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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Timor, West Papua and what he said they said

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Duncan Dey, Mullumbimby

Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1975, after Portugal abandoned its global colonies under a new (socialist) regime.

East Timor campaigned for independence for 25 years and Indonesia ran a referendum on Timor Leste, late in 1999, to test the idea.

They warned East Timor that if it voted to leave Indonesia, all hell would break loose.

The proud East Timorese voted to leave and their country was decimated.

Australia, bless us, went to the rescue, but only after a few days of detente with the Indonesian government.

I believe a deal was struck, that Australia could march into Timor Leste, but had to never do that again, in any of Indonesia’s other claims. That arrangement was formalised and reinforced through the Lombok Treaty, signed between Australia and Indonesia in 2006.

An interview with our then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on ABC’s morning radio programme AM on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 (8.27am) went as follows;

Reporter Geoff Thompson said, ‘Each country is also now committed, in writing to not supporting or participating in activities which threaten the other’s stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity. And that includes not allowing each other’s territory to be used by groups encouraging separatism.’

Downer agreed that providing money or logistical support to separatist groups in Papua would constitute support.

Downer said, ‘We haven’t been aiding and abetting secessionist movements, but I think this will provide the greater confidence to people, in particular in Indonesia, who might be concerned that the Australian Government might do that. But that isn’t to detract from freedom of speech and freedom of expression of people in Australia.’

Thompson said, ‘Neither minister would be drawn on what action was expected to be taken against any non-government organisations which provide money or logistical support to Papuan separatists.’

This background goes towards explaining why Australia will never again object to what Indonesia does on ‘its’ territory including West Papua.

I understand Papua and West Papua were closed to foreigners since September by General Wiranto, who played a significant role in facilitating severe human rights violations by the Indonesian army and Jakarta-backed militias, during Indonesia’s withdrawal from Timor Leste (info on that role quoted from Wikipedia).

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