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Indonesia's Australia card « Previous | |Next »
March 27, 2006

Australia's recent decision to grant temporary protection visas to 42 of the 43 Papuans who reached Cape York in an outrigger canoe two months ago tacitly acknowledges the credibility of the Papuans' claim that they fled "from the intimidation of the killing and the persecution inflicted by Indonesian authorities against us". The Indonesian ambassador to Australia was withdrawn in protest.

An even handed quote:

Like many countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has dealt poorly with its minorities. Papua is perhaps the most glaring example, a vast Melanesian territory whose people and culture are starkly different from those of the rest of the archipelago. The Javanese, in particular, who continue to have a dominant influence on Indonesian public life, have shown little patience for the Papuans, their aspirations or their culture.

The Papuan grievances go further than a deep-rooted disrespect for Papuan culture, as they also range from an unfair distribution of the wealth gleaned from its natural resources--eg., from the Freeport copper and gold mine at Grasberg - to political double-dealing in Jakarta.

The nationalists in Jakarta---particularly in the military and the House of Representatives--- see Australia's decision to grant temporary protection visas as tantamount to challenging Indonesian sovereignty over Papua. They are of the view that Australia is out to dismember its vast northern neighbor. That is implausible from the Australain perspective but the nationalists play the Australia card in a campaign to block the shift to giving regional autonomy to Aceh and Papua. The nationalists desire a unified centralized state not a federal one; nationalistic sentiments run on high since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis ; and nationalism is becoming linked to the US-led "war on terrorism", which is being portrayed as a war on Islam.

John Quiggin has a good post on Australia's double standards in dealing with Iraqi and Papuan refugees.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

Excerpt from "Of "Jim Bob" and "boat people"", http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2006/03/of-jim-bob-and-boat-people.html

Those prior boatloads of people were not our neighbours. These were people who had come from half-way around the world, by sea, air and land, to muster in Indonesia to try to enter Australia. Along the way they passed through, over and around multiple places that would have given them due asylum, asylum intending to be by its very nature a temporary refuge from persecution.

Australians have not raised one wimper in opposition to the Papuan asylum-seekers, notwithstanding that they, too, arrived by sea, in their traditional dug-out craft. Is this a change of heart or a difference with a distinction? I would argue that the great unwashed are far more caring and discriminating than they are sometimes portrayed. In the case of the previous boat people, the perception was these were not serious asylum seekers but opportunistic economic emigrants trying to slip under the immigration radar or otherwise "jump the queue".

That there has been no voice in disdain of the latest boat people speaks volumes about Australia's true feelings about asylum and giving "genuine" asylum seekers a fair go.

Gumboat Stew,
there is a lot of good sense in what you say.

Your so-called 'great unwashed' are probably wary of Indonesia given its track record (military and militas) in East Timor and the human rights of the military.

So our sympathies are on the side of the West Papuans re their seeking asyluum.