Thursday, January 31, 2013

Response to Sidney Jones' argument to apply Indonesia's anti-terrorism law in West Papua

Excerpts from Ed McWilliams responds to Sidney Jones' argument to apply Indonesia's anti-terrorism law in West Papua

"In a December 5, 2012 lecture at Stanford University's International Policy Studies program (revised January 22, 2013), the respected Southeast Asia analyst Sidney Jones discussed the Indonesian government's unwillingness, thus far, to categorize the Papuan "ethno-nationalists/separatists" as "terrorists." 

Jones summarily credits recent violent acts in West Papua to the "ethno-nationalists and separatists." This is surprising insofar as Jones is a highly regarded observer of the Indonesian political scene with a deep human rights background. She knows, or should know, that the authors of violence in the Indonesian archipelago -- especially violence with complex motives -- are never so clear cut as her lecture implies. This is especially true of West Papua where police-military rivalries over access to resources and sources of extortion monies is well known. Jones should know also that military, police and intelligence agencies, have long played the role of provocateur, orchestrating acts of violence which advance agendas that are invariably obscure

Jones also fails to acknowledge the reality, widely noted in international and local human rights circles, that the Indonesian government has long sought to smear peaceful dissent in West Papua as "separatist." Jakarta, through the aegis of a corrupt court system and often criminal state security forces, has repeatedly employed the "separatist" label to arrest and prosecute or detain peaceful political dissenters, such as those who display the Papuan morning star flag. Courts regularly resort to charges of treason that date to the Dutch colonial era and widely used by the Suharto dictatorship to intimidate dissidents. Jones' call for Indonesia to define "separatism" as "terrorism" would deepen Jakarta's targeting of peaceful dissent and the intimidation of Papuans generally.  

Employing the "terrorist" label against "ethno-nationalist and separatist" groups and individuals in West Papua could have direct legal implications for international solidarity movements. In the U.S., groups or individuals who advocate on behalf of groups designated by the U.S. government as "terrorists" are subject to criminal prosecution. 

Indonesia's 'anti-terror" Detachment 88
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