Foreign supporters of Papua separatism to be monitored

Kompas – September 9, 2003
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda (Tribune)
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda (Tribune)

Jakarta – Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda has stated that the government is continuing to monitor the possibility of support from a number of countries in the Asia Pacific region for a group of people in Papua who have ideas of Papuan independence, separating from the Republic of Indonesia. The government will ask countries which support Indonesia’s territorial integrity to be consistent in their positions.

“We must be realistic because on two out of three occasions in conferences of Asia Pacific countries at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), participating countries have repeatedly given support to our territorial integrity and sovereignty over Papua. However we will continue to monitor [the situation]”, explained Wirajuda.

According to Wirajuda, the support [for Indonesia] by countries in the Asia Pacific region who are members of PIF materialised in the release of the August 19 Declaration. In this declaration, countries in the Asia Pacific region explicitly referred to Indonesia as the authority which has sovereignty over Papua. Aside from this, these countries also reiterated their support for the complete and immediate implementation of special autonomy [in West Papua].

Indications of Vanuatu’s support in providing an opportunity for the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to open representative offices in the country were denied by Vanuatu’s foreign affairs department in late August.

“We are monitoring this issue and after we checked (there), for the existence of OPM, GAM or RMS (Maluku South Republic) representative offices in Vanuatu it was denied. Although there are representatives [of these movements] in Vanuatu, clearly it has not been admitted to. As long as there are representative in the country, we will take diplomatic action”, he said.

With regard to suspicions of Australia’s involvement in [supporting the separatist movement in] Papua, up until this time no evidence has been found. Formally and on several occasions, the Australian government has instead [given its] full support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity including over Papua.

“In relation to this suspicion, the Australian government has asked us [to provide them with] evidence if we find indications that that Australian non-government organisations are conducting pro-independence activities in Papua. If such evidence is found, the Australian government will take action”, explain Wirajuda.

Taking diplomatic steps

Meanwhile, the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that friendly countries have consistently done the right thing though statements supporting the sovereignty and integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

“This consistency should materialise in a position of not supporting any of the separatist [movements] on our country, either in Aceh or the OPM in Papua”, said Yudhoyono after presenting greetings from President Megawati Sukarnoputri at the opening of the general session of the 24th Asian Inter-Parliamentary Organization at the national parliamentary complex on Monday September 8.

In relation to reports that Vanuatu supports the separatist movement in Papua, Yudhoyono added that so far, in fact there is not complete information on the report.

According to information from the Indonesian minister of foreign affairs, officially Vanuatu has never given formal support to the OPM. “If it is actually true that Vanuatu formally and officially supports the OPM or GAM, as a sovereign nation, of course we will do something [about it]”, said Yudhoyono.

According to Yudhoyono, Indonesia will definitely take appropriate diplomatic steps if there are friendly countries which openly support separatist movements [in Indonesia]. “In concrete terms we will study [the facts] first. Of course the government will not be hasty [in its actions]”, said Yudhoyono. (B14/INU)

[Translated by James Balowski.]