Australia mulls more help to Ukraine but ignores West Papua like Japan

Australia mulls more help to Ukraine but ignores West Papua like Japan

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Oppression in West Papua by Indonesia is ongoing. It is happening decade after decade. However, with Australia and Japan taking more proactive anti-China and anti-Russian Federation foreign policy decisions – how come they turn a blind eye to West Papua?

It is notably bizarre for Australia because West Papua is geographically near. Also, given the plight of the indigenous Aborigines who suffered brutally at the hands of settlers and the state apparatus of Australia in history, it is incumbent on modern Australia to take a proactive approach in helping the indigenous Aborigines and supporting various ethnic groups who continue to suffer throughout the region. Therefore, Australia and New Zealand need to condemn Indonesia and its brutal deeds of Javanization and Islamization in West Papua.

The nations of Australia, Indonesia, and Japan share important geographic, geopolitical, and economic spaces that shouldn’t be overlooked – especially with Australia and Japan being members of Quads. Ironically, the Quads group motto (America, Australia, Japan, and India) is a free and open Asia-Pacific. However, the indigenous of West Papua suffer endlessly at the hands of their Javanese overlords. Therefore, a free and open Asia-Pacific can’t happen if West Papua remains in chains.

West Papua wants to be a free nation within the Asia-Pacific and to exploit its natural resources. Papuans want their culture and religion to thrive without the misdeeds of Indonesia and endless ethnic and religious colonialism.

UN News reports, “Between April and November 2021, we have received allegations indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including of young children, enforced disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment and the forced displacement of at least 5,000 indigenous Papuans by security forces.”

Australian Foreign Affairs reports (Dominic Simonelli), “…successive Australian governments have turned a blind eye to Indonesia’s brutal oppression and economic exploitation of the indigenous peoples of West Papua, prioritizing cooperation with Indonesia over the welfare of West Papuans. Indonesia’s pervasive abuse of ethnic Papuans has become institutionalized in the decades since its independence. Left unchecked by foreign powers, the West Papuan crisis is the Asia-Pacific’s “silent genocide”.

If Australia and Japan want to support Ukraine then why do both nations ignore West Papua? Neither Australia nor Japan can play the democratic and human rights card if they wilfully ignore West Papua and the brutal deeds of Indonesia. However, leaders from both nations have met the leader of Indonesia with smiles and increasing economic ties – thus the indigenous of West Papua are being betrayed by two nations in the Asia-Pacific who claim to support democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.

Voice of America reports, “Australia, the largest non-NATO contributor of military aid to Ukraine, has sent missiles and armored personnel carriers as well as humanitarian supplies. Australia has already imposed sweeping sanctions on Russian institutions and its political and military leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia said, “We are the largest non-NATO contributor [to Ukraine]. The suggestion is not going into Ukraine… The suggestion is whether Australians could provide support for training in Europe and we will give consideration to that, as we will give consideration to the other requests.”

However, Australia and West Papua share the same geographic space – unlike distant Ukraine, which already receives tens of billions in military arms from various NATO nations. Therefore, why can’t Australia (notably) and Japan see West Papua?

Elaine Pearson (Human Rights Watch – Australia) said, “For more than 50 years, Indonesia has tightly restricted access to Papua and West Papua for foreign journalists and human rights monitors making it very difficult to investigate allegations of serious human rights abuses… There are numerous reports of killings, torture, arbitrary detention and forced displacement for which no one has ever been held to account.”

The Guardian reports, “Indonesia has controlled West Papua since invading in 1963 and formalizing its annexation through the controversial, UN approved, ‘Act of Free Choice.’ Security forces are accused of severe human rights violations during the occupation with an estimated 500,000 Papuans killed.”

How much longer will Australia and Japan – and the wider international community – look away while the West Papuans suffer at the hands of Indonesia?


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