Carlo's Corner: Bob Carr — humanitarian friend of West Papua

June 24, 2013
Cruel oppressors of West Papuans in Melbourne. Photo:

Australian foreign minister Bob Carr is nothing if not committed to humanitarian causes. And anyone supporting humanitarian causes cannot be anything but especially concerned about the situation facing the people of West Papua.

And so it was that Carr bravely spoke out against the “cruel” forces oppressing the long-suffering Papuan people: the international solidarity movement with the Papuan people's struggle against Indonesian occupation and for self-determination.

In a June 5 Senate hearing into human rights abuses in West Papua, Carr pulled no punches in condemning the “people who hold out to the people of Papua the promise of success in secessionism … The people who fly Papuan flags and the people who talk the language of secession and independence.”

In a heartfelt and stirring speech, a furious Carr told Greens Senator Richard Di Natale: “They are planting in the minds of people who actually live in the place the notion that this campaign has some kind of international resonance, and that is a cruel deceit by self-indulgent people safe in their own beds, safe in a democracy.

“It is a cruel deceit about the potential of a demand for secessionism. Australia and the world recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.”

Sure, to the casual observer, it might seem that, actually, what is cruel is the Australian government's ongoing and active support for Indonesia's brutal occupation of West Papua, backed by vicious repression such as shooting dead two peaceful protesters at a May 1 rally to mark 50 years of Indonesian oppression.

Some naive people might even suggest that the Australian government's role in arming and funding Indonesia's infamous Detachment 88 military unit, implicated in serious and ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, could actually be more accurately labelled as “cruel” when compared with those backing the Papuans’ demands for freedom.

Thank god, then, that we have politicians of the moral calibre of Carr to point out that those actually being cruel to West Papuans are the people who fly Papuan flags. After all, the flying of West Papua's flag, the Morning Star, is illegal in Indonesian-occupied West Papua and those who dare to do so risk being shot by Indonesian forces.

How absolutely heartless to fly the Morning Star in solidarity. It implies that perhaps Papuans could dare to dream that one day they too could fly their own flag without being shot by Australian-trained Indonesian soldiers.

And it is truly shocking that in this day and age there are people out there who still think it is somehow OK to abuse the rights of other people by standing up for their rights. Have these heartless bastards learned nothing from history?

For instance, we only have to look at the case of East Timor to see the absolute havoc caused by solidarity activists opposing the Australian government's decades-long policy of full support for Indonesia's genocidal occupation.

Cruelly, due in part to the evil work of inhumane solidarity activists opposing Australian government military training of Indonesian death squads, East Timor won its independence.

Now, the Timorese people are cursed with a distinct lack of Australian-trained killers. Now they have regrettably “seceded” from Indonesia and are even getting a share of the oil and gas in the Timor Sea, although the Australian government is working hard to see the poor people are not over-burdened with a full share of what they are legally entitled to under international law.

The Australian government is like that — they know how hard East Timor is doing it now they have won the right to govern themselves. Giving them all that extra cash to which they are legally entitled would only pose cruelly difficult questions — such as: should they spend the money tackling a lack of schools or shortage of health clinics?

We can only hope those cruelly promoting solidarity with West Papua fail in their bid to help Papuans win control over their country — so the Papuan people are confronted with the horrible question of which social problem to use their natural resources to solve.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.