uncompassionate, greedy hypocrite any day, Bob.
In this interview, taped in November 2012, (the full version of which may be viewed at the Australia Network), Bob Carr takes the opportunity to tell the audience that Indonesia brings up its human rights issues before being asked, just as they enquire about those of Australia. He’s at pains to tell the listener that the Indonesians have “been very sensitive to human rights implications of law and order activity in the Papuan provinces” and that his Indonesian counterpart raises the issue before Carr himself does. He also says that they are entitled to raise human rights concerns about Australia. I would argue that the Indonesians have no interest or need to address issues such as the human rights of Australia’s indigenous people and corruption within the Australian Capital Territory or Australian Federal Police when much of their funding comes through assistance programs that this nation provides. Blind eyes turned everywhere, means there’s no need to take an for an eye in the first place.
Amnesty International is currently running a campaign to protest about the ill treatment of seven men arrested in West Papua on 15 February, 2013. The men have reportedly been tortured and refused medical treatment as well as access to a lawyer. Two of those men, Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap, remain in custody. Ten thousand Papuans have sought refuge by crossing into Papua New Guinea. Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Muhammadiyah and deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), in conjunction with other Indonesian Islamic leaders has called for the infamous Detachment 88 (Densus 88), trained with the aid of the Australian Federal Police, to be disbanded. Detachment 88, known for its uncompromising approach to security management through the use of torture of captives, has been blamed for bringing Islam into disrepute. Detachment 88 has a fertile history of human rights abuse in West Papua.
Last weekend after the deaths of 8 police, Indonesia sent in 1000 troops to the areas surrounding Puncak Jaya, taking over villages and forcing families from their homes for the soldiers to use. Wholesale destruction of crops, stock and property was underway and the local people were fleeing. A somewhat disproportionate and less than legal response, don’t you think, Bob? Where is the Indonesian rule of law here? Those who tortured a Papuan farmer served only one year in jail. Filep Karma is serving 15 years for raising the West Papuan flag in a peaceful ceremony.
Bob Carr, you do not speak for me or for those of us who support the ethos of Blak and Black. Friends should take both criticism and support and should be able to bridge the gulf between feuding neighbours. Friends should also stick up for the underdog who is being bullied and harassed. To do anything less is to be complicit in the destruction of the human soul and in this particular case, the genocide of a culture and a people who are quite literally at our doorstep. Lombok Treaty or not, Bob Carr, show some moral fortitude for this government and make use of the UN Security Council seat Australia has just won, or hand it back because the Australian government simply does not have the guts to stand up to do the right thing for the rights of others. The West Papuans are certainly not living with any sense of security.