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wither West Papua? « Previous | |Next »
February 8, 2006

Will Canberra put concerns for the bilateral relationship with Jakarta ahead of growing public support for Papuan independence, and do so in the name of support for Indonesia's territorial integrity? That is the issue raised by the 43 Papuan asylum seekers now being processed on Christmas Island. A grant of asylum by Australia would mean that Canberra accepts their claims of repressive persecution.

The history of the relationship between Indonesia and Australia is one of foreign policy elites ignoring public sentiment and appeasing Jakarta over East Timor. Will the same happen with respect to West Papua? In many ways it depends on what Indonesia does. Independence for Papua is out of the question for Indonesia, and Australia does not support Papuan independence. However, Hugh White says that:

In last year's state of the nation address, President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono listed it as agenda item one in his program, along with the peace agreement in Aceh. He has been prepared to promote a quite far-reaching special autonomy package for Papua. But others in Indonesia are less accommodating, and there is significant evidence that elements of the Indonesian military are repeating some of the repressive tactics that have done so much damage elsewhere.

That kind of autonomy implies a political shift from a unitary state to a federal one, which, presumably, is what the hard line elements in the Indonesian military resist and oppose.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:10 PM | | Comments (0)