Indonesia Expat - - Featured - BY KERRY B. COL­LI­SON

Rock­e­feller and the Demise of Ibu Per­tiwi

It was to­wards the end of my tour at the Aus­tralian Em­bassy in Jakarta when, in 1969, West Pa­pua be­came the twenty-sixth prov­ince of In­done­sia af­ter the so- called ‘Act of Free Choice’ spon­sored by the UN saw the trans­fer of of­fi­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Nether­lands to In­done­sia.

I have found in my trav­els that few un­der­stand the his­tory of West Pa­pua, and con­cerned with the grow­ing num­ber of na­tions voic­ing their sup­port for the United Na­tions to re­visit the flawed plebiscite, I de­cided to write this story, part-fact, mostly fic­tion, in an at­tempt to of­fer an in­sight into a sce­nario that could bring Aus­tralia and In­done­sia into con­flict.

Jakarta should in­deed be con­cerned that they could even­tu­ally lose the re­source-rich ter­ri­tory – an event that could drag Aus­tralia into con­flict with its restive neigh­bour.

Over the five decades that In­done­sia has held of­fi­cial con­trol of West Pa­pua, the in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion has en­dured a re­pres­sive and un­just sys­tem of Ja­vanese­c­olo­nial oc­cu­pa­tion. Based on re­ports filed by church or­ga­ni­za­tions, mis­sion­ar­ies and West Pa­puan di­as­pora, In­done­sian se­cu­rity forces con­tinue to com­mit gross hu­man rights abuses against the in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion with es­ti­mates of civil­ians killed reach­ing half a mil­lion since oc­cu­pa­tion com­menced.

There has al­ways been a deeply-felt sense of kin­ship and com­mon her­itage amongst the Me­lane­sian Spear­head Group of na­tions to­wards West Pa­pua. Van­u­atu has al­ways been a place of refuge for West Pa­puan dis­si­dents and in­de­pen­dence ac­tivists.

In­done­sia has been aware of this sup­port within the Van­u­atu body politic for many years, and has re­cently sought to counter it. This open diplo­matic con­fronta­tion was ev­i­dence that In­done­sia’s diplo­matic of­fen­sive over West Pa­pua was well un­der­way. The Me­lane­sian Spear­head Group (MSG) came into be­ing on July 17, 1986 as a re­sult of an in­for­mal meet­ing of Heads of Gov­ern­ment of Pa­pua New Guinea, Solomon Is­lands, Van­u­atu and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Kanak So­cial­ist Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front (FLNKS). The mem­ber states are Fiji, Pa­pua New Guinea, Solomon Is­lands, Van­u­atu, the Kanak and So­cial­ist Lib­er­a­tion Front of New Caledonia.

In 2015, the United Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment for West Pa­pua (ULMWP) a coali­tion of West Pa­puan or­gan­i­sa­tions was made an ob­server of the Me­lane­sian Spear­head Group (MSG).

The ULMWP had since ap­plied for full mem­ber­ship, hop­ing it would give their move­ment greater po­lit­i­cal recog­ni­tion. This is un­likely to suc­ceed as the lead­ers of the MSG voted to make In­done­sia an as­so­ciate mem­ber, paving the way for stronger co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Jakarta and Me­lane­sian coun­tries. In­done­sia's mem­ber­ship of the MSG has giv­ing them a greater in­flu­ence in Me­lane­sian pol­i­tics than the ULMWP.

In Jan­uary 2017 the MSG com­menced dis­cus­sions to pro­vide full mem­ber­ship to the United Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment for West Pa­pua.

It is In­done­sia’s view that West Pa­pua al­ready falls un­der their (In­done­sian repub­lic) rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the MSG and strongly op­poses this con­sid­er­a­tion be­cause it re­gards West Pa­pua as an in­te­gral part of its ter­ri­tory.

Although the MSG’s core phi­los­o­phy sup­ports de­coloni­sa­tion and greater in­de­pen­dence in Me­lane­sia the po­ten­tial in­clu­sion of the ULMWP is prob­lem­atic with In­done­sia’s as­so­ciate mem­ber­ship (granted on the ba­sis of the Me­lane­sian iden­tity of five of its prov­inces).

