Western hypocrisy on East Timor

Wednesday, December 11, 1991

By Henke Rumbewas

While the Australian and other western governments have expressed condemnation of the recent massacre in East Timor, our foreign minister, Senator Gareth Evans insists that such shootings are "not the policy of the Indonesian government". As a West Papuan, I find this statement ridiculous.

If such massacres are not Indonesian policy, why have they been carried out time and time again in East Timor and in West Papua (Irian Jaya)? Human rights organisations have recorded massacres of well over 100 West Papuans at a time in the 1960s.

If it is not a policy to massacre our peoples, then why did they kill Arnold Ap (1985) and other West Papuan cultural leaders and intellectuals?

If it is not their policy to carry out genocide of our peoples, then why do the Australian government and other western governments sponsor the policy of transmigration of Indonesians from Java to East Timor and Irian Jaya in an attempt to make us a minority in our own lands? There are only about 900,000 West Papuans, and 12,000 of them are forgotten in refugee camps in Papua New Guinea.

Torture, people going missing in the night, detention without trial and straight out massacres against our peoples are all part of the Indonesian government's policy to forcibly integrate our occupied nations. Barbaric acts take place as regularly as breakfast, lunch and dinner in West Papua.

The Australian, US and other western governments know that this has been and is Indonesian government policy. They pretend that they don't because they actively support the Indonesian government's policy towards East Timor and West Papua.

It is very sad that so many West Papuans were killed since 1963 by the Indonesian occupation forces while the rest of the world ignored us totally. But it is more than sad to see the Australian government today making a big show of human rights in the Middle East, Europe and in our region (e.g. Cambodia), while it assists the government of its nearest Asian neighbour to carry out human rights violations. Australia and the US even train the Indonesian military.

Their recent words on the massacre in East Timor are not worth much. Their aim is only to calm down their own people who are outraged at the killings, while allowing the Indonesian government to go on with the ugly and dirty work.

It is only thanks to the portable video camera that the latest massacre was reported so widely and the stench of Indonesia's policy of repression, silently backed by western governments, was exposed. This massacre will fade from the front pages soon, but there will be more massacres to come in East Timor and West Papua unless we do something to stop them.

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