|Subject: Papua: Damien Kingsbury: The
Choices Ahead [+AI Slams Asylum Policy]
- The Australian: The Trouble with Territory's Future [Damien Kingsbury outlines the choices ahead for Indonesia's Papua]
- The Australian: No Refuge from Papuan Storm
The Australian Saturday, April 15, 2006
The Trouble with Territory's Future
Damien Kingsbury outlines the choices ahead for Indonesia's Papua
THE diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia has highlighted the increasingly critical situation in the already troubled territory of Papua. As events develop, the future of Papua looks less clear than at any time since Indonesia moved into the former Dutch territory in 1963.
The options range from worsening discord and conflict to the prospect of independence. But for those Papuans who favour independence, Indonesia's nationalists, spearheaded by the Indonesian military, the TNI, are profoundly opposed to Papua's separation from Indonesia and will destroy the place rather than let it go.
Should this situation arise, the Indonesian Government would have almost no capacity, and probably little desire, to limit the TNI's actions. Beyond Papua in Indonesia, there is only opposition to its independence.
The problem with the independence proposition is that even though there is little likelihood it can be achieved, it suits the TNI to raise this prospect to entrench its own position in Papua and, as guarantor of state cohesion, in Indonesian politics.
No matter which way events turn, the situation in Papua is not sustainable. Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recognises this and wants a negotiated resolution. However, he has so far said this should occur within the context of existing legislation for Papua. According to most Papuan groups, this is too limited to produce an adequate outcome.
Similarly, there is growing international interest in and increasing pressure for a resolution in Papua, not least from the US Congress and some parts of the US administration. Australia also wants to see a resolution in Papua, in large part to limit it as the focus of continuing bilateral discord.
The US Congress has applied some pressure over Papua's status and could push for a negotiated settlement. But the US administration is generally keen to retain and indeed boost Indonesia as a regional ally.
Short of overwhelming public pressure, as with East Timor, Australia is reduced to the diplomatic equivalent of hand-wringing, and this is more over its relationship with Jakarta than reflecting any great concern for the people of Papua.
The question, then, is whether a negotiated settlement can be charted between the competing claims of Papuan calls for independence, the backlash this would entail and the deteriorating status quo. A negotiated settlement, if it moved beyond rhetoric, would require three criteria. These can be summarised as intention, capacity and opportunity.
Both the Indonesian Government and a representative Papuan organisation must first want a negotiated solution. Yudhoyono does, if within an impossibly limited framework. Key Papuan leaders have also said they seek what they call a just peace through dialogue. The primary intention, therefore, appears to be there.
In terms of capacity, there has been a coalescing of Papua's political organisations around a common vision for the future, as well as a desire for a negotiated settlement to that end. In support of his legislative program, Yudhoyono, meanwhile, has so far been able to muster a small but definite majority in Indonesia's legislature, the People's Representative Council or DPR.
However, in Indonesia's sometimes factious political environment, Yudhoyono must also be able to command substantial institutional support to ensure that any agreement reached is respected. It would be easy for the Indonesian army or its proxy militias in Papua - Laskar Jihad and Laskar Tabligh - to wreck any such agreement. The militias have opposed Papuan activists in the past and there have been recent reports of militia involvement in drive-by shootings.
Among Papuans, too, there has been a capacity to divide, although many Papuans note that their lack of a united leadership is primarily a consequence of their leaders being murdered or forced into exile. Divisions in Papuan society, however, have been overstated in Jakarta and there is now a commitment to the idea of a representative team rather than the idea of a single leader.
A negotiated settlement also requires opportunity. The Aceh peace agreement was initiated before the 2004 tsunami, but there is no doubt that event helped push negotiations to a successful conclusion. The other main factor was international support, and pressure on both parties.
Papua does not have the tsunami incentive, but there is an increasing sense of urgency about its status. And, as with Aceh, any settlement in Papua will also require support, not least on the part of a willing mediator and the backing of a key international power such as the US or European Union to act as a guarantor for any agreement.
