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West Papua independence bid continues decades after 1969 UN backing

January 13, 2017


http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/west-papua-independence-bid-continues-decades-after-1969-un-backing/news-story/3034661a776e37c97fb6011018c1624c

West Papua independence bid continues decades after 1969 UN backing

Matt Connors, The Courier-Mail January 14, 2017 1:00am

Video Sorong Samurai – Airileke Feat. Twin Tribe

They gathered on Biak, a small island nestled in the crystalline waters of Cenderawasih Bay.

In July 1969, hundreds of stoic Papuans stood and listened, sweating in the jungle heat. Standing witness were Reuters journalist Hugh Lunn and a Dutch newspaper colleague, Otto Kuyk.

Those gathered were there to hear about the Act of Free Choice, a long-promised,
UN-backed vote to allow all the Papuan people a say in their independence.

What they instead heard were the first murmurings of a broken promise that, to this day, plays an enduring role in the bond between Australia and its nearest neighbour, Indonesia.

Just how pivotal played out in curious fashion last week when the TNI, the Indonesian armed forces, announced it had suspended all military ties with Australia.

Indonesia’s program of transmigration has seen the Melanesian population in West Papua fall to 50 per cent, meaning support for separation is no longer in the majority.

A member of Indonesia’s special forces, Kopassus, training at Perth’s SAS barracks months earlier, took offence at course material for suggesting West Papua was part of Melanesia.

The suspension seemingly caught Canberra and our military brass off guard, even though they had spent months secretly trying to cool tensions.

Lunn, one of Queensland’s most-loved authors and a former Courier-Mailjournalist, was not the least bit shocked by Indonesia’s reaction.

Neither were a host of Australia’s top Indonesia watchers and members of the Free West Papua campaign.

A minor spot fire, the suspension was reversed within 24 hours. While it reflects the internal power struggle between the military and President Joko Widodo, at its heart was the touchy subject of West Papuan independence and the “long shadow” of East Timor.

“I’m always upset about it,” Lunn says of West Papua, a position he’s held for 48 years.

Following stints in London, Singapore and Vietnam, where he witnessed the 1968 Tet Offensive, Lunn was Reuters’ correspondent in Indonesia in 1969. He and Dutchman Kuyk were the only Western reporters of the ground for the month-long, independence vote.

An Indonesian security officer beats protester at Manokwari in August 1969 during the period when Indonesia held Act of Free Choice (AOFC) in West New Guinea.

“When I heard they were conducting an Act of Free Choice, I thought it would be done in a democratic way and that everyone would get a vote,” he recalls.

Instead, out of a population of 800,000, Indonesia selected 1025 Melanesians for the vote under the Indonesian consensus system of “musyawarah”. The UN oversaw the sham poll but ignored blatant voter intimidation.

Lunn saw Indonesian soldiers bash Papuans and throw them in the back of army trucks.

“People like me said ‘hold on, that’s not democracy’,” he recalls.

Lunn complained about the violence and intimidation to a UN official, but was told Papua was “like a cancerous growth on the side of the UN that needed to be removed”.

“I had a Papuan crying on my shoulder one night. He said ‘Is the UN going to save us?’ and I said ‘forget about it, you’re going to be part of Indonesia’ and he burst into tears.”

Video
Mark Davis gets rare access to the secretive region of West Papua to find out what’s really happening in the struggle over independence from Indonesia

The tears have rolled ever since – human rights violations, documented atrocities, thousands dead, disappearances and the 2001 murder of revered Papuan leader Theys Eluay have peppered the Papuan independence struggle.

The armed resistance of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), uprisings and rebellions have given way in recent years to peaceful resistance. The often-fractured resistance movement has largely coalesced around the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which formed in 2014 and includes exiled Papuan leaders such as Benny Wenda. It has started a regional and international diplomatic push with some success.

Professor Jason McLeod, from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, says the movement is becoming more organised and strategic.

“The West Papuans are absolutely determined they will get their freedom and a chance to fairly and freely determine whether they want to be part of Indonesia or not,” McLeod says.

