Negative propaganda of Papua - Solomon Star News

Negative propaganda of Papua

14 July 2016

BRUSSELS, (THE JAKARTA POST) - Deception and lies have been commonly practiced to promote political interests by bad politicians.

Emele Duituturaga, executive director of the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs, recently claimed she had submitted a report on the human rights situation in Papua directly to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the margins of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May.

Duituturaga intends to put Indonesia under pressure for alleged human rights violations in Papua and give support to Papuan separatist aspirations.

Too bad, the Indonesian permanent representative in New York checked the report with Ban’s office, which his spokesperson denied. Two small Pacific island countries, namely Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, have expressed their support for Papuan separatist aspirations.

These nations have continued to flip-flop in their attitude on Indonesia with current governments in Port Vila and Honiara arguably taking a more hostile stance toward Jakarta. Domestic politics, idiosyncratic factors and personal ambitions may explain this flip-flopping.

Their stance supporting separatist movements in a neighboring country is obviously not in line with the principles of friendly relations among states. But Jakarta remains calm and rational and continues to engage them positively by offering capacity building assistance and disaster management cooperation.

Three recent joint attempts by Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to champion more international support on Papuan separatism have clearly failed.

First, during the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s (MSG) foreign ministers meeting in Lautoka, Fiji, in June, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands were not able to divide the MSG and Indonesia.

Instead the meeting aired a positive tone and was appreciative of Indonesia’s engagement as an MSG associate member.

Furthermore, recognizing Indonesia’s position that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) is a separatist group, the meeting agreed to delay taking a decision on ULMWP’s application to become a full MSG member and instead prioritized defining clear criteria for membership.

Hence, Indonesia was again successful this year in blocking Vanuatu and the Solomon Island’s motion to promote the ULMWP status.

The MSG also accepted Indonesia’s invitation to visit our Melanesian-dominated provinces to gain a better understanding of developmental progress in those provinces.

Second, during the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 22, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands launched a verbal attack against Indonesia and its alleged human rights abuses in Papua, expressing “deepest concerns” on the “deteriorating” and “eroding” human rights situation in the region. Such insinuations are not factual.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has personally instructed relevant government agencies to take steps to settle past human rights abuses, including those related to Papua and to put in place measures to prevent future occurrences.

The Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan has also set up an integrated team that includes the National Commission on Human Rights. Papua and West Papua enjoy wide-ranging autonomy and democracy, as guaranteed by national laws.

Provincial and local governments are directly elected by and headed and administered by Papuans. The budgets per capita in the two provinces are among the highest in Indonesia. Rather than lecturing others, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands should focus more on their own shortcomings such as corruption, human trafficking, harsh punishments against children and violence against women.

Third, Vanuatu recently attempted to sell the idea of a “Papua dossier” in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

Yet the recent meeting of ACP ambassadors in Brussels on June 30 did not entertain Vanuatu’s idea.

Indonesian diplomats in Brussels received strong support from many ACP countries whose representatives said they would not allow the ACP to be distracted by Vanuatu to discuss a sub-regional or even domestic issue.

Thus the ACP will stick to its mandate: to solidify economic and developmental cooperation among its members as well as cooperation with the European Union.

The moves played out by countries like Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as well as the ULMWP, demonstrate “negative” politicization of Papua.

They describe Indonesia as unwilling and unable to improve the situation in Papua. Their propaganda reiterates a revisited history of Papua, lack of development, human rights abuses, health issues and environmental degradation.

Unfortunately, they have no qualms to resort to deception and cynicism to sustain the image of Indonesian incompetence. Other tricks include using footage engineered to give false reports of violence against Papuans.

There is evidence that their depicted tortured victims are Indonesian soldiers and officers attacked by separatist groups in various areas of Papua.

Indonesia should not play along with negative politicization of Papua. Indonesia should instead enhance international trust and confidence in the way it achieves and promotes welfare for its citizens in Papua.

Under the Jokowi administration, Indonesia is sincerely and actively making concrete efforts to improve Papua through a holistic approach in special autonomy and development, economic empowerment, education, health, infrastructure, law and human rights.

Finally, to cite Abraham Lincoln, “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how […] and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

The writer is a diplomat at the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels. The views expressed are his own.

By Allessandro Bernama


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The writer is a diplomat at the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels. The views expressed are his own.