Indonesia would prefer to negotiate an outcome internally, but any possible internal agreement would probably be subverted, as it was with Papua's original special autonomy package.
There is virtually no one in Papua who wants a negotiated settlement who would trust the Indonesian Government without international mediation and related guarantees. There are, however, two impediments to the possibility of a negotiated settlement. The first and main impediment is that Indonesia's DPR has not yet passed the enabling legislation from the Aceh peace agreement. Further, and despite international guarantees, the legislation that is being considered falls short of that which was agreed to.
Despite differences between Aceh and Papua, the Aceh peace agreement will act as a precedent to any possible negotiated settlement for Papua. If it fails, then the chances of a negotiated settlement in Papua would appear slim. If the Aceh legislation is passed, but in diluted form, or subverted in practice, this too will undermine a possible Papua settlement.
At this stage, however, it appears that the Aceh peace agreement will hold. A recent meeting of senior Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders and other Acehnese politicians in Stockholm reaffirmed them as committed to a path of peace through democracy.
To that end, the Aceh peace legislation will probably be passed in the next few weeks, and its expected shortcomings will be referred to its international guarantors, the Crisis Management Initiative and the EU, for mediation. At that point, prospects for a follow-up settlement for Papua may start to look more reasonable, if not promising.
A lesser, although still critical, problem also lies with the international community. The EU backed the Aceh peace agreement because it came hot on the heels of its commitment with others to rebuilding Aceh after the tsunami.
Support for the Aceh agreement was also the first outing for the EU as a global player in conflict resolution. The relative success of the EU's Aceh monitoring mission has given it confidence. However, a further effort may stretch Indonesia's willingness to provide the necessary endorsement that such missions require. And it may stretch the limited enthusiasm of the EU's member-states, which have provided less, rather than more, to Aceh than was originally asked of them. There are many in the US Congress who would also like to assist in resolving the Papua problem, but they are unlikely to receive great support from the administration, perhaps beyond Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Apart from the US's significant and sensitive investments in Papua, such as the contentious Freeport copper and gold mine, the US administration sees its renewed ties to the TNI as part of its principal focus of the war on terror.
Not only will the US administration be reluctant to jeopardise this warming security relationship, any military-based monitoring capacity is also limited by the US being stretched to its financial and logistic limits in Iraq. There is, then, little will, much less capacity, for even a moderate military-based guarantee in Papua.
Where there may be some scope, however, is for a US or joint US-EU civilian-based monitoring exercise through their respective official aid agencies. A military response to violations appears highly unlikely, but clear economic sanctions could work.
Indonesia remains highly vulnerable to pressure on foreign investment and continuing multilateral aid through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It was, after all, this latter type of pressure that persuaded the Indonesian government to allow an Australian-led UN sanctioned force into East Timor in 1999.
It appears, then, that a negotiated resolution to the Papua problem is available, if still having to overcome serious hurdles. Like any such resolution, it will not be easy and will be prone to competing pressures.
The intention to work towards a resolution exists on the Papuan side and probably exists on the part of Yudhoyono. It also appears that each have the capacity to negotiate, if still dealing with some fractious elements. The question is, will the international community help provide Papua, and Indonesia, with the opportunity?
Damien Kingsbury is director of international and community development at Victoria's Deakin University and was adviser to the Free Aceh Movement in the 2005 Helsinki peace talks.
By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press Writer
CANBERRA, April 14 (AP) -- Australia's new policy of sending asylum seekers arriving by boat to island detention camps could breach its international obligations to refugees, Amnesty International said Friday.
The government announced Thursday a toughening of its policy toward asylum seekers after Jakarta angrily denounced Australia's decision to grant refugee status to 42 people from the Indonesian province of Papua.
Many in Jakarta saw the decision as tacit acknowledgment of Indonesian human rights abuses in Papua, also known as West Papua, and a signal of Australian support for a long-running separatist movement on the half-island province.
The Papuans have settled in the southern city of Melbourne where one of them, Herman Wainggai, used a Good Friday Roman Catholic church service to describe the trauma he endured before escaping from Indonesia.
Parish priest Father Peter Norden said his congregation was pleased to welcome the Papuans into their community.
