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Issue #1735      June 15, 2016

Barbaric occupation

Open letter to Mr Andre Siregar, Indonesian Consul to Darwin

The story about the Morning Star and Aboriginal flags mural in Darwin has recently been brought to my attention.

The Morning Star and Aboriginal flags mural in Darwin.

In the report I have read, amongst other things, you said that you respect Australia’s right to free speech and political expression, that Indonesians find the Morning Star Flag of West Papua offensive as it is a separatist one that Australians have raised issues with you about the mural and that human rights are improving in Indonesia.

In response, I would like to say that I am pleased that you respect Australia’s right to free speech and political expression even if you consider the Morning Star offensive.

However, you must also appreciate that many ordinary Australians are very concerned about the human rights situation in West Papua as they were with the situation in East Timor when it was occupied by the Indonesian Military (TNI) for a period of 24 years during which nearly a third of the population was wiped out.

Many Australians also know the history of what happened in 1965 when the CIA assisted the TNI to overthrow the Suharno government followed by the massacres of well over a million Indonesians. The Suharto dictatorship which replaced the Sukarno leadership arranged the so-called Act of Free Choice in West Papua in 1969 which was as brutal as it was fraudulent.

It went on to commit genocide and horrific human rights abuses in Aceh, East Timor, West Papua and parts of Indonesia itself. Many of the crimes committed were as serious as those committed by the Nazis during World War 2. Is it any wonder that many consider the TNI to be the largest terrorist organisation in the SE Asian and SW Pacific regions of the world?

We know that not all Indonesians are offended by the Morning Star flag. Former Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid, allowed the flag to be flown and agreed that West Papuans should be allowed to publicly use their cultural symbols. In addition, Indonesians who respect human rights and know the history of West Papua also support West Papuan symbols and independence.

The people of West Papua are Melanesians. They are not Asians. The only reason that the Indonesian government claims that West Papua is part of Indonesia is that it was also colonised by the Netherlands.

The only reason that West Papua is not an independent nation is that the US intervened in the 1960s to stop the Netherlands from giving the people their freedom because it wanted its gold and copper.

The US mining corporation Freeport-McMoRan still makes huge profits from West Papua’s gold and copper and the Indonesian government obtains massive taxes from this mining activity. In contrast, the people of West Papua receive little benefit from the theft of their resources.

The TNI occupation of the country has been barbaric and genocidal. Human rights observers estimate that during the 54 years that the TNI has been there about 500,000 people have been murdered. West Papuans have lost their lands which have been given to Javanese transmigrants with no compensation.

You claim that human rights are improving in Indonesia and yet almost every week we receive stories of TNI atrocities.

It is a positive sign that President Joko Widodo says that he wants to investigate the crimes committed by the 1965 TNI bloodbath in Indonesia and improve human rights in West Papua. To be really genuine, this process has to be supervised by a bona fide human rights organisation and not by former officers of the TNI.

The fact is that Indonesia cannot be considered to be truly democratic and respectful of human rights until it exerts more power over the TNI and prevents its barbarism against West Papuans, Indonesians and others in the region who suffer from its brutal behaviour.

In addition, Indonesia should allow the UN to conduct a referendum tin West Papua to determine the will of the people regarding their future, it should allow the International Court of Justice to put on trial all the TNI officers alleged to have committed war crimes and human rights violations and it should pay compensation to all the victims of the TNI in Indonesia, West Papua, Aceh and Timor-Leste.

If some attempts were made to bring justice to those who have suffered at the hands of the TNI and to markedly increase democratic freedoms within West Papua and Indonesia, there would be greater stability within Indonesia itself and a greater chance for peace in this region of the world.

Yours sincerely

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Information Officer
Australia East Timor Friendship Association (South Australia)
Member: Australia West Papua Association (South Australia)

Next article – Call from Indonesia – PKI party member arrested

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