When the Dutch controlled West Papua, for sixty-eight years between 1894 and 1962, the relationship between the Dutch and the West Papuans and the Australians was good. There was a sense of cooperation between the administrations on either side of the border, which was maintained as both prepared their respective colonies for self-determination and independence. Throughout this time, West Papuans had direct access to Australia through Papua New Guinea and the Northern Territory.
This peaceful and co-operative relationship changed after Indonesia invaded West Papua in 1961; and was destroyed by the ‘Act of Free Choice’ (which West Papuans still call Act of ‘No’ Choice and ‘Act Free of Choice’). Since then, the West Papuan people have suffered terribly, their Melanesian way of life has been destroyed, their cultures have been changed irrevocably, even the map of Melanesia was altered to finish at the Papua New Guinea border.
These two major events in West Papuan history have also initiated misunderstanding between Indonesia and Australia – a country which had actively supported its anti-colonial struggle against the Dutch in the forties. It also sparked bad blood between Indonesia and West Papua, and between Indonesia and Pacific Island.
From the time when the Indonesian Republic was created in 1949, until the present government under the first President’s daughter, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Indonesians have sought financial assistance from the USA, Europe, Canadia, Japan, and Australia. The Republic claims to need this money to support the welfare requirements of its people, to aid the cost of physical development, to develop their sociologies and their cultures. However, the Republic has used this financial aid to build secret intelligence operations and to finance military operation.
Papuan Intelligence Service Report, 21st September 2002
On 21 September 2002, TNI military personnel leaked to Papua Intelligence Service (PIS) the report of a secret meeting between President Megatwati Sukarnoputri, inner circle government ministers, and military commanders, where it was agreed:
- To use 120 billion rupiah (120.000.000.000) for military operations in the fourteen regencies of West Papua to kidnap and assassinate 1,200 pro-independence leaders, activists and ex-political prisoners, including ondofolo (traditional leaders in Jayapura) and korano (traditional leaders on Biak-Numfoor islands).
- To use a special force of 2,000 military elite, and 8,000 Laskar Jihad in West Papua. Each military post in West Papua is to be manned by 80-500 personnel, depending on the size of the area, and the number of targetted leaders in that area.
- This operation was meant to begin in May 2002, but didn’t, and it was now a command from Jakarta to begin operations on 1 October 2002.
- This operation is overt and covert. Each day it is the duty of the Indonesian special elite to implement the kidnapping and assassination of five to ten of the targeted leaders.
- The operation began, as planned, on 1 October 2002. On 1 October, four were killed in regency of Nabire, two in regency of Biak, two in regency of Jayapura, and four in regency of Wamena.
- The victims from Nabire, Biak and Wamena were activists. In Jayapura, one of the victims was an activist called Wambrauw; the other, called Kaisiri, was the driver for a KODAM Provincial-level Commander in West Papua.
- The victims were lassoed from intelligence operators in dark, shaded cars, with special iron traps that Papuans use to catch pigs and deer in the jungle. The victims heads were cut off, their eyes gouged out, and their genitals cut off.
- Three cars used in the operation have been identified by the Papuan Intelligence Service. The number plates of two of them are 5500 and 6500.
The military has also armed SATGAS MERAHPUTIH (Indonesian red and white terrorists) with AK47, SS11, Kalashnikov, grenades and C4 (special bomb material only available to TNI in Indonesia). This is very similar to the way the military armed the militia in East Timor before and after the referendum in August 1999.
In the same document, the Indonesian military government said that when this program successfully defended Papua from independence activism and support, it would also mean success in winning against Australia and America. I believe that Indonesian military-government has strong links with Al Qaidah terrorists and the alliance of fundamental Islamic organizations that has emerged since America announced its war on terrorism.
Strategies to Avoid threats to regional stability
To avert any possible dangers for Australians, Indonesians, Melanesian West Papuans and the international community now, or in the future, the Australian government needs to rebuild a relationship with the Indonesian Government that is orientated towards the establishment of justice, peace and love, based on fundamental truths and human rights. This means the government should no longer close its eyes to human rights atrocities perpetrated in Indonesia, and must learn to recognise and negotiate West Papuans democratic rights and inalienable right to self-determination.
