Siege Mentality

[I had drafted(!) a different post about Indonesia, but I will not put it up, as it is silly of me to expect anyone reading it to understand exactly how little respect I have for Indonesia. This is the tame version...]


What was it?

The attempted genocide in East Timor - the daughter of a friend was an aid-worker who witnessed 1st-hand the 1999 post-independence referendum "troubles", with Indonesian militia changing out of their uniforms, then going into Dili and elsewhere, killing, plundering and burning, then changing back into their uniforms and coming down to "investigate"? (Although the blame [link of limited time frame] may lie on both sides for atrocities...)

The still un-explained execution of Australian journalists in East Timor in 1975?

Religious oppression everywhere violently enforced by pro "Muslim mobs" ("Violence against religious freedom continued Sunday in West Java when a group of some 200 self-styled religious vigilantes forced Christians to close their church in Bogor." Jakarta Post 27/03/06) - 23 Christian churches closed in the last 2 years?

The beheading of three Christian schoolgirls last October?

The Indonesian's public support for the Bali Bombers, cheering, waving etc during their trial?

The Bali Bombing 2002?

The Bali Bombings 2005?

The continuation of the indoctrination of future terrorists in "pesentran" schools?

The oppression and even the public whipping of women?

The political oppression on Papua?

The general corruption of the Indonesian government? Indonesia comes in equal 137th in TI's Corruption Perception Index for 2005. The Balinese taxi drivers were bemoaning to E@L this week their opinion that nothing will improve in Indonesai while the police and government remain so corrupt.

The mad times of the anti-Chinese riots post-Soeharto?

The military dictatorship under Soeharto?

The Aceh Muslim seperatist troubles?

More recently the lack of appreciation for Australia being the world's most generous Tsunami Aid provider to Indonesia?

And probably a hundred other things that I can't think of right now. Scan back through the archives at Friskodude's site - Carl is sure to have tons of juicier links that E@L can come up with at a moment's aggreived notice.



but E@L's disrepect for Indonesia is closely matched by a personal sorrow and embarrassment at the gutlessness of successive Australian Governments to take a stand against Indonesia invading East Timor, (aka "faithfully backing Soeharto's incorporation of East Timor.")

All apparently to protect the good people of East Timor from communism - or was it to do with the oil-fields in the Timor Sea? Not to mention the complicity of Australian company Rio-Tinto in the Freeport mine in Papua...

Finally, with events of recent weeks, we see a bit of moral spine being shown by Australia. Three cheers. (Read an Indonesian opinion by clicking More...)


However, there are consequences.

E@L was due to visit to a Military Hospital in Jakarta for some non-essential work (getting some nice marketing images) next week, but due to the Indonesian reactions [accessible only for a limited time] to Australia granting temporary refugee status for people escaping from the political and religious repression in Papua [ditto], it was decided that it would be dangerous and perhaps inflammatory for him to so venture.

Two separate rallies involved several hundred chanting protesters massing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Protesters waved placards with slogans, including "Go to hell Australia, the devil needs you there!"


Actually, this Australian will not be going to hell (aka Jakarta) next week, but staying in limbo (aka Singapore) until he works out what to do with his life...



Is Papua a danger of becoming another E. Timor? (The Jakarta Post 29/03/06.)

Ahmad Qisa'i, Aligarah, India

The granting of emergency visas by the Australian government to 42 of the 43 Papuans seeking political asylum there has reopened the memory of East Timor's referendum. After faithfully backing Soeharto's incorporation of East Timor as part of Indonesia since 1976, Australia reversed its policy after Soeharto's fall in 1998.

A United Nations-sponsored referendum in East Timor one year later saw the majority of East Timorese opt to create their own independent state. Australia's change of stance angered many parties in Indonesia.

However, realizing the importance of building a better cooperation with its neighbors, all four of Soeharto's successors have tried to improve relations with the neighboring country. However, while many Indonesians thought the relationship was showing significant signs of improvement, the Australian government seemed to have thought of some short-term objectives. It granted visas to the Papuans seeking political asylum on the pretext of being harassed by the Indonesian government.

The decision resulted in an angry response from Indonesia, and the government recalled its ambassador to Australia in protest.

