Veronica Koman: Human Rights Fraud
07-01-2020 – When leftists hear the term “human rights lawyer”, suspicions are, or should be, immediately raised. “Human rights”, so-called, has been twisted and distorted by the paid and unpaid scribes of Western imperialism into something which no longer corresponds to what these words originally meant in the English language. Wholesale wars of regime change, outright invasions and occupations of countries deemed too independent of the Anglo/US Empire, the funding and very creation of an “opposition” in countries seen as too friendly to Russia or China – all of this and much more is justified under the deliberately misleading rubric of “human rights”. The case of Veronica Koman in relation to West Papua is yet another page in this sorry tale.
Ms Koman is currently being paraded around Australia by swindled left parties eager to promote their blind support for West Papuan “independence”. The Socialist Alliance (SAll) featured Ms Koman on a “World in Revolt” panel at their national conference in December last year. Socialist Alternative (SAlt) are also billing Ms Koman as a featured speaker at their (misnamed) Marxism 2020 conference in Melbourne on April 11. While not hosting Ms Koman, the Spartacist League (SL) chimes in with the other left parties they chastise as “reformist”, to sing her praises. They even use the term “human rights lawyer” to refer to her (Australasian Spartacist, No. 239, Summer 2019/20), which could be a first for a party which so proudly proclaims its revolutionary credentials. Solidarity (Sol), which usually has a policy of physically excluding the SL from their public forums, nonetheless echo SL and other left parties employing the liberal approved “human rights lawyer” vernacular.
Why did Ms Koman flee?
The corporate media narrative is that Ms Koman fled into exile, in fear of her life, to Australia after bravely defending West Papuans from the Indonesian armed forces. Like almost all of the narrative spun by supporters of Papuan separatism, this is fiction. Ms Koman has been accused by Indonesian police of “incitement” for the spreading of fake videos and hoaxes online, some of which led to ultra-violent protests across Indonesia and West Papua in the second half of 2019. Under Indonesian law governing online activity, if found guilty Ms Koman could be jailed for six years and fined $US 70 000. So she fled to Australia to avoid a lengthy jail term, NOT because she was merely “reporting” on events in West Papua. The riots which were partly fueled by Ms Koman’s social media posts led to the deaths of at least 40 people – both Indonesians and Papuans. (For clarity, we use the terms “Indonesian” and “Papuan” even though Indonesians regard Papuans as part of the Republic of Indonesia.) This was an extremely serious matter, and the Indonesian police followed procedure by asking her to step forward to be questioned. Ms Koman refused, point blank. Indonesia’s national police spokesperson, Argo Yuwono, speaking about the request sent to Ms Koman, said “We have communicated it with the international relations division..to make her available for questioning. We really hope that she would come. If she refuses to come, well, what else can we do? We have to respect rules”. From this statement, it is clear that Ms Koman was under no physical threat by turning herself in for questioning. What she feared, instead, was being charged and convicted of racial incitement. To avoid this, she fled to Australia, knowing that the corporate media and even sections of the Australian government would shelter her. So much for the high principles of a “human rights lawyer” !!
Ms Koman, who grandstands with sombre intonations about the “human rights” of West Papuans, is silent about even the right to live, and the right not to be slaughtered by maniacal Papuan separatists, if you are an Indonesian living in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia. According to the Jakarta Post, on September 23 last year, a mob of Papuan militia descended upon Wamena and proceeded to set ablaze hundreds of shops, government buildings, vehicles in the street and also “attacked other residents with weapons.” (Emphasis added) Papuan Police announced that they were searching for those responsible, who they regard as provocateurs, and who they believe are members of the KNPB (National Committee of West Papua) and/or the ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua). The Indonesian government suspects that the life-taking violence in Wamena last September was orchestrated by UK based Papuan exile Benny Wenda through contacts with the ULMWP and KNPB.
If Ms Koman was indeed a “human rights lawyer”, if such a thing exists, wouldn’t she offer to defend the Indonesians attacked with hand weapons by Papuan separatists? Further, wouldn’t she offer to assist the families of those who were burnt to death after being trapped in the buildings which were set alight by rampaging Papuans? We won’t be holding our breath. From what can be observed, not all Papuans support separatist independence, and only a small minority of Papuans are prepared to take up arms in a Papuan militia. An even smaller minority of Papuans are prepared to use wanton and life-taking violence against neighbours who have a different ethnicity. i.e. non-Papuan Indonesians. Yet Ms Koman has decided to hitch her wagon to these very types – while claiming the exalted mantle of one who is waging a noble battle for “human rights”. The hypocrisy is stunning.