Cur­rently, Solomon Is­lands and Van­u­atu openly favour the ULMWP’s in­clu­sion whilst Fiji and Pa­pua New Guinea re­main un­de­cided. Pa­pua New Guinea and Fiji’s hes­i­tancy can be un­der­stood as Fiji con­tin­ues to share strong trade links with In­done­sia and cur­rently re­ceives aid for the MSG’s re­gional po­lice acad­emy in Fiji. Pa­pua New Guineans sup­port West Pa­puan lib­er­a­tion. How­ever, as PNG has ex­ten­sive trade and bor­der re­la­tions with In­done­sia and would wish to main­tain these with­out any diplo­matic dis­tur­bances Port Moresby con­tin­ues to vac­il­late on the is­sue.

In September 2016 his­tory was made for West Pa­pua at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly when seven Pa­cific Is­land na­tions raised the is­sue of West Pa­puan in­de­pen­dence. These coun­tries were Nauru, Mar­shall Is­lands, Tu­valu, Van­u­atu, Solomon Is­lands, Tonga and Palau.

Ire­land, Guinea and the Nether­lands have now added their voices to the cause.

In April of this year a global pe­ti­tion for West Pa­puan self- deter­mi­na­tion was launched in Pa­pua New Guinea. This his­toric pe­ti­tion was orig­i­nally launched at the Bri­tish par­lia­ment in West­min­ster on Jan­uary 27, 2017.

The pe­ti­tion calls upon the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral to –

“ap­point a Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to in­ves­ti­gate the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in West Pa­pua; – put West Pa­pua back on the De­coloni­sa­tion Com­mit­tee agenda and en­sure their right to self- deter­mi­na­tion — de­nied to them in 1969 — is re­spected by hold­ing an In­ter­na­tion­ally Su­per­vised Vote

(in ac­cor­dance with UN Gen­eral Assem­bly Res­o­lu­tions 1514 and 1541 (XV)).”

Po­lit­i­cal sup­port in New Zealand for an in­de­pen­dent West Pa­pua also con­tin­ues to grow af­ter eleven mem­bers of Par­lia­ment from across four po­lit­i­cal par­ties signed the West­min­ster Dec­la­ra­tion in May 2017, call­ing for West Pa­pua’s right to self- deter­mi­na­tion to be legally recog­nised through an in­dige­nous Pa­puan vote.

On Oc­to­ber 19, 2011 five thou­sand aca­demics, politi­cians, church lead­ers, and se­nior tribal lead­ers es­tab­lished the Fed­eral Repub­lic of West Pa­pua (FRWP) dur­ing the 3rd Pa­pua Congress. They de­ter­mined its ob­jec­tives, and elected a pres­i­dent and a prime min­is­ter. The In­done­sian gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately charged the Pres­i­dent, Prime Min­is­ter and or­ga­niz­ers of the Congress, with sub­ver­sion, and they were all in­car­cer­ated.

ASEAN mem­ber states re­main re­luc­tant in ac­knowl­edg­ing the grow­ing pos­si­bil­ity that In­done­sia may be chal­lenged with los­ing yet an­other of its prov­inces fol­low­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Habi­bie’s mis­step that pre­cip­i­tated East Ti­mor’s gain­ing in­de­pen­dence from its Ja­vanese, colo­nial masters.

In­done­sia con­tin­ues to pres­sure 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 if Can­berra fails to adopt a stronger pub­lic de­fence of ­In­done­sia’s po­si­tion.

Although all Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments since 1962 have sup­ported In­done­sian sovereignty over West Pa­pua, the grow­ing in­ter­na­tional sup­port for in­de­pen­dence is highly likely to con­tinue to neg­a­tively im­pact upon Aus­trali­aIn­done­sia re­la­tions in the fu­ture, re­call­ing Aus­tralia’s sup­port for East Ti­mor’s in­de­pen­dence from In­done­sia in 1999. Jakarta be­lieves that Aus­tralia will even­tu­ally sup­port West Pa­puan in­de­pen­dence or has strate­gic de­signs on the prov­ince.

We can be cer­tain that Jakarta would not read­ily sur­ren­der West Pa­pua as it did East Ti­mor. Pa­pua New Guinea could also be­come vic­tim to any con­flict aris­ing from a ter­ri­to­rial fight and that would cer­tainly in­voke ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments be­tween PNG and Aus­tralia re­quir­ing boots on the ground to pro­tect its bor­ders.

Kerry B. Col­li­son’s lat­est book Rock­e­feller and the Demise of Ibu Per­tiwi will soon be avail­able in hard copy print on de­mand, and up­loaded world­wide as an eBook.

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