On President Joko Widodo’s State Visit to Australia
Indonesian President Joko Widodo delivered a speech to the Australian Parliament during his visit to Canberra on Monday, February 10, 2020. In this speech, he called on Australia to “continue to advocate the values of democracy, human rights, tolerance and diversity”.
President Widodo seemed to have glossed over the fact that under his own administration, these same values have not only gone ‘un-advocated’ by the Indonesian Government, but deliberately trampled on in every sense with the aggressions against West Papua as part of Indonesia’s policy of occupation.
Within the second half of 2019, 57 political prisoners across 7 cities in Indonesia , particularly in West Papua, had been charged with treason for joining mass actions against racism and political repression, claiming that the protesters were promoting chaos and disunity in the country.
Meanwhile in the central highlands of Papua, 243 civilian deaths have been recorded between the start of December 2018 to the January 2020 . Almost half of the numbers are very young children who died after their communities were forcibly displaced by Indonesia’s heavy military presence in the region conducting counter-insurgency operations. The casualties include newborns who were only a day old.
A security agreement between Indonesia and Australia known as the Lombok Treaty practically prohibits Australia from making a stance on these issues in the name of respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of Indonesia. This treaty provides justification for Australia to turn a blind eye on the human rights violations committed by the Indonesian Government, including the suppression of the West Papuans’ long-standing call for a genuine referendum, out of respect for Indonesia’s so-called territorial integrity.
On the other hand, both countries envision stronger partnerships in defence, counter-terrorism, and maritime security among other fields. This could only mean stronger backing for the Indonesian Army to enable it to continue its military aggression against Papuans and Indonesians exercising their rights in a supposedly democratic country.
The oppressive governments of Indonesia and Australia have maligned the concept of development cooperation to use against their own people who are fighting for genuine democracy and self-determination. But we say, Junk the Lombok Treaty! Free West Papua!