What is the basis of West Papuan separatism?
Ms Koman, and the Australian left parties singing hosannas to her, have to face up to an uncomfortable truth. In large part, West Papuan separatism is based on ethnic animosity and violence towards Indonesians, as opposed to claimed oppression and institutional discrimination by the Indonesian state. Needless to say, the left cannot support ANY political movement based on ethnic antagonism. In the main, what Papuan separatists are opposed to is the large-scale transmigration of Indonesians into West Papua over several decades. While it is true that the numbers of transmigrants are significant, figures from 2017 indicate that Austronesian transmigration has not turned the indigenous Melanesians into a minority, as separatist Papuans had feared. Out of an overall population in the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) of 3.6 million, it is estimated that the Melanesian population comprises 66% of the total, meaning that largely Austronesian transmigrants make up 34%. Moreover, many “transmigrants” have been residing in the Papuan provinces for several decades, making the “migrant” term misleading. However, West Papua researcher Dr Jim Elmslie has also pointed out that in some regencies of West Papua, largely Austronesian settlers have become a majority, outnumbering Melanesians. These are the regencies containing the coastal cities such as the capital Jayapura. Yet in the highland regions, indigenous Melanesians still comprise the overwhelming majority.
If, and it’s a big if, the Indonesian state was systematically discriminating against, excluding, or even attempting a physical genocide of Melanesians in Papua, a separatist movement for independence MAY be one of the political options. But there is scant evidence that anything approaching this is occurring. There is no “genocide” in West Papua, in terms of a military occupation which is attempting to expel, much less exterminate, the indigenous population. On the contrary, there is much more evidence that the Indonesian government is attempting to integrate Papuans into the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia. This does not mean, of course, that leftists should endorse the Indonesian government or its politics. But it does mean investigating the claims of the Papuan separatists, and not taking their word for it.
In politics Marxists must be able to distinguish the essence of phenomena from its form. Under most circumstances, generally the left would support a movement aimed against an imperialist power. But here’s the rub: Indonesia is not imperialist! Not even our presumed Australian socialist parties who loudly proclaim their backing of West Papuan independence – SAll, SAlt, SL, Sol – would claim that. On the contrary, Indonesia is a third world nation which is still in the process of developing, which means it cannot approach even Australia in terms of labour productivity, for example. While it is true that Indonesia operates a capitalist economy, Indonesia itself fought for its independence from 350 years of Dutch colonialism. Again, this does not at all mean that Marxists politically support the current Indonesian government. At the same time, Marxists should side with the third world nation when it comes to a question of meddling or interference into their affairs by imperialism.
Lies for Empire
Ironically, Papuan separatists actively collude with, and cultivate, liberal yet pro-imperialist elements in order to prosecute their movement for “independence”. Ms Koman is but one example. Liberal pro-imperialists today line up with the conservative imperialists they feign to criticise when it comes to war, and even national sovereignty. For example, US imperialism was (or is) engaged in counter-revolutionary intrigue in Hong Kong, funding and encouraging ultra-violent separatist riots throughout 2019, with the ultimate aim of overturning socialism in mainland China. Blackshirt fascist leader Joshua Wong, openly courted by the US state department through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is the poster boy for this reactionary movement. In the middle of all of this, on the 18th of June 2019, none other than Veronica Koman tweets a happy snap of her alongside Mr Wong. Two days later, Mr Wong would incite a riot at the Wan Chai Police Station in Hong Kong, for which he was later arrested and charged. One wonders if our purported Australian socialist parties can see the connection. Mr Wong incites racially charged riots (reports of anti-mainland Chinese racism among the Hong Kong Blackshirts are legion) in Hong Kong at the service of US/UK imperialism, while Ms Koman incites racially charged anti-Indonesian riots in West Papua also at the service (albeit covertly) of US/UK imperialism. When ethnic based riots (containing ethnic violence in the case of the armed Papuan separatists) forms part of your politics, you are not in good company.
