Senin, 23 Januari 2012


Wests a world apart in bloody bid for


By Kayt Davies | January 24th, 2012, 12:08 pm
WA and West Papua have a few things in common. Apart from both having "west" in our names, we are both the resource-rich cash cows of our respective nations and we've both bandied about the word "separatism".
In WA, the secessionist movement is both part of our history and a pervasive sentiment that makes talkback radio listeners grumblingly ask "why should our minerals royalties be used to pay for hospitals in Victoria?".
Most West Australians are not serious about wanting to slice ourselves off from the rest of Australia. We can see the benefits, and no one disputes that we willingly signed up to Federation. But this feeling of wanting to keep what is rightfully ours, and not sharing it, is the core of the resistance to the mining tax. In our hearts we are separatists.
Meanwhile in West Papua, separatism is a word used seriously. Some, like rebel leader Jhon Yogi, take a military approach and lead a group armed with old rifles and bows and arrows.
Yogi is a hunted man, the likes of which a movie will be made about one day. In the past few months, the Indonesian military presence in West Papua has escalated. In a gunfight last month, a police officer was shot, allegedly by Yogi's men, and in retaliation his village was surrounded by paramilitary police on December 13 and burnt to the ground. In the following few weeks, 27 villages were burnt and more than 9000 people were chased into the jungles and foothills, where they worry about starving as the military forces them higher into the mountains to places where food is more scarce.
According to West Papua media reports, four fully armed combat battalions are searching the area for Yogi but he is eluding and frustrating them.
While Yogi is swashbuckling, he is not the main attraction of the separatist movement. The real power players are the ones behind the peaceful People's Congress held on October 16-19. About 3000 West Papuans attended despite the meeting being surrounded by a ring of military with tanks and machineguns.
On the last day, Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi were appointed president and prime minister of independent West Papua but as their positions were announced the gunfire started. In the melee at least seven people were shot dead and 800 were arrested, including the new appointees. Yaboisembut and Waromi are in custody awaiting trial for treason.
From where we stand it's easy to be baffled by their actions. Why is Yogi hiding in the jungle?
Why did these people adopt these titles if they knew it would lead to imprisonment and torture?
This is where it helps to draw comparisons. In WA, we are part of a nation by the choice of our predecessors. But what if the last century had ended differently and we had been gifted to Indonesia to appease it for some reason, like Papua was given to Indonesia in the 1960s to discourage it from siding with Russia in the Cold War? What if we had been given no say in the decision?
Or if we'd not only been given no say, but 1000 people were rounded up and threatened with death or mutilation if they didn't vote yes? Would we feel even more irritated about our mineral resources being used to fund hospitals and roads in the rest of the country?
Here we love our mines and miners. The companies pay good wages because miners work hard in harsh places. But how would we feel about the companies if our miners were being paid less than $1.50 an hour? Would that justify them doing what the Freeport miners did last year - strike for three months to get a pay rise? And what would we have them do if the company agreed to pay them $7.50 an hour but refused to guarantee that they won't be hunted down and shot for striking in the first place?
The final question is how would we feel about Australia, the country right next door, if we filmed our friends and neighbours being arrested, tortured and killed and sent the footage to the media in Australia and if the Australian Government ignored us and carried on talking to Indonesia as if we didn't exist? As if what was happening was just made up by a few crazy activists, and if instead they were so chummy with Indonesia that they invited their soldiers over for training and gave them gifts of millions of dollars worth of military equipment.
If you think about it like this, the West Papuans are just like us. History has not been as kind to them, but their responses resonate with the range of things that we would probably do in similar circumstances. On the whole, they've had enough and want a different future.
In 2001, Indonesia bowed to international pressure and gave them a special autonomy package, but it was just a piece of paper. Nothing changed.
That's why Yogi is in the jungle and why Yaboisembut and Waromi did what they did in October, knowing it would land them in prison. They're hoping the international pressure will ramp up and this time wind back the violence and the resources stripping for real.
Dr Kayt Davies is a senior lecturer in journalism at Edith Cowan University

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