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The Forum > Article Comments > Australia cannot ignore rights abuses in West Papua > Comments

Australia cannot ignore rights abuses in West Papua : Comments

By Rachael Bongiorno, published 12/3/2013

West Papauns are seeking an end to the human rights abuses, an end to Indonesia's illegal occupation and an opening up of the province to foreign scrutiny.

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"despite Wenda's calls for an end to Indonesia's illegal occupation "

This raises the interesting question what constitutes, or could constitute legal occupation of a territory by a State, and the underlying question what underlies State sovereignty.

For example, what makes the Australian government's occupation of Australia legal? Captain Cook sailed up the side of a whole continent and declared it belongs to his royal master, while his letters of instruction granted him no such authority? The ratification of his act by later acts of the British government? Yet how so? What happened to the pre-existing ownership rights? And how could one group have claimed such sovereignty as against another.

For another example, talk of Western Australian secession has long met with the reply that such is "illegal". Really? How could a majority vote in 1900, of adult white males in a population of three million, bind their far more numerous successors today? And why should they?

Australia constantly says it recognises the right of self-determination of peoples, and supported the secession of East Timor and Kosovo I think. But who determines the decision-making collectivity, and why should it be that one? Why do some people have a superior right to exercise ownership rights over others - for what else is sovereignty but a claim of a right to compel obedience?

So yes, the people West Papua should be freed from compulsory obeidence to their Indonesian political overlords - but why should West Papuan political overlords be in any better position?
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 8:12:54 AM
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While blaming Australia is a useful tactic in promoting a humanitarian cause (every cause?)...

West Papua was and is a case of Indonesian neo-colonialism and Indonesia's (particularly the Javanese) wilful ignorance of human rights.
Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 10:36:55 AM
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West Papua is a case of United Nations colonialism and corruption.

Sovereignty is the basic concept of the United Nations Charter. Since 1945 there has been increasing acceptance of the Charter as membership spreads, for example the UN Charter became law in the US and Australia in 1945. The concept is simple, sovereignty belongs to the people who have the option of investing their sovereignty into a nation state such as the Americans did in 1776 and the Australians did from 1890 to 1901.

Non-self-governing territories like West Papua are dealt with in Chapter XI, XII, and XIII of the UN Charter. Until 1962 the Netherlands was subject to Chapter XI for the treatment of the colony when the UN approved an agreement making the UN subject to Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter for West Papua.

West Papua is what is called a "trust territory".
All trust territories remain a trust territory until they become a member of the United Nations, at which time article 78 of the Charter says trusteeship ends.

Trouble is, the UN accepted a $100m bribe, US help with a $200m bond scheme while the US was blackmailing the Netherlands into the 1962 agreement. The UN trusteeship is meant to protect human rights, but in this case the US businessmen (Robert Lovett and Rockefellers) wanted Indonesian occupation so they could get a cheap mining license.

By time of a deadline in the 1962 agreement for the UN to recognise the Papuan people's sovereignty, the Kennedys were dead and Nixon helped keep journalists out of West Papua while the Indonesians implemented what they called "act of free choice" (I hold a gun at your head, and you have free choice to say yes or no to me)

What the UN did to try and coverup the trusteeship was make a self-serving resolution claiming the Secretary General has completed his part under the 1962 agreement. Reuters said West Papua was part of Indonesia, and for 44 years the newspapers have been repeating the Reuters claim without checking the facts. You can read about it at http://colonyWestPapua.info
Posted by Daeron, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 3:51:20 PM
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Rachael, Thank you for your article but you have fallen for layer-3 of the lies.

Lie to public: West Papuans voted to be part of Indonesia
Lie to UN: Indonesia invaded and the 1962 agreement will save world peace
Lie to Kennedy: It is a Cold-war sacrifice

Truth, the cold war architect Robert Lovett was a director of the US mining company that wanted Papua's wealth. It was always about the gold and copper. Moscow supported the US plan because it wanted trade with Indonesia. But we need focus, and its a simple question is West Papua a trust territory?

The UN membership tried to coverup the trusteeship in 1969 because everyone wanted trade with Indonesia and the US. But as a Security Council member Australia has a legal duty to ask if West Papua is a trust territory.

What can the media do? Ask "is West Papua a trust territory?"
What can lawyers like Geoffrey Robertson, John Dowd, and Jennifer Robinson do? Talk to the media about whether West Papua seems to be a trust territory.

It wasn't public pressure that freed East Timor, it was the International Court of Justice that in 1995 said East Timor is a non-self-governing territory entitled to self-determination. That stopped Australia and the US from saying East Timor was a sovereign part of Indonesia, then Norway awarded the Peace prize to Horta and Below; so the oil company decided it had to switch sides from Indonesia to the East Timorese. Jakarta released East Timor because the oil company and its allies told Jakarta it had to. That's why the oil company is still there.

With media asking if West Papua is a trust territory, one of the UN members will finally do the right thing and ask that question at the Security Council or the General Assembly.
Posted by Daeron, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 4:42:46 PM
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for a quarter of a century Australia kept ignoring what was happening in East Timor - until that UN decision and the referendum where people risked their lives to vote for freedom. Australia is now ignoring West Papua but eventually the same thing will happen but a great many people will have perished by then.

Perhaps if Australia were a bit more pro-active and stood up more for those small 'non-self governing' places, but it's probably waiting for the right time, the right place and the right people to make up its mind before it finally acts in its own self-interest.
Posted by SHRODE, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 5:02:23 PM
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West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia, as acknowledged by UN and the whole international community. Indonesia has stronger legal claim over Papua compared to the criminal white occupation over Australia. There were never any genocide in Papua, instead the native Papuan pop tripled from 500,000 in 1963 to 1.5 million today (plus 1.8 million non-Papuan migrants). Indonesia will never allow separatism to succeed, hence Papua will forever remain a part of Indonesia.

East Timor can became independent only because Indonesian President Habibie unexpectedly and unilaterally decided to give referendum in 1999, as such separatism can only succeed if it was a gift from Indonesian govt. Today, no Indonesian president will ever allow such mistake to be repeated.
Posted by Proud to be Indonesian, Tuesday, 12 March 2013 5:16:12 PM
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