U.S. WARNS JAKARTA OVER FORCE IN IRIAN JAYA AND ACEH

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By Mark Forbes Foreign Affairs Correspondent Sydney

SYDNEY, Australia (June 30, 2001 - The Age/Kabar-Irian)---The United States has warned Indonesia that it must stop using force to subdue its troubled provinces of Irian Jaya (West Papua) and Aceh and allow a greater degree of self-government.

Richard Haass, director of policy planning in the State Department, called for reform of the Indonesian military and prosecution of soldiers who abused human rights. He also criticized Asian bodies such as ASEAN and APEC as weak and lost and of limited value in dealing with serious regional problems.

Mr. Haass was speaking at a conference on Australian-U.S. defense relations at Sydney University yesterday. He said Indonesia's political elite was paralyzed by the imminent impeachment of President Abdurrahman Wahid, while the situation in the provinces was of serious concern.

"There is no military answer to the challenge posed by the GAM (Free Aceh Movement) in Aceh or by separatists in Papua," Mr. Haass said. "Decentralization is a step in the right direction, but Jakarta will ultimately have to accommodate at least some provincial as well as district-level ambitions for self-government.

"We are talking about self-rule and greater devolution of political authority and responsibility."

Proposals for some autonomy for Irian Jaya remain deadlocked in the Indonesian parliament. Violence involving the army and GAM continues on a daily basis in Aceh.

"Authorities in Jakarta will also need to make real progress on reforming the Indonesian military. There has got to be accountability for past actions and there's got to be control over present and future actions by the security forces," he said.

The secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, Ashton Calvert, offered muted support for limited autonomy in Irian Jaya at the seminar but said it was in Australia's interest for Indonesia to retain its territorial integrity.

Dr. Calvert said he considered it important to convince people in Aceh, Irian Jaya and elsewhere that the central government was willing to discuss some degree of regional autonomy "rather than relying on military suppression."

Dr. Calvert said dialogue, not suppression, was needed to give locals a stake in their future and avoid confrontation with the international community. "Suppression might work in the short term, but tends to worsen problems over time," he said.

Mr. Haass also criticized Asian regional institutions for their limited value in tackling serious problems such as instability in Indonesia, challenges to democracy in the South Pacific and tensions between China and Taiwan.

Mr. Haass said Asia had been slow to make the transition to a post-Cold War world, describing the ASEAN regional forum as a "frequently frustrating exercise in 'convoy diplomacy' always moving at the speed of the slowest member."

"APEC seems to have lost its way and is in danger of descending into formalism.

"The upcoming meeting of leaders in Shanghai represents an important opportunity for APEC to assert its role as an engine of regional economic growth and a laboratory for new ideas," he said.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

 

U.S., AUSTRALIA URGE JAKARTA TO TALK IRIAN JAYANS AND OTHER REBELS

By Michael Christie

SYDNEY, Australia (June 29, 2001 - Joyo Indonesian News/Reuters)---High-ranking U.S. and Australian officials on Friday urged Indonesia to avoid using military force to quash separatist movements and instead seek agreements with rebels through dialogue and greater regional autonomy.

Richard Haass, the U.S. State Department’s director of policy planning, said strife in Aceh, Irian Jaya and elsewhere in Indonesia was of "serious concern."

The government, meanwhile, was paralyzed ahead of the possible impeachment of President Abdurrahman Wahid in August.

"No matter who is president of Indonesia from August, Jakarta will have to come to grips with the problems on its periphery as political issues, not just as security problems," Haass said.

"There is no military answer to the challenge posed by the gun in Aceh or by separatists in (West) Papua. Decentralization is a step in the right direction but Jakarta will ultimately have to accommodate...ambitions for self government."

Haass was addressing a conference on Australian-U.S. defense relations at Sydney University.

Wahid, Indonesia’s first democratically elected president faces parliamentary impeachment proceedings over two financial scandals. The hearing begins on August 1.

His political foes also want the frail Muslim cleric to account for his chaotic 20-month rule, a demand over which he has threatened to call a state of emergency.

The political battle has sucked the world’s fourth most populous country into sporadic violence and uncertainty.

Separatists Fight On

Meanwhile, long-running independence movements in Aceh and Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, have simmered on. Their dreams of independence have been encouraged by the secession in 1999 of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which Jakarta ran for 24 often brutal years and which is now being administered by the United Nations.

The government has sent special military forces and police to counter the rebels. It has also begun a process of decentralizing power and control over mineral resources.

Some regional security analysts say nationalist elements in Jakarta feel Wahid has conceded too much.

If the president is ousted in August, he is likely to be succeeded by his estranged deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri, regarded by many as closer to the military and likely to take a much harder line against independence movements.

But a senior Australian diplomat said force would not ultimately resolve the problems Jakarta faces in some regions.

Ashton Calvert, secretary of the Australia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Canberra was "totally sincere" in wanting the territorial integrity of Indonesia to hold.

At the same time, Calvert said he considered it important to convince people in Aceh, Irian Jaya and elsewhere that the central government was willing to discuss some degree of regional autonomy "rather than relying on military suppression."

"Suppression might work in the short term but it merely exacerbates the problem over time and it will inevitably lead to some confrontation between Indonesia and the wider international community," he said.

Asked by an Indonesian academic to explain his comments, Haass said a political solution involved "some form of greater devolution of political authority and responsibility."

He also called for accountability for past, present and future actions of the security forces.

"I realize of course that all of this is going to be tough because it’s taking place at a moment of maximum internal political uncertainty," Haass said.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: plovers@gn.apc.org  Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol 

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