Australia's decision also seemed to strengthen allegations of the country's support for pro-independence movements in Papua. It is commonly believed in Jakarta that Australia, or Australian NGOs, has been very much involved in the freedom struggle in Papua.

Whatever the reasons given by the Australian government to counter the angry reaction from Jakarta, the damage has already been done.

On East Timor, Australia was long a supporter of its integration with Indonesia. For national security reasons at the height of the Cold War, Australia thought it was better for East Timor to be ruled by an American friendly country like Indonesia than to be controlled by a Communist state.

However, with the changing landscape in international politics and the continuing internal struggles in Indonesia in the late 1990s, Australia decided to reverse its policy on East Timor and support independence for East Timor.

Now, with the simmering situation in Papua in recent weeks, Australia's decision to grant visas to the Papuans seeking political asylum there seems to be like rubbing salt in the old wound. There is an indication of insensitivity on the part of the Australian government toward the delicate Papua problem.

The decision can be understood as an early warning for the Indonesian government to scrutinize and investigate the motives behind it. The Indonesian government should act immediately to avoid a repetition of the East Timor tragedy. The current government should realize that there must be no East Timor, Part II. If the government can successfully and peacefully end the conflict in Aceh, why should there be any doubts as to the government's ability to resolve the problem in Papua peacefully as well?

As for Australia's insensitivity toward the Papua problem, the Indonesian government has to respond strongly and correctly so as not to create an impression that Indonesia is the "sick man" of Southeast Asia.

The writer is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 29, 06 | 4:13 pm | Profile


I was in Jakarta in '98 right after the anti-Chinese riots. The people who worked for me there at the time were Indonesian Chinese. They took me on an extensive tour of the city - to see the graffiti, the torched storefronts, etc. I thought the place was just one step away from the dark ages then and nothing I've read since then has changed my mind.

Posted by: spike on Mar 29, 06 | 7:19 pm

When I was in Jakarta in January, I was looking around, thinking: "Did someone forget to tell Indonesia that the 1998 Asia Crisis is over?"

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 29, 06 | 7:52 pm

Also there is a great story about those times in Karl Taro Greenfeld's Standard Deviations...

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 29, 06 | 7:59 pm

it's a crap heap. Partly because of the way the Javanese have ripped off their immediate neighbours since independence and partly because the moderate forces within the country have no voice. This leaves them with an utterly corrupt administration on the one hand and religious nutters who impose an inclement, plain innaccurate version of Islam on a polynesian people (stupid) and behave as though they are still upset at being kicked out of southern Spain or by the fact that there is no longer a Caliph in Medina. Never mind reminding them that we are no longer in 1998, they need to be told we are no longer in year 798.

Another interest fact: the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah whatever T shirt of the week against the writer Salman Rushdie was under Sharia law, actually illegal. Funny how no one, anywhere mentioned that at the time.

Posted by: TheOriginalTrousersnake on Mar 29, 06 | 10:37 pm

Not 798? I think my sun-dial must be running a coupla centuries slower every day...


According to "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, it is all the fault of the moderates. By actually entertaining the patently absurd and inhuman idea that there is god, by believing in "a little bit" of The Qu'ran or The Bible or When We Were Six they therefore are unable to effectively deny the legimitimacy of the fundamentalists who believe in ALL of it...
Other than that, no opinion.

Oh there was some Muslim anti-Australia cartoons in an Indonesian newspaper, but they aren't on the web anywhere I can find them....

There is a good anti-Austrlian one by Peter Nicholson here though -

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 29, 06 | 11:38 pm

They say aussies go to hell - their greatest donor. Its same all over. Now Finnish and Swedish and Danish orgs have put more aid than UK or Australia (u hear me, check the UN records) and they like to kill me for mentioning. I was in tough place lately

Posted by: north on Apr 04, 06 | 8:26 am

I flew for the necessity for my family. Though I will be back

Posted by: north on Apr 04, 06 | 8:31 am

Why do they want to kill ones that help them? We help them more than anyone ever has? Is it a weird belief were all devils?

Posted by: north on Apr 04, 06 | 8:34 am

ok this is strange and i forgive for all gods.

ok- not weird. at all... it was just my accidental thought and wery unwise. please take that thought as wery unwise and have me feel the punishment.

I need the Feng for my apartments and you shall give it. And I will honour you.

Posted by: north on Apr 04, 06 | 8:42 am


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