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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Our good neighbours

As the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) start to withdraw from Aceh after the recent supposed peace deal, questions remain as to the new destination for the TNI. Could it be West Papua, asks blogger Jakartass? The Australian Democrats have released a statement warning about the possibility of massacres and the likelihood of TNI forces causing racial and national tensions. Senator Natasha Stott Despoja says:

"The Australian Government must call upon Indonesia to immediately withdraw additional troops from West Papua. During a situation like this, the allegations regarding a pro-Jakarta lobby within the Australian Intelligence services and concern over intelligence warnings prior to the East Timor massacre are deeply disturbing. We must not allow another East Timor to develop on our doorstep. We have the advance warning, there will be no excuse if this is allowed to happen."


Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

We, and the Dems, are right to be fearful. Things change very slowly in Indonesia, and as far as Canberra is concerned the need for change in the human rights sphere is anything but urgent.

A telling example is the current investigation and trial concerning the death of Munir Said Thalib last year. It's going to be a whitewash, without a doubt. A carbon copy of what happened after the rape of Dili - and the killing of Theys Eluay.

(I had a little rant about this here if you are interested:

Time and time again the TNI and the Indonesian govt (of whatever "political stripe") demonstrates a disregard for human rights and an unwillingness to pursue justice even when faced with international "pressure" and overwhelming evidence.

Canberra's warm relations with Jakarta are disgraceful. Surely a good neighbour has a responsibility to tap their "friend" on the shoulder when they are out of line. What is Canberra afraid of? Why not try punching above our weight wearing moral boxing gloves? It can't hurt. And the electorate has shown - via Timur - that it will support a principled stand. What is wrong with our policy-makers?

As always, I'll be keeping an ear out for Max Lane's thoughts on this and will drop you a line when I come across them.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 10:57:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks for this, I've been watching the Munir trial with interest and notice SBS Dateline has a feature piece on it next Wednesday.
In the last decades, Australia has taken a very 'pragmatic' view of Indo. Let's not forget - as discussed in Clinton Fernandes book Reluctant Saviour - that Howard only went into Timor after massive public protests and pressure, not because he called about the Timorese people.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:02:00 am  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Indeed. I would actually go further than what you say here, DBO ("disregard for human rights and an unwillingness to pursue justice"). I would actually go as far to say that TNI has a sound track record in manufacturing conflict to shore up their position, and profiting from conflict.

We must also not forget that the peace deal for Aceh does not in itself guarantee peace. We have seen this before with the peace agreement in December 2002, which collapsed a mere five months later.

I have not yet had the opportunity to review the details of the peace deal, but I hope if calls for significant international monitoring and also disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programs for former combatants. We must continue to put pressure on Indonesia to make sure the peace deal works.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 2:16:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Vasco, well stated, and I concur. We should not beat around the bush, which perhaps I was doing.

Slightly off topic (maybe) - when I studied Indonesian history a couple of years ago I was introduced to the work of Damien Kingsbury, widely considered an authority on Indonesian politics. I learned recently that, after he seemed to drop of the radar for a little while, he is now a spokesperson for GAM. My respect has redoubled.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 2:49:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Kingsbury made some pointed comments recently about Australia's racism surrounding the Corby trial.
Now, can somebody explain why I seem to be getting spam commentators on this blog recently?

Thursday, August 11, 2005 2:54:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Re Spam - just saw them. Don't know how that works. Can you get rid of them?

Thursday, August 11, 2005 3:06:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Er... Damien is a close friend of my former neighbours'. I have spent a few afternoons and drunken nights talking to him. And his dog Sprocket and mine got along famously. And yeah, he is even more amazing in real life.

He is an academic too, so that part of his life keeps him busy. He's been giving a few public lectures in Melbourne recently too.

And DBO, aren't we having a role reversal today? I am usually the one tip toeing around...

Thursday, August 11, 2005 3:18:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Yep, will delete the spam (I think!) but it's odd and rather annoying.... Just when we thought spam was under control...

Thursday, August 11, 2005 3:22:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Vasco, I now believe that you are an imaginary character.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 4:13:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

Some day, I hope that a quarter of a billion Indonesians might tell their government what it should not do, rather than a government of a country with less than one tenth the population.

But until then, I'm firmly in favour of telling Indonesia that massacring is bad.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:26:00 pm  
Blogger Jakartass said...

Vasco Pyjama says above that "significant international monitoring" of the Aceh peace deal is needed.

His prayers are answered here:

There will be 60, mainly from the EU I believe, following the signing of the Peace Pact next Monday and a further 140 will follow ~ assuming you believe everything you read in the papers, that is.

Oh, and ta for the link A.L.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 7:05:00 pm  
Blogger IndCoup said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 8:12:00 pm  
Blogger IndCoup said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 8:14:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

So, Indcoup, care to refer to "Coalition" troops in Iraq who torture and kill as "savages"?
I'm presuming your insights are tongue in cheek.
If not, mmm...

Thursday, August 11, 2005 8:30:00 pm  

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