Examples of Ms Koman’s lies for Papuan separatism are tweeted (on Twitter) frequently. In a tweet dated 21-08-19 from the Fakfak regency, Ms Koman posts two images, with claims that one West Papuan protestor had his stomach slashed and his intestines were pouring out, and another claiming that a protestor was hit by stray bullets. The images are clearly fakes, with staged actors, and with faces blacked out. If it came to it, the photos would be thrown out of any court of law as unverifiable. Five days later, in a tweet from Wamena, Ms Koman claims the protest rally gathering there would contain healthy people from among those displaced by the Indonesian military operation in Nduga, which allegedly “caused the death of 186 civilians”. The lies here are palpable. Numerous sources will confirm that what actually happened was that Papuan separatists armed with guns executed 24 road workers constructing the Trans Papua Highway. Eight more fled, only for seven of them to be tracked down and butchered the next day. Behold the real intentions and actions which underpin West Papuan “independence” !
Anti-China gun for hire
Despite Ms Koman’s ethnic Chinese heritage, her anti-Chinese anti-communism knows few bounds. The fake Western media concoction of Uyghur “oppression” in China’s Xinjiang province has been in full swing in the last 12 months. As we wrote in July last year, the West is not concerned in the slightest about “human rights” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Washington – backed by Canberra – are attempting to demonise socialism in China by inventing boundless fictions such as Uyghur “concentration camps”. This is because China’s stupendous economic growth and concomitant advances in science, technology, education etc., is in the process of surpassing the failing capitalist economies of the US, Europe, Australia and the rest. Chiming in with the utterly deceitful Uyghur “human rights” corporate media hoax is – you guessed it – Veronica Koman.
Ms Koman tweeted dolefully that the Indonesian government would “never” speak out for the Uyghurs because it needed the Chinese government’s support on the Human Rights Council over West Papua! Much more likely is that the Indonesian government can see a fake “human rights” campaign orchestrated by Washington when they see one. As a Muslim majority country, most Indonesians can see that the US government and their Western allies cannot possibly be concerned about the Muslims of the XUAR, when it has waged horrific wars against other majority Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, slaughtering well over 1 million adherents of the Islamic faith.
What price integrity?
Lest anyone imagine that it is only the “Trotskyist” Australian left parties (SAll, SAlt, SL, Sol) which fall for the torrent of tall tales from the West Papuan separatists, the fact that they are joined by two “Stalinist” (and/or “Maoist”) Australian left parties should kick this misconception. Both the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and the Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist (CPA-ML) make firm calls for Papuan separatism, with both demanding a referendum take place. They don’t appear to notice that this is ultimately a call for imperialism itself to “oversee” the referendum – either through the United Nations (UN) or US/UK/AUST troops on the ground. The CPA-ML try to deflect likely questions about the fact that Australian Union members and Waterside workers, including Communists, aided and assisted the Indonesian struggle for independence from Dutch colonialism during World War II. Yet the contradiction is too large to ignore. Both the “Trotskyist” and “Stalinist” parties have been fooled by the habitual lies and falsification which drives West Papuan separatism. It could be understandable why liberals would not have the basis on which to question the political claims of an indigenous people, which is covertly backed by sections of world imperialism. Socialists, however, should know better, and should be able to apply basic Marxist investigative skills in ANY sphere, especially when dealing with claims of a “human rights lawyer”.
Veronica Koman, and by extension, the Papuan separatist movement, is a fraud. Regardless of the actions of its government in the past, or in other situations, Indonesia is not “imperialist”. Armed Papuan separatists especially are guilty of anti-Indonesian violence, and the likes of Ms Koman sell vast fake narratives placing the blame on Indonesia, with the assistance of the corporate media in Australia and elsewhere, to an eager Western audience. Indonesian workers are aware of what is happening, and don’t buy it. A political movement based on truths, facts, and actions against basic injustice is one thing. A quasi-political movement based on lies, distortions, ethnic antagonism and violence is another thing entirely. The left, at the very least, should be able to sense when it is being hoodwinked.
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2 https://www.facebook.com/events/539475839964278/ (02-01-2020)
 Ibid, 6.
 https://cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1898/05-papua.html (07-01-2020)