But that determination is unlikely to count for zip with a cautious Australian Government, largely thanks to our critical role in East Timor regaining its independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Bilateral relations remained poor until 2006, when the Howard government signed the Lombok Treaty, under which both countries pledge to respect each other’s sovereignty.

And Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says: “Australia remains committed to the territorial integrity of Indonesia, including the Papuan provinces, as expressed by the Lombok Treaty between Australia and Indonesia.”

Hugh Lunn, journalist.

Victoria University Indonesian expert Dr Richard Chauvel says no matter how often Australia expresses respect for Indonesian sovereignty, it will always be met with distrust.

“In Indonesian eyes, the unstated response is ‘that’s exactly what you said about East Timor’,” he says.

Chauvel notes the suspension of military training by TNI commander Gatot Nurmantyo last week “reminds us, yet again, of the long shadow of East Timor”.

“We as Australians tend to forget the sensitivities around East Timor. No country likes to lose provinces.

“The suspicion of any Australian interest in West Papua goes back to that.”

West Papuan dreams of independence may remain just that, according to another keen Indonesian watcher.

Deakin University Professor of International Politics Damien Kingsbury cites a key difference to East Timor: It was forcibly annexed in 1975 and never internationally recognised as part of Indonesia, unlike West Papua.

“Under international law, West Papua is part of Indonesia,” Kingsbury says.

“The circumstances in which that happened are hugely problematic, but it was recognised by the UN.”

Indonesia’s program of transmigration has seen the Melanesian population in West Papua fall to 50 per cent, meaning support for separation is no longer in the majority.

About a quarter of Indonesia’s Budget stems from West Papua’s lucrative natural resources, including gold and copper. The TNI remains committed to retaining West Papua as a province, by force if necessary.

Kingsbury says while Melanesians are definitely second-class citizens in their own land, the obstacles to independence can’t be easily traversed.

“What they need to do is to aim for something that is achievable – a ‘land of peace’. Independence is not a likely outcome. The negotiations need to be around improving the social, economic and political circumstances of Melanesian West Papuans that makes a difference to their lives on the ground. Fifty per cent of something is better than 100 per cent of nothing.

“The Act of Free Choice … should not have been recognised but it was and has now been recognised for four decades.

“It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to change that.”

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http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2017/01/interpol-red-alert-170111133954581.html

482cc152839d405789c0aed367c05fcb_18.jpg Interpol: Red Alert!
www.aljazeera.com
How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders.

2) Interpol: Red Alert!

How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders.

12 Jan 2017 08:04 GMT Politics, Security, Human Rights

video

Interpol is the world’s largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It’s then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate.

FILMMAKERS’ VIEW

By Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae

Benny Wenda still remembers the day when he found out he was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice. He had googled his name, and found the wanted alert.

A campaigner for the independence of his native West Papua from Indonesia, Wenda had been granted asylum in the UK. The Interpol Red Notice said he was wanted for offences involving the use of weapons and explosives, charges Wenda had long insisted were brought by Indonesia to silence him.

At his home, Wenda told us of the fight to get his Interpol notice deleted, and the eventual conclusion – that the case against him was "predominantly political in nature". But it still left the question of how this could happen. How could a global policing organisation with the reputation of Interpol be used for apparently political ends?

It was a question we were to hear frequently during the course of our research, meeting several individuals who said they had been unfairly targeted for extradition and arrest.

In Brussels, Bahar Kimyongur, an activist who has campaigned over human rights in Turkey, told us how an Interpol notice led to his detention in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Turkey had alleged Kimyongur had links with terrorism, but when European authorities investigated they concluded that the charges didn’t stack up. Nevertheless, it took sustained pressure before Interpol confirmed they’d deleted data about him from their systems. It also took a huge toll on his family, Kimyongur told us.

"Turkey had one single tool to crush me. It was Interpol," he said.

For Nadejda Atayeva being on the Interpol wanted list led to a "terrible feeling of injustice". Nadejda and her father Alim were accused of embezzlement after Alim spoke out against authorities in Uzbekistan – charges they dismiss as complete fiction.

They were granted asylum in France, but, Nadejda said, the alert restricted her ability to travel and to tell her story. Interpol confirmed data about her was no longer on their records in 2015.

