Friday, 26 August 2011

Cablegate highlights that U.S. distain of West Papua is undiminished after 40 years

This disgraceful cable from the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, is something I truly hoped I would not see: contemporary documents showing that U.S. indifference to Papua is as strong as ever.  I had to wade through 400 pages of declassified documents for my university dissertation on West Papua; page after page of racist, ignorant, scheming betrayal of an entire people.  To fill people in on the sordid tale, a mere two weeks after gaining independence from the Dutch, West Papua was invaded by Indonesia under the pretext of rescuing them of subversive minorities. It was an invasion sanctioned by a United States desperate to keep hold of a key, non-communist country in a highly volatile area of the world.  The reason? Well, it does kind of look like it's all part of the same place, I mean, it's just one massive archipelago right? Oh, and it has the worlds largest copper mine in the world...

Here are some excerpts from the cable:

"The group's focus on "self-determination" basically makes their efforts a non-starter with the GOI. Moreover, the exiles' almost exclusive focus on Papua's legal status highlights a growing rift with activists inside Papua,who are considerably more moderate."

The Act of Free Choice was the deeply ironic name given to the UN ratified sham election in 1969. 1050 hand-picked (by Indonesia, obviously) Papuans voted unanimously to give up their hard won flag, their fledging independence, and become a province of Indonesia.  The declassified documents make clear that everybody knew this was a sham; that near every Papuan despised the Indonesians that had been subsidised to colonise their land afresh; even that there was a high likelihood of human rights abuses.  Yet they have the temerity to ask for self-determination? Pfff!

"WPNCL spokesperson Paula Makabory asserted to poloff in a recent telephone conversation that numerous Papuans within Indonesia supported the coalition. She added, however, that she could not provide more details out of "fear" for their safety."

Nice quotation marks asshole.

"The new group's grievances are not new."

No shit?

"The WPNCL's approach basically rests on the claim that Indonesia illegally absorbed Papua (then Dutch New Guinea) through the 1969 UN-supervised Act of Free Choice."

Their "claim", as you call it, can be verified by the person you are writing to at the State department if you wish, or you could google it? This though is the killer paragraph...

"WPNCL statements also regurgitate many of the dramatic but vague claims that are the stock in trade of Papuan independence supporters. These include accusations of genocide, gross human rights violations and massive environmental destruction purportedly committed by Indonesians."

Ouch. Don't you just hate hearing the same old stock-in-trade accusations of genocide? It all gets so boring doesn't it? I also like the way that he says, "purportedly committed by Indonesians", as though the companies committing the destruction weren't American and British.

"Ronald Tapilatu, an advisor to Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu,[said] it would... undercut the efforts of both national and provincial leaders to implement Papua's Special Autonomy agreement with Jakarta."

This would be the Special Autonomy Agreement introduced in 2002 that has done next to nothing in nearly 10 years? 

This next I am particularly pissed off about, and not just because it is the Catholic Church standing up for oppressors... again. Here are the thoughts of Budi Hernawan, Director of the Jayapura Diocese Peace and Justice Secretariat (SKP)...

"The WPNCL's activities could hamper the work of human rights advocates in the province. WPNCL public statements combined claims about alleged human rights violations in Papua with demands for political independence. This, according to Hernawan, made it more difficult for human rights defenders to convince Indonesian authorities that they were only concerned with human rights and did not have a position on Papua's political status. "We can only work if we are seen as above politics," he said"

So, Papuans should learn to stop worrying about self-determination, even though it is the only logical response to the human rights abuses, political imprisonment and genocide, just so that the people investigating these crimes can be taken seriously by an oppressive regime that has no interest in listening to them anyway.

These concerns were not for the likes of America back in 1969, and sadly neither are they now.  It has been over 40 years since the Act of Free Choice, 40 years of genocide, abuse, environmental devastation viewable from near space and absolutely no moral evolution for the U.S. government.  They have morally stagnated; no better now than a generation ago, just PR savvy.

Papuans deserve freedom. Someday they shall have it.

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