Letter from ULMWP Spokesperson to Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, October 2019

Published in:

Senator Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Parliament of Australia.

16 October 2019.

Dear Minister

I am writing to request a much more engaged response from Australia to the Indonesian Parliament’s recent passage of legislation that formally integrated a religious militia, Paguyuban Nusantara, into the Indonesian Defence Force.

Paguyuban Nusantara, led by criminal-returnees from the caliphate wars in the Middle East, has declared its intention to wage holy jihad in West Papua (SBS TVNews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1HYaiRttkQ). Its declaration contradicts the Indonesian government’s claim that the group is a ‘non-violent response by the people of the archipelago’ to the situation in West Papua. Yesterday Paguyuban Nusantara staged an impressive launch in Wamena (West Papua).

Paguyuban Nusantara’s military-backed presence portends a level of bloodshed that will not serve Indonesian, West Papuan, or Australian security interests. Furthermore it contravenes President Jokowi’s response to the extraordinary advice of his two provincial parliaments in West Papua to initiate a dialogue with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua under the auspice of an international third party.

Minister, we believe you can help dissuade Indonesia from continuing this Syria-like development in West Papua through quiet dialogue with incoming Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin (that is distinct from your usual communiqués with your counter-part and President Jokowi).

Mr Amin is Vice-President and Minister for Security and Political Affairs (replacing General Wiranto) and as Chairman of the Ulema Council of Indonesia the republic’s most powerful Muslim cleric.  His election as Vice-President is a troubling illustration of the Islamisation of politics in Indonesia, and the ULMWP believes that he, not President Jokowi, has the religious and political authority to demand the recall of the Islamic militia from West Papua.

Minister, recently the ULMWP watched, from inside the UN General Assembly (for the first time), as our people faced the Indonesian Army and Police to demonstrate their support.  Then we heard member-state representatives gossip about the demise of Indonesian colonial authority in West Papua after various Prime Ministers highlighted the Pacific Islands Forum communiqué—which Australia signed—that asked for UN access to West Papua and an investigation of the root cause of the problem.

Minister, we hope that Australia will dissuade the republic from fuelling religious intolerance and will encourage Indonesian politicians to mount legal and political arguments rather than guns and militia-violence as we negotiate this inevitable shift in the geo-political arrangements of our region.

Yours sincerely,
Jacob Rumbiak, ULMWP Spokesperson

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