Thursday, 24 November 2011
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) the Papuan people will celebrate this anniversary with gatherings and protests throughout the province as is their legal right; and
(b) calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Rudd) to:
(i) pay close attention to the events that unfold in West Papua on this date, and
I thank the Senate. The government does not support this motion, does not support dealing with complex foreign policy matters by way of a simple Senate resolution. I do wish again to inform the Senate the Australian government has discussed the broader question of human rights in the Papuan provinces with the Indonesian government and has said that Indonesia should respect the rights of all its citizens. The Australian government respects Indonesia's territorial integrity, including its sovereignty over the Papuan provinces. This is a longstanding bipartisan position that was enshrined in 2008 with the ratification of the Lombok Treaty. The government also recognises that, under President Yudhoyono, Indonesia's human rights record and scope for freedom of expression have improved markedly. Finally, the Senate will be aware that Australia is expanding its $40 million development assistance program to the Papuan provinces.
Next week the West Papuan people will celebrate their unofficial date of independence, 50 years since the West Papuan community first raised the Morning Star flag and sang their national anthem. It is clear, based on recent events, that conflict is escalating in West Papua. Only several weeks ago a number of people were arrested and detained, and we understand that a number of people remain in prison at this time. In addition, a number of people were killed. We understand that at least six people were killed as a result of the third West Papuan People's Congress, where people were seeking their right to determine their own future.
We understand that next week a series of protests will be held in West Papua, across the West Papuan community. We also understand now that the Indonesian government has expressed that no dissent from the state of Indonesia will be tolerated. We understand that there is the serious potential for more conflict in the region. We know, based on recent events, that the human rights of the West Papuan community are under threat and that in fact we may see a number of executions committed in the coming week.
We want to see the Australian government take a leadership role on this issue. We want to see the foreign minister express in the strongest possible terms to his counterpart in Indonesia that Australia will not tolerate any human rights abuses, in fact any violence, on the West Papuan community. Finally I would say, through you, Mr President, that if a motion is not an appropriate way for dealing with issues of foreign policy, please tell me what is. Question put:
That the motion (Senator Di Natale's) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. [12:17]
The President—Senator Hogg
That the Senate—
(i) the recent demonstrations in West Papua calling for a referendum declaring independence from Indonesia and the resulting 19 deaths that occurred during the demonstrations, and
(ii) that the people of West Papua are facing a situation similar to the people of East Timor in that while both were defended by Australians during World War II, Australia failed to support them when they were annexed by Indonesia; and
(b) calls on the Government to:
(ii) offer Indonesia support by way of funding and the services of the Australian Electoral Commission to organise a free and democratic election, and
(iii) support the West Papuan request for United Nations’ recognition of their right to independence.
I seek leave to make a brief statement.
The people of West Papua, like all people in the world, are entitled to pursue the very rights we defend in this house, namely the right to choose their future and to live in a free and democratic society. Over many years, we have rightly sent troops across the world to protect the most fundamental right of all human beings, the right to live in peace and liberty. In recent times we have given our support to the people of Libya who fought for their right to live under a freely elected government of their choice. Surely, if we have learned something from those tragic years of East Timor, we cannot continue to ignore another neighbour who holds out a hand seeking our support.
by leave—While we support the intent of this motion, we do not support any call for West Papuan independence. We think that should be a matter for the West Papuan community. We support their right for self-determination.