Carr backs Jakarta on Freedom Flotilla, accuses activists of spreading lies

Kompas Newspaper – August 21, 2013
West Papuan Freedom Flotilla (Popular Resistance)
West Papuan Freedom Flotilla (Popular Resistance)

Jakarta – The Australian government does not have the authority to stop its citizen from sailing out of Australian ports as long as it is legal. However Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr confirmed that the Indonesian government has the authority to deal with the matter if the ships enter Indonesia illegally.

This was clarified by Carr when speaking with Kompas on Tuesday August 20, in response to the sailing of the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla. Quoting from the Guardian newspaper, a number of activists are currently sailing towards Merauke, West Papua, as part of their campaign opposing violence against indigenous Papuans, which they claim are frequently committed by Indonesian security forces.

“If they violate Indonesian regulations, they will also have to face Indonesian legal regulations and their enforcement. They must face the consequences. We have no objection to the enforcement of legal regulations in Indonesia”, said Carr. To the activists concerned, Carr said that tax payers in Australian will not support their actions if they violate the laws of another country.

The issue was also discussed by Carr at a bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa after the to took part in a “Irregular Movement of Persons” conference in Jakarta. “Foreign Minister Marty welcomed my statement and position”, said Carr.

In a press statement, Carr also warned activists who are citizens of his country that they would be subject to a sentence of five-years jail if they take the risk of violating Indonesian immigration regulations because they will be entering Indonesian territory without permission.

The Australian foreign minister also accused the activists of spreading gross lies as if the agenda of Papuan independence has already become an international issue.

The ships carrying 20 activist reportedly departed from a port in Cairns in the Australian state of Queensland on August 17. They are expected to reach Indonesian territory within the next three weeks.

Speaking separately, Natalegawa acknowledged that Carr had raised the issue at the bilateral meeting. The Indonesian government is simply taking a position of listening to Australia’s explanations of the matter and its commitment to Indonesia’s sovereignty and does not feel the need to issue a statement in relation to the case.

“We don’t wish to respond to the behaviour of a certain group who are simply seeking publicity and do not know for sure what will happen in Papua”, said Natalegawa.

Late last week, Special Presidential Staff Member for International Relations, Teuku Faizasyah, said that the government through the foreign minister had warned Australian representatives to pay attention to the legal aspects and permits that are in effect when entering the sovereign territory of another country.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Justice and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto has stated that the Australian activists’ ship is not sailing to Papua but to Papua New Guinea. (WHY/DWA)

[Isu Papua: Australia Takkan Bela Aktivisnya – Kompas. Rabu, 21 Agustus 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]