As a representative of the West Papuan people, I propose six strategies for your government to obtain these goals. The first relates to the representation of West Papua in your country’s maps.
Geographic and Regional Security
West Papua and Australia are both located in the South-west Pacific region, and are in close proximity to each other. As neighbours, our future security is strongly linked together. We have equal responsibility to create a Zone of Justice, Peace and Love for our peoples, and for any members of the international community visiting our region.
To ensure that your government positions us correctly in the South-west Pacific Region, I request that the government’s official maps of the South-west Pacific Region be adjusted to include West Papua as a bone fide member of this region, as the rest of New Guinea is. This will mean that West Papua’s legitimate Melanesian cultura identity is acknowledged by your government.
Your government changed this map after the international community recognised the Indonesian annexation of West Papua in 1962. Indonesian sovereignty over my country was obtained through the dirty politics of the New York Agreement and the so-called Act of Free Choice – which lawyers of the International Commission of Jurists now deem contravene international law. The retired United Nations Under-secretary General Chakra admitted in an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23/11/01 that the Indonesian procedure was a “whitewash … Nobody gave a thought to the fact that a million people had their fundamental human rights trampled… How could anyone have seriously believe that all voters unanimously decided to join his [Suharto’s] regime. Unanimity like that is unknown in democracies”.
Instead of the international principle for referendums of one person/one vote, Indonesian regulations were used. Only 1022 “representatives” were appointed by the Indonesian Government and were intimidated to “choose” what the Indonesian Government wanted. The majority of traditional tribal elders could not even speak Indonesian and required six weeks of “re-education” in concentration camps before they voted. Only one eight of each province actually bowed their heads in agreement to become part of Indonesia. See appendix for research on Act of “Free Choice”.
By placing West Papua in South East Asia, and automatically under the ASEAN (Association of South East Asia Nation) umbrella, the Australian government, in collusion with others, placed us in a situation which by definition threatened our existence as a Melanesian people. We have been isolated from our Melanesian family in the South Pacific ever since. More importantly, from your point of view, it set up a corridor for possible enemies to infiltrate Australia and other Pacific island countries via Papua New Guiena.
To address the wrong perpetrated by the Government of Australia West Papua must be re-classified as part of the Pacific and within the ambit of Pacific regional security. Australia Government must urge the Pacific Islands Countries to list West Papua as Observers before the next Pacific Island Forum in New Zealand in August 2003. This is imperative and an action that must not be delayed. Currently there are severe threats to regional security in Papua New Guinea caused by several Indonesian military-owned businesses which have links to fundamentalist Islamic groups which in turn are link with Al Qaedah. Similarly, for a long time, Australia has been infiltrated by terrorists from the Middle East through Indonesian agents who hide them on boats travelling to Australia. Should not our regional governments prevent such terrorist groups settling in our region?
My next proposal concerns establishing a permanent means of communication between Indonesia and Australia to solve West Papua’s political problems.
The Establishment of a Round Table Forum
The Australian Government should build an approach, links and a network of understanding with the Indonesian Government by establishing a Round Table Forum by agreement between the two governments. This forum could be used as a platform for discussion between the two countries whenever there are misunderstandings.
Australian Foreign Aid to Indonesia
When the Indonesian government asks for help, the Australian government should only consider responding to the provision of material needs. For example, when medical assistance is requested, only the provision of medical assistance, not finance, should be considered. The same should apply to requests for funding infrastructure. The Australian government needs to refrain from giving Indonesia – including the current government of Megawati Sukarnoputri – financial aid, because there is a strong probability that the funds will be diverted into administrator’s pockets, or used to mount military operations. Foreign monies have been used by the Indonesian military government for intelligence operations against West Papuans’ freedom of speech and assembly since 1963. Up to 400 000 West Papuans have been murdered or have ‘disappeared’ during that time. Does the Australian government really want its money used for such atrocious human rights abuse?
