Fifty years on, Australia's Papua policy is still failing

28 Sep 2012

Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono isn’t getting the right kind of encouragement to create a long-term solution, writes Richard Chauvel in Inside Story

“Yep. The world is behind Indonesia now. It means they all compromise with Indonesia to kill West Papua.” Victor Yeimo, the chair of the West Papua National Committee, was describing to journalists Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main how Papuans are losing their struggle because Indonesia has so effectively deflected international attention from the conflict. The two Australians had gone undercover in Papua for ABC TV’s 7.30 and discovered what they called “a police state operating with impunity.”

Despite the brevity of the visit and the fact that Cooper and Main were not able to travel outside the provincial capital of Jayapura, the documentary gave an insight into not only how the Indonesian security forces have been able to maintain their physical control, but also why the government has not been able to resolve the conflict. Indeed, the means by which Indonesia sustains its control in Papua are among the major factors that help explain why successive Indonesian governments have failed to find a viable solution. The criminalisation of peaceful political activity, state violence against pro-independence activists and human rights abuses not only sustain Indonesian control but also fuel Papuan antagonism towards Indonesia…

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Above: West Papua National Committee chair, Victor Yeimo, on ABC TV’s 7.30. Photo: ABC TV

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