"The story of Good Friday is one of persecution and oppression, and the story of the West Papuans fits comfortably into the service of the day," he said in a statement.
The government has denied the new policy is kowtowing to Indonesia, and has said it will apply to boat arrivals from all countries, not just from Papua which is the closest Indonesian province to Australia.
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone had said one reason future boat arrivals would be sent offshore, probably the impoverished South Pacific nation of Nauru, was to prevent asylum seekers from using "Australia as a staging post for political protest about the domestic business of other countries."
But London-based Amnesty International said Australia could have violated its international obligations by only sending boat arrivals to islands while allowing those that arrive by plane to stay in mainland detention centers, where they have access to the full range of Australia's legal options to further their claims.
"All asylum seekers must be treated equally," the human rights group said in a statement.
"Australia's commitment under the international refugee convention ... is that it will not penalize refugees based on their method of arrival," it added.
Under a policy introduced in 2001, asylum seekers arriving on outlying Australian islands were sent to detention camps on South Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, and the Australian Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island.
But those who reached the mainland were deemed entitled to Australia's full legal rights allowing them to launch appeals which could take years to resolve. Now, even those arriving on the mainland by boat will be sent to island detention camps.
The Australian Saturday, April 15, 2006
No Refuge from Papuan Storm
It's not only the Indonesian President who has a domestic political problem over Papua. Political editor Dennis Shanahan reports on the effects here
INDONESIA'S President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley are three politicians being held hostage by popular opinion since human rights in Papua became an issue again. The shackles binding the three are latent anti-Australian feeling in Indonesia, fuelled by Australia's role in East Timor's independence and meddling by human rights activists, many of whom are Christians; and latent anti-Indonesian feeling in Australia fed by the Bali bombings, the trials of Australians on drugs charges in Indonesia and perceived ingratitude over Australian aid to victims of the 2004 tsunami. The already weighty task of governing has been made much harder for SBY, as the President is familiarly known, because of Australia's acceptance of 42 Papuans as asylum-seekers earlier this year.
Howard's political threat, ironically, comes from the section of the Australian public most pleased with the Prime Minister turning back boat people, his stand on the Tampa asylum-seekers in 2001 and his Pacific solution. This is the group most likely to harbour deep anti-Indonesian resentment and to have voted for One Nation.
Beazley's threat is from the other side of the spectrum: the Left of his Labor Party and human rights supporters appalled at the Opposition Leader's support for Howard's Tampa agenda who are keen to have a crack at another outpost of Indonesian repression.
The two most dangerous strands of public opinion in Australia for the bilateral relationship and the national leaders are coming from different directions but have the same destination. This is the problem Howard and Beazley face domestically while trying to maintain relations with Jakarta.
Meanwhile, the view in Jakarta is that Australia is accusing Indonesia of torture and suppression of its own people in the provinces of Papua and is exercising double standards by accepting them as asylum-seekers when we rejected hundreds of other boatpeople, such as those from the Middle East, who came via Indonesia.
Notwithstanding that there are clear human rights abuses and corruption in Papua and that the Indonesian central government in Java has mishandled steps for the provinces' autonomy, this is a compelling and understandable logic from Australia's critics in Indonesia. It works to reinforce all of the old images of Australia looking down on its Asian neighbours and being a white, Christian, elitist enclave. Islamists are hardly about to miss the point that Papuan separatists and asylum-seekers are being encouraged and assisted by Australian-based Christian groups.
What's more, the beginning of the Papuan process bears an uncanny resemblance to the long but inexorable progress in Australia supporting East Timorese independence, which was the greatest rupture in Australian-Indonesian relations for decades.
Yudhoyono and Australian-Indonesian relations would be crippled by another schism in Indonesia and the establishment of an unstable neighbour for Papua New Guinea.
Indeed, relations are at their lowest since East Timor's Australian-backed vote for independence in 1999.