Australian Educational Aid to Indonesia
Since the beginning of the Indonesian occupation, West Papuans have not been the beneficiaries of AUSAID study programs in Australia. Each year, the Australian government gives 370 education scholarships, but West Papuans never receive any. The majority of Indonesian scholarship students are selected by special teams from the Indonesia National Department of Education, and the greater majority of students sent to Australia have been Muslims. The teams justify their decisions not to include West Papuans by claiming that West Papuans have low intelligence and so will be more likely to dropout. This is totally untrue. It is documented by your own government that the citizens of Dutch New Guinea in 1945 were highly educated and had the highest the literacy rate in the archipelago (ICG Report 2000).
West Papuans are the victims of discrimination, and have been cut off from such educational opportunities. Two years ago a West Papuan student, Beatus Tambaip was rejected by the Special Selection Team – apparently because his English apparently was not adequate. He went to the Catholic Church in Merauke, and told the Bishop about his dream to study a Master Degree of Business in Australia. The Church sponsored his studies at the Newcastle campus of the University of New South Wales. Next month he finishes his Masters degree, and will return to the University of Cenderawasih in the capital of West Papua, to take up a position as a lecturer in Economics and Political History. His lecturers in Australia have recommended that he commence a Ph D. Would it be possible for your government to give him a scholarship, because he has definitely demonstrated his linguistic capabilities.
I think it is time for the Australian Government to give special opportunities to West Papuan students to study in Australia. This will not only address the imbalances of the past, but would prepare students from West Papua and Indonesia for the future. If Indonesian and West Papuan students study together in Australia, they will learn what they need to do when their studies are finished and they return to Indonesia. They will both learn respect for democratic values and principles. They will learn to respect each other in a supportive environment. They will learn how to take responsibility for themselves, and for their family and neighbours in the region. They will build good relationships with Australian and Pacific Island communities. They will learn to respect human rights, and how to be responsible for West Papua’s Zone of Justice, Peace and Love.
Guns, military intelligence, trade and political relationships cannot create justice, peace and love in our country, and in our region. Only through education can West Papua’s Zone of Justice, Peace and Love be accepted and respected.
Proposed Defence and Security Strategies
In reviewing its relationship with Indonesia, Australia should ensure its own security first. Papua New Guineas defence and security systems are very weak and ineffective. My brothers and sisters on the border are very poor, their health is bad, they have no transport system, no communication networks, minimal education, and few defence skills. As Ben Chifley, your former Prime Minister said, it is poverty and ignorance that renders people vulnerable to extreme politics. This door or hole into Papua New Guinea is already being exploited by the Indonesia military – which, because of the military’s links to fundamentalist Islamic organisations, means the security of Australia and other Pacific Island nations are threatened.
I believe that an independent West Papua would be effective in blocking the spread of fundamentalist Islamic organizations into Papua New Guinea and other Pacific island nations. We all know that Indonesia has become a haven for terrorists. Some of their organizations are guided by Al Qaedah leaders from the Middle East, but others, like Laskar Jihad, are extensions of the Indonesian military and can be considered Indonesian national products.
During the Cold War in the 1960’s, America (supported by Australia) sacrificed West Papua to Indonesian expansionist policies in order to protect South East Asia and the South Pacific from communism. Because basic principles of international and human rights law were violated, there is good reason for America and its allies to support a review of the New York Agreement of 1962 and the 1969 Act of Free Choice as a first step in removing the Indonesian authority from West Papua. Such policy would, in effect, establish a fence against further infiltration by Indonesian terrorists into Papua New Guinea, and by extension further out into the Pacific.
The Australian government should provide for West Papuans, who are mostly Christians, to come to Australia for special covert anti-terrorism training. A highly trained squad would be a special security tool, and would counter balance the 8 000 Laskar Jihad who were sent to West Papua early in 2002 by the Indonesian military. All West Papuans speak and read Indonesian, and the squad would become elemental to the surveillance of governmental and public institutions in West Papua and key Indonesian cities. I believe that Australia should afford more faith in the performance of well-trained West Papuans than in any sector of the Indonesian military, and I trust the Australian government will take this recommendation seriously
I think it is imperative that the Australian government is cautious in the way it establishes joint intelligence with Indonesia. I would hope that such endeavour guarantees that Australian interests are served before Indonesian interests are met. I understand, from experience, how Indonesian intelligence and the military and the police work with the government in Indonesia; and, more importantly, under the current regime, how they still do.
