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Papua Controversy

I have been sent a link by an Indonesian acquaintance about being accused, on CNN Indonesia, by a senior former Indonesian general of being involved in, or behind, recent unrest in West Papua.

This allegation is quite untrue. In that same statement, the former general also vastly exaggerated my role in Timor-Leste in 1999. The general had a central role in Timor-Leste at that time.

To clarify, I coordinated Australian observers to the 1999 ballot for independence in Timor-Leste. I later advised the Free Aceh Movement in the Helsinki peace talks in the process of achieving a dignified and reasonably just end to a three decade long war. I later advised West Papuan groups about better coordinating themselves so as to speak with a single voice about their claim for ‘peace and freedom’, which would ultimately be within the framework of the Indonesian state. 

While I understand how it occurs, I have never advocated violence, and have always looked for resolutions to conflict rather than prolonging conflict.

I responded to the CNN Indonesia story, which is here:

I have also replied to another Indonesia news organisation with the following answers to their questions:

1. What is your view about the future of Papua?
Answer:  Papua is recognised under international law as part of Indonesia so, unless there is a profound humanitarian crisis which requires international intervention – which I do not expect – then Papua will remain as part of Indonesia. I hope, however, that the aspirations of the Melanesian peoples of Papua for ‘peace and freedom’ (their words) can be met. This means demilitarisation of Papua, reducing the number of para-military police and meeting more of the basic needs of the indigenous people, including giving them genuine access to deciding their own circumstances.
2. A retired general said that you have Jokowi’s blue print on Papua. Is that correct?
Answer: I did not say I had Jokowi’s blueprint for Papua. I did not mention Jokowi at all that I can remember.  Jokowi was not even president at the time of that conference. My talk to the conference was focused on how Interfet became the blueprint for the United Nations paradigm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’.  Perhaps Pak Kiki was only half listening.
I do note, however, that Jokowi has wanted to resolve the Papua problem, since bfore he became president:
3. What are your suggestions for solving the Papuan problem?
Answer:  Please see response to Question 1.
4. What do you think about the role of ULMWP in representing Papuans?
Answer: ULMWP is a representative body of the Papuan people and its leaders should be given the opportunity to negotiate a permanent settlement to the Papua issue. I hope that is possible for the sake of the people of Papua and for Indonesia. 

5. What do you think of Papua’s differences and similarities with Aceh?

Answer: That is a very big question, but the short answer is:
Differences: Papua has not had the same unity of representastion or military force as had GAM, so it has been more difficult for them to represent their claim. Also, Acehnese are ethnic Malay and many Indonesians feel closer to Acehnese; Papuans are still regarded by many Indonesian as ‘different’, which makes dialogue more difficult.  
Similarities: Both Aceh and Papua are recognised under international law as part of Indonesia. Timor-Leste was never recognised as part of Indonesia under international law. Aceh’s struggle was resolved through a good compromise, which benefited both Aceh and Indonesia; I believe that a similar type of compromise could also end the problems in Papua, if the President has enough commitment to the task, if Jusuf Kalla can direct the Indonesian end of the process, and if the TNI can be kept under control. 
I sincerely hope that Indonesia can learn to be a country completely at peace with itself. I have not wanted to provoke violence as I have seen its consequences – no-one wins. A peaceful settlement is possible, but both sides must want it for it to be achieved. The rest, then is about the details.

I suppose, in trying to understand its own problems and not wishing to confront its own failures, Indonesia and in particular its military, the TNI, need to look for scapegoats, or perhaps a foreign ‘boogie-man’ with which to frighten their citizens. While they have done a reasonable job of that with me, and for which I have been banned from entering Indonesia for the past 13 years, it is a deeply inaccurate portrayal in almost every substantive respect. 

Do I care, personally? Not especially.

I would be be very concerned, however, if this misinformation/propaganda in any way reflected upon any person or any institution I am associated with.  For this reason alone, I refute these baseless claims and challenge the accuser/s to provide evidence of their claims.