20.4 C
Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Incarcerated in West Papua, my son endured a six-month ordeal

Latest News

Tweed Council to write to government for more housing support

With a shortage of affordable housing in most areas of the Far North Coast, it is not surprising that Tweed is also feeling the pinch and Council has declared a housing emergency in the area owing to a lack of availability and affordability.

Other News

They will not be forgotten…

In the wake of the pandemic restrictions, ANZAC Day will be commemorated in a COVID safe fashion and some...

You Donne good

Liz Levy, Suffolk Park I’d like to thank whoever decided to reprint John Donne’s beautiful poem ‘No Man is an Island’...

Understand climate?

Peter Olson, Goonengerry Have you noticed it getting a bit chilly at night recently? Do you think we will have a...

Augmented Reality gives local art exhibition a high-tech twist

A Byron Bay art gallery is seeking to bring paintings to life in its new exhibition, by making Augmented Reality technology part of the experience.

No accountability for proven police misconduct

On Australia Day in 1998, I was the legal observer for the ‘Nude Ain’t Rude’ rally at Belongil Beach.

Tony Barry, Ben Chifley and FD’s Four Freedoms

Local actor-vist, Tony Barry, has taken on a lot since he moved to the Northern Rivers, and though cancer took one of his legs, Tony still manages to put in the hard yards for social, environmental and human rights causes.

Saul Dalton, second from right, and friends.
Saul Dalton, second from right, and friends.

Susan Skyvington

Before gaining independence in 1999, East Timor endured 24 years of brutal suffering under Indonesian occupation. Are we aware, do we care that this is today being repeated in West Papua?

Just 200km from Australia, the western half of New Guinea island, formerly Irian Jaya, West Papua also wants freedom from Indonesia, but is being violently oppressed.

My son Saul Dalton was detained for six months in this remote province, inadvertently caught up in both independence struggles.

A a young graduate, Saul went as a UN-sponsored witness to the referendum in East Timor. Proud of him for his social conscience, unusual among his materialistic Gen X cohort, I was also concerned. Massacre was predicted if the vote went against Indonesia retaining East Timor.

Bloodbath

A violent bloodbath did ensue. Saul hopped onto an inter-island ferry to escape trouble. Or so he thought. Ten days later he landed up in Irian Jaya. Out of the frying pan into the fire. John Howard had just sent Australian-led troops into Timor to quell the slaughter.

Indonesia hated Australia for this intervention, for their loss of face. Saul was arrested on boarding a short flight back to Darwin. At midnight, driven into dark remote jungle, he was sure this was where his life would end.

Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas gloated next day to his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer at a New York UN meeting: ‘We are holding one of your countrymen’.

I went to try to get him out. From Byron paradise plunged into Papua hell. I was told, ‘We do not like your country, we will not help your son. We have photographed him in Darwin wearing a Falintil [the ET resistance movement] t-shirt demonstrating against the Republic of Indonesia.’

My naive plea, ‘But we were all supporting East Timor,’ did not help.

Alone, defended only by a police-appointed non-English-speaking lawyer, Saul was put through a drawn-out trial on charges of misusing his visa (endorsed by the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin with ‘Pro-UNAMET’, to assist in the UN mission to East Timor) for espionage, for trying to wrest this province from the Republic of Indonesia – sent moreover by the Australian government!

The Morning Star flag designed by Markus Wonggor Kaisiepo in 1961 has become a symbol of the independence movement.
The Morning Star flag designed by Markus Wonggor Kaisiepo in 1961 has become a symbol of the independence movement.

Payback

The Papuan prosecutor told me, ‘I know your son has done nothing. I am being asked to bring these false charges against him as a payback to Australia’. Young Melky Huka, who had helped Saul, died suddenly, mysteriously.

Eventually my son was released. A case of straying into the wrong place at the wrong time. They had not caught a big spymaster, just small fry. Face had been saved.

We were asked to write a statement to General Siagian, head of armed forces of Irian Jaya, to never speak out against the Republic of Indonesia.

Through our long ordeal, the legacy of which is PTSD, we learned about this most remote, secret, sinister place, of its exploited natural beauty and rich resources, its brave, gentle freedom-loving people. I have met human rights lawyers and advocates, tribal and church leaders, musicians, artists – all have lost loved ones, land, and livelihood. But not their spirit.

Saul was held near giant US-owned Freeport, the world’s largest gold and third largest copper mine (200,000 tons of copper ore per day). Freeport’s four per cent royalty is the single largest contribution to Indonesia’s GNP.

It pays millions of dollars to Kopassus, the ‘elite’ Indonesian military unit, to provide security to the mine.

Destruction

That is also why Saul was arrested: no-one is meant to go there, to reveal what is happening in this last innocent Shangri-la being brutally raped behind closed doors.

I witnessed a kilometres-wide swathe of mining waste descending from the glacier-topped mountain of gold to the sea, decimating rainforest, rivers and villages along its path. Papua’s rainforest, home of exotic birds of paradise, is being destroyed.

In 2004 Yale Law School concluded that genocide is occurring, half a million of West Papua’s people massacred since Indonesia appropriated it in 1969. Australia is complicit in turning a blind eye, and our taxes are paying for Kopassus training.

• Free West Papua activism

An Australian site for human rights in West Papua is at freewestpapua.com.au.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

2 COMMENTS

  1. the scale of the destruction going on in West Papua and Papua New Guinea is unbelievable … we have turned our back on the whole island and let the vampires the life out of it, and that is exactly what is going on..military owned corporations are running amuck over there, non both sides of the stupid iinsignificant border … most of it is being carried out by muslim workers, North & South Korean, Chinese and Malaysian funding and infrastructure with a whole web of company fronts, like “Korindo”, “Rimbunan Hijau” and their corporate. the point is Australians are the market for most of the products companies like Nortruss, Goodman Fielder, and cVegetable oil 477,471) they are laughing all the way to the bank..Australia is a sad joke, we do nothing to stop the destruction, we contribute by buying food products with palm oil, next we will be buying their white rice which is planned to be grown on a massive scale in PNG & West Papua by 2017 buying food products with palm oil, next we will be buying their Halal beef grown in West Papua, when all the forest is gone…

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Simon Richardson steps down as Byron Shire Mayor

In an eventful day for Byron Shire Council, pot-stirrer Fast Buck$ was ejected from the council chambers yesterday and later Cr Simon Richardson announced that he will be stepping down as mayor from the end of next week.

Pay parking for Lennox Head?

Yesterday's Ballina Shire Council meeting saw councillors raise the spectre of paid parking at Lennox Head, and possibly elsewhere in the shire.

They will not be forgotten…

In the wake of the pandemic restrictions, ANZAC Day will be commemorated in a COVID safe fashion and some areas will ask residents to...

East Ballina Lions desperately needs new members

East Ballina Lions Club has given over thirty years of service to numerous community programs and initiatives, but if it doesn't get more members soon, it will have to close.