INDONESIA DEMANDS AUSTRALIA APOLOGISE FOR GIVING ASYLUM TO THE PAPUANS THEY HAVE PERSECUTED
"DON'T INSULT US, DON'T TOY WITH US," THUNDERS INDONESIAN PRESIDENT
The Australian newspapers has published the results of a Newspoll that shows "76.7 per cent of respondents believed Papua should have the right to self-determination or independence.
"The poll....comes amid Indonesian anger towards Australia over the granting of visas to 42 Papuan refugees..."
"Only 5.5 per cent of Australians opposed self-determination for Papua, while 17.7 per cent said they did not have an opinion on the issue or did not know.
"Papuans are fighting for independence from Indonesia, saying that because they are Melanesian, their culture is completely different to that of the rest of the country.
"East Timor, a former Indonesian province, won independence after the intervention of the United Nations."Australian Prime Minister's Refusal To Apologise To Jakarta Infuriates Indonesians. Ambassador To Australia "Will Not Return..."
Last week, Prime Minister Howard announced that all asylum seekers who "arrive by boat" will not be allowed to stay on the Australian mainland while their claims for asylum are processed.
They were be shifted to detention centres on outlying islands. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone spun back a few years to revive the the myth of "queue jumpers", in a vain hope that such talk would please Jakarta.
The radical overhaul of immigration laws and guidelines has thrown the Liberal Party into chaos, with the Attorney General Philip Ruddock issuing firm instruction to rebel Liberals to cool it, and not cause any more trouble for Australia and Indonesia's fragile relationship.
But Howard's jellyfishing achieved little in calming down Indonesia. They're now demanding an apology from Australia and still want us to hand over the 43 asylum seekers from West Papua who now reside, at least temporarily, in Australia
Howard refuses to apologise, as he always does, and a diplomat is being sent to Jakarta to explain how the new immigration backflip will work.
The Indonesians aren't easily please, however. A top diplomat is not good enough. They want a government minister to head to Jakarta for the meetings.
A former diplomat, Tony Kevin, said the Australian government made a grave mistake in trying to appease Jakarta by overturning immigration policy : "This is all part of the humiliation of a deferential neighbour. The more deferential we are, the more humiliated we will be."
The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, who has been a long-term backer of Papuan independence, said : "The real concern here is that the Prime Minister will further back down to appease Jakarta."
But PM Howard claims everyone's got it wrong. "We haven't bent over backwards at all. We have made some changes. If they have the consequence of making a contribution to improving the bilateral relationship, well, that is a good thing."
Problem is, it made no difference at all. Jakarta is still angry, and Australia has lost 'face' in the region. We are now seen as weak and vulnerable.
The Australian is also running a hammer-hard editorial today that states :
"Australia's relations with Indonesia are at their lowest ebb since East Timor. The granting of temporary protection visas to 42 asylum seekers from Papua has outraged the central government in Jakarta, which fears that this is the first step towards an Australian-led push for independence for the restive province.
"Despite the assurances of the Howard Government, which radically re-wrote Australian refugee policy in an attempt to assuage Jakarta's concerns, on Monday Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivered a blistering speech criticising Australia's actions. Dr Yudhoyono demanded 'concrete proof' that Australia respects Indonesia's territorial integrity, saying, 'Don't insult us, don't toy with us and don't deny us justice'.
"....the best way for Jakarta to eliminate the Papuan refugee problem would be to improve conditions in their eastern-most province. Jakarta could go a long way towards ameliorating many of the Papuans' grievances. Curtailing their transmigration program, which imports huge numbers of Javanese Muslims into a region that is Melanesian and Christian, as well as giving locals a bigger share of the proceeds from Papua's massive Freeport copper and gold mine, would be a good start."
The Indonesian President has announced he may need to "review" Indonesia's relationship with Australia, in light of the diplomatic turmoil of the past few days.
INDONESIA URGED TO RESOLVE PAPUA PROBLEMS NOW, NOT LATER
From The Jakarta Post : "A prestigious American think tank is urging the Indonesian government to make use of a "window of opportunity" to resolve unrest in Papua, and also calls on the international community to help expedite the process.
"The next two years are a critical period in which the government and Papuans should embark on bold initiatives toward peace, before the 2009 presidential and legislative elections begin looming...Within Papua, conditions are also ripe for a solution...The Papuan public has appeared willing to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt".
"Failure to take advantage of the current window of opportunity will prolong the suffering of the Papuan people, rendering a peaceful resolution of the conflict increasingly unlikely," it said.