Nadejda Atayeva President of the Human Rights Association in Central Asia [Al Jazeera]

Politically-motivated wanted alerts

An online trawl through Interpol’s Red Notices shows summaries of cases. But there is no requirement to make Red Notices public. In addition, we discovered another kind of alert circulated via Interpol data bases. These "diffusions" are described as "less formal" than Red Notices, and also used to request the arrest or location of an individual.

While the overwhelming majority of Interpol wanted alerts are clearly entirely legitimate, human rights groups have suggested those that may slip through the net pose a threat to Interpol’s requirement for political neutrality.

The UK-based NGO Fair Trials International is among those who have called on Interpol to introduce more rigorous checks, to ensure countries abide by Interpol’s rules which forbid any intervention in activities of a political nature.

"Interpol has been allowing itself to be used by oppressive regimes across the world to export the persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents," said Jago Russell, Fair Trials’ chief executive. "It has to get used to saying no to member countries."

‘Completely Kafkaesque’

During the course of our investigation, we not only heard stories about politically motivated wanted alerts, but frustration when it came to getting information out of Interpol.

US journalist and media consultant Michelle Betz described her struggle to find out about a Diffusion Notice. Along with other NGO staff, Betz was accused of operating illegally in Egypt in 2011.

The charges were condemned as politically motivated – but some workers were given jail sentences in absentia. Betz then heard Egypt had asked Interpol for a Diffusion Notice.

After months of attempting to contact Interpol directly, her lawyer got in touch with an organisation called the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files, (CCF) an independent body responsible for processing requests for access to information held by the organisation.

Things then took a strange turn. The commission informed her lawyer that they could contact Egypt about Betz’s Diffusion, but that "in the present case, the consultation of Egypt" was "not advisable". Betz described her experience as "completely Kafkaesque".

Following sustained pressure, the CCF eventually informed Betz that information about her had been deleted from Interpol’s files. But she was not alone in expressing frustration over the body, the CCF.

In Amsterdam, Azer Samadov told us how he was detained in 2009 at Schiphol airport on the basis of an Interpol alert. Samadov had been an anti-government activist in Azerbaijan.

When several members of his movement were arrested he fled the country and ended up in the Netherlands where he was granted refugee status. The Dutch authorities eventually apologised for arresting Samadov. His lawyer then tried to find out what information Interpol held about him, contacting the CCF.

Six years on, the legal firm heard that the Interpol alert had disappeared, but this information came not from Interpol but the Dutch authorities. We asked the lawyer what he made of the CCF. His response: "Completely ineffective. It’s a joke."

The Interpol Global Complex for Innovation building (IGCI) in Singapore [Wallace Woon/EPA]

Greater transparency and scrutiny of wanted alerts

Bali, Indonesia, last autumn, was the setting for Interpol’s 2016 General Assembly, a gathering of police chiefs from around the world. We went, too, in search of answers to the troubling matters we had uncovered.

Day three of the assembly was billed as the moment we might get responses to allegations over the misuse of Interpol’s systems. We were told delegates had approved measures Interpol maintained would "strengthen the integrity of Interpol’s information processing mechanisms".

But Nina Vajic, the chairwoman of the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files, subsequently told us that while the changes could mean a more streamlined process in gaining information held by Interpol, the policing organisation would still rely on member countries to provide the data.

It seemed that at the heart of this, then, remained Interpol’s relations with its member states – an issue behind one of the questions we asked Interpol’s secretary-general, Jurgen Stock. Should Interpol name and shame the countries who were serial offenders when it came to abusive requests for wanted notices?

Stock said that if Interpol identified "non-compliance" with its rules, the organisation provided feedback to the member country. While such "non-compliance" with Interpol’s rules was "the exception rather than the rule", Interpol took every case "very seriously". Interpol had introduced a task force to review every request "even more intensively".

As delegates departed from Bali, Interpol insisted measures agreed at their annual assembly would mean greater transparency and scrutiny of wanted alerts. Critics are now waiting to see whether that’s really going to happen.

The programme makers thank Dominic Brown for the use of footage from his documentary ‘The Road to Home’.

Source: Al Jazeera News

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