Yudhoyono has described relations with Canberra as entering a "difficult phase" and has called for serious discussions on the future of the bilateral relationship. This from the same Indonesian leader who warned in the Great Hall of the Australian parliament a year ago: "We know from experience that our relations are so complex and unique that it can be pulled in so many different directions and it can go right as often as it can go wrong. Which is why we have to handle it with the greatest care and counsel."
Yudhoyono appears to have miscalculated in making a direct personal approach to Howard over the asylum-seekers, offering a personal guarantee of their safety if returned, and Howard's response has been rushed and confused.
The Indonesian leader misread the legal position of the 43 Papuans who'd arrived on the mainland and were subject to independent assessment, with 42 receiving temporary protection visas: that it was beyond the reach of Howard, even if he had wanted to intervene. Relations between the two leaders may be good, but it would have been suicidal for Howard to have intervened. Howard and the cabinet now have acted to go as far as they can to insulate the diplomatic relationship from further bruising.
While suffering the accusations of kowtowing to Indonesians from those who resent Indonesia because they view its judicial system as corrupt - including the charge of appeasement from Australian Greens Senate leader Bob Brown - Howard has tried to revisit the Tampa experience in language and practice.
Essentially treating all asylum-seekers as we did those who arrived on our northern islands, excised from the rest of Australia to stop people smugglers bringing Middle Eastern asylum-seekers, the Howard Government will process everyone offshore.
Under the 2001 arrangements, if an asylum-seeker reaches an excised island, it is not regarded as Australian territory for the purposes of migration law. Under new arrangements, asylum-seekers, even those landing on the mainland, can be sent to Australia's Christmas Island or the Australian-funded centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for processing.
The new rules, signed off by cabinet's national security committee, mean that any claim for asylum will be processed as if the applicant were in an overseas UN refugee camp, joining the worldwide queue.
As Treasurer Peter Costello put it on Thursday (almost echoing Howard's words on people smuggling during the 2001 election campaign): "Australia will decide how to deal with refugee claims and we'll do it in accordance with the refugee convention. So it's a matter for Australia the way it decides to deal with these matters." Referring to the Pacific solution and turning back boats, he said: "That was a suite of measures that was very, very successful in stopping the people smugglers because it meant that you could still have your claims assessed but you would have them assessed in a third country."
But Costello, having said all of that with an eye to those from the resentful Right, couldn't avoid the point that it was being done "to maintain good relations with Indonesia".
Beazley has faced a similar dilemma. Pilloried for vacillation of his stance on asylum-seekers in 2001 from One Nation supporters, then hectored by human rights supporters for eventually backing Howard's position, Beazley has been solid on Papua from go to whoa.
When Indonesia pulled out its ambassador in protest against the granting of the temporary protection visas, Beazley went stronger than the Howard Government, describing it as an over-reaction and a miscalculation. Beazley and Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd have steadfastly adhered to Howard's steely warning to Papuans that they are Indonesians and will be treated as such.
Beazley, Rudd and Opposition homeland security spokesman Arch Bevis have tried to win political points on policy implementation, but not the underlying principle. Beazley has called for a greater diplomatic effort and Bevis has pushed the need for a coastguard to intercept illegal entrants he says could include people smugglers, illegal fishermen, drug runners or terrorists. The latter's invocation of the fear of terrorists slipping in through illegal entrants has a distinct Tampa-like flavour.
So far, Labor's ranks have held and Beazley has not been subjected to any internal criticism, but this is likely to be stretched as the Howard legislation reaches the Senate.
Brown is declaring he'll oppose the new legislation, before seeing them, and has been successful in rebuilding Green support lost in Newspoll surveys in recent months as he attacks human rights abuses in China and Indonesia. The Labor Left is beginning to rumble over whether uranium mining will be widened and for Beazley the threat remains that such concern will spill over into a "free Papua" push of the same magnitude as for East Timor.
For Howard, the argument remains that human rights interests and good Australian-Indonesian relations go hand in hand: "People who are encouraging disaffection and insurrection in West Papua are not in the long term helping either those people or this country," he said.
All three leaders still have to convince a lot of people, and there remains the potential for Howard and Beazley to suffer as Left meets Right over Papua.
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----------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service