Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wrong example

A intervention by by Teguh Santoso(a lecturer at Indonesia Islam University) on Western Sahara before the United Nations' Fourth Committee, avoids mentioning the most relevant Indonesian experience. Santoso told the committee (as summarized by the UN) that that "the dispute about Western Sahara was quite similar to what Indonesia had experienced in the last decade," without acknowledging that  Indonesia's December 1975 illegal invasion and occupation of East Timor, which is exactly parallel to Morocco's illegal invasion of Western Sahara.

Instead he refers to what he calls "a similar situation," which Indonesia had solved "peacefully through democratic circumstances. As a result, Aceh and Papua enjoyed special autonomy status. Only genuine democracy could solve the Western Sahara dispute, and the [Morocco's unilateral] special autonomy plan was an outcome of the high degree of democracy in Morocco."

However, a truly democratic plan would allow the Saharawi to exercise their right to self-determination. A free and fair vote under UN-supervision would allow them the choice of say autonomy under Morocco or independence. Morocco (with the diplomatic and other support of its close allies France and the U.S.) has done everything it can to undermine U.N. resolutions and plans for a vote. 

For many years, Indonesia did the same (also with U.S. support) to East Timor. Belatedly , the East Timorese people exercised their right to self-determination in 1999. In the face of threats of retaliation that were soon realized, they expressed their choice of independence.

As we wrote in 2009 in a submission to the Fourth Committee:

In doing so, the people of Timor-Leste exercised their inalienable right and expressed their "passionate yearning for freedom" described by the UN General Assembly nearly 50 years ago in its 1960 declaration (1514 (XV)) on decolonization, which unambiguously declared that "all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine political status…"

We added: 
It should embarrass this institution – and all of you as representatives of United Nations member states – that this committee must continue to discuss the situation of Western Sahara. The discussion should have ended long ago, and its people should have exercised their right to self-determination.