To make my point, three examples should suffice. First, at the military’s New Year Parade in 2002, President Megawati, the head of state, advised the military to be “good soldiers, do your duty, and not be too concerned about human rights”. Secondly, Indonesian intelligence received human rights training from America and England last year, but it is clear from events in West Papua and Aceh this year that the priority of its highest ranking officers is still the maintenance of business interests, not the institution of human rights. Thirdly, since 1967, the military intelligence has protected the Freeport mine in West Papua. In 1997 it increased the amount of security ‘required’ (in a country totally committed to nonviolence) at an approximate cost to Freeport of US$47 000 000. Last year, after the collapse of Enron, America tightened its corporate laws and accountability measures. Three weeks before the murder of three of Freeport employees in Timika (in West Papua) Freeport executives in Jakarta advised the military it was downsizing security payments. Attempting to impress the ongoing need for security, the Indonesian military immediately blamed West Papuan freedom fighters; and not more than a few hours after the murders, so did the American Ambassador in Jakarta.
Providing security for the numerous big companies in West Papua has long been the easiest and best way for military officers and the police to supplement their meagre incomes, and to create profitable business ventures for their retirement. They have been involved in racketeering for so long, the Indonesian people, especially the Chinese, accept it as normal, The practitioners themselves are incapable of recognising their own shortcomings in terms of democratic bureaucratic practices. They co-operate with each other, but also compete against each other, and no sector – including the government – feels the need to be responsible for its actions, or accountable to the Indonesian people or its financial sponsors.
In the wake of Bali, if Australia wishes to re-constitute joint intelligence programs with Indonesia, it should confine the relationship to the absorption of information about terrorism. Information about special Australian intelligence, systems, strategies, and networks for the protection of the Australian people and its territory should not be passed to Indonesia.
Independent West Papua as a fence for Australia
I think that the Australian government should be courageous and put the West Papua independence issue on Australia’s own security agenda. This can be done by quietly influencing the Pacific Island nations to accept West Papua as an observer of the Pacific Islands Forum. The Forum would then be in a position to become the necessary third party in addressing, and finding solution for the problem. At the same time, the Pacific Island nations could be encouraged to list West Papua in the United Nations Decolonisation Committee. This would put the issue back on the agenda of the international body, which has the capacity, but not yet the support of its members, to solve this long-standing regional issue.
In view of the role that West Papua, as a bastion against Indonesian fundamentalism, is going to play in Australian security, I would like to advise the Australian government to open a mail box, a direct channel of communication, from the United West Papua National Front for Independence, a body formed during a meeting in Wewak last February, of sixty key leaders from West Papua, with the support of Sir Michael Somare, Mr Tony Bais and Bernard Narakobi.
I would also like to suggest that the Australian parliament give a West Papuan representative the opportunity to speak at any debate or review of Australian foreign policy that involves West Papuan interests.
In summary, I would like to re-iterate the view – which I have tried to express many times since arriving in Australia – that Australia’s security interests and West Papuan aspirations – would be well served if a direct, though subtle relationship were established between the Australian government and the West Papuan leadership through the various mechanisms outline in this paper.
This would not necessarily contravene Australian policy to support the territorial ‘integrity’ of the Indonesian Republic, but would rather enhance the increasingly desperate efforts of democrats in Indonesia to hold their country together as it negotiates the difficult path of political, social, and economic reform within an environment long-compounded (but now openly) by its own military terrorists, fundamentalist nationalist terrorists, and international Islamic terrorists.
It is interesting to note that the strongest critics of RMIT University’s apology to the Indonesian Charge D’affaire in Canberra for raising the West Papuan flag at the ceremony marking my induction as a Research Associate in August this year, were academics at Gadja Mahda University, who claimed RMIT should have insisted on its right, in a democracy, to host intellectual debate and activity that is free of state censorship and control.