Milk Tea Alliance: The Empire’s Anti-China Hoodlums

The economic rise of the People’s Republic of China is the major concern of the US Empire. Image from http://www.msn.com

11-03-2021: The West’s flailing efforts to prevent being overtaken and left behind by the economic and political rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues. The capitalist economies of the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Australia, Japan etc., stumble along, either in recession or barely above it. The economy of the PRC, on the other hand, moves ahead in seven league strides[1] – even despite the lockdowns and shutdowns associated with  the fake coronavirus “pandemic”.[2] One could plausibly argue that the Covid lockdowns were part of an engineered recession in the West, as the capitalist ruling classes of the US and EU understood quite well that only the creative destruction of parts of their own capital would give them a chance to drag themselves out of a decade long slump. While the conservative and bureaucratic political leadership of the PRC double-crossed workers by enacting the Covid charade, its economy was largely protected due to predominantly public ownership of the means of production. The PRC does not run primarily on the basis of production for private profit, and this is the key to its indomitable economic rise.

Thailand

In response to the PRC’s inevitably increasing economic ties with its near neighbours and beyond through the Belt and Road Initiative (New Silk Road) and other means, world imperialism – headed by Washington – uses any means available to disrupt these bonds. The innocuous sounding “Milk Tea Alliance” is anything but. Ludicrous claims that the Milk Tea Alliance is an alliance of “pro-democracy activists” are fostered by the US Empire.[3] The reality is that Washington and London, politically backed by Canberra, are openly funding and organising anti-socialist and anti-government sedition ultimately aimed at regime change in the PRC itself. Any actions – up to and including street violence, physically attacking and provoking police and security forces – are then spun as a “democratic uprising”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Milk Tea Alliance is anti-China, and little else.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the public relations arm of the CIA, does not really attempt to hide the extent to which it funds the “opposition” in Thailand. Its own website lists dozens of “civil society” organisations it funds in Thailand, with amounts of cash attached which are likely understated. These fronts are far from being what they are purported to be about: law reform, democratic rights, human rights, civil society building and so on.[4] Rather, they are about ending any semblance of Thailand’s independence, and punishing the Thai government for extending and deepening economic, political and even military ties with Red China. The Thai government has no choice but to deal with the PRC, and not only because it shares a long border. The PRC, thanks to its gargantuan and expanding socialist economy, offers Thailand economic opportunities that exist nowhere else. Neither the US nor any government of the European Union (EU), due to their respective economic recessions and geographical distance, are in a position to offer Thailand much at all.

The PRC, on the other hand, is a next door neighbour with a vast and expanding economy, which offers trade and investment and much needed infrastructure building projects with zero political interference. For example, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and China have signed agreements to build a railway which connects all these neighbouring South East Asian countries for the first time ever.[5] The economic benefits for Thailand and Laos and Cambodia are obvious, but cultural and political co-operation will also flow as a result. This integration and co-operation will benefit the PRC at the expense of the US Empire – which cannot offer these perks in any case. This is what the Washington seeks to dismantle – and hence the Thai wing of the “Milk Tea Alliance”.

The Thai government also had little choice but to disqualify the “Future Forward” party of corrupt pro-US billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongraungkit for violating Thailand’s electoral laws. Thanathorn had “loaned” his party six million dollars out of his own pocket – which was clearly a donation and therefore illegal under Thai law.[6] In response there were predictable “student” rallies purportedly protesting further restrictions on “democracy”, many of whom would later spring up as the “Milk Tea Alliance”. Likewise, the “Thai Lawyers for Human Rights” (TLHR), led by Anon Nampa, are transparently bound with Washington in an attempt to break Thai links with the PRC under the entirely false guise of “human rights”. Anon Nampa, who springs up and often leads “democracy” protests in Thailand, has had to admit that TLHR “receives all its funding from international donors”. The international donors are of course the NED, meaning that Anon Nampa himself – far from being a disinterested human rights lawyer – is directly paid by the US state department.[7] The Thai “democracy” movement is in fact foreign funded subversion in the service of the US Empire. The Thai government has only recently moved to regulate at least 100 foreign funded “NGOs” which had been operating with impunity.[8]

Myanmar

The latest attempted colour revolution by the US created Milk Tea Alliance is in Myanmar, where the West’s corporate media is painting a picture of a military dictatorship cancelling elections and suppressing demonstrations. This narrative is oceans apart from reality. As we wrote in February,[9] US and UK government funded “democracy” fronts had been operating unimpeded in Myanmar for decades. One result of this has been the creation of the National League for Democracy (NLD) itself, another was the defacto installation of Aung Sung Suu Kyi as State Counsellor from 2016. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) had reasonable grounds to claim that the November 2020 election – which the NLD “won” in a landslide was fraudulent, and that the actions it took to prevent a total US/EU government takeover of the state of Myanmar was necessary. It was merely one action that the Tatmadaw has taken against the virtually limitless building of para-state organisations within Myanmar, funded by imperialism itself. For example, not only was Aung Sung Suu Kyi made State Counsellor in 2016, Pe Myint was installed as Minister of Information. Pe Myint was a former doctor who was literally trained in journalism by the NED and George Soros’ OSI (Open Society Institute) at the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Bangkok.[10] The notion that Pe Myint would serve the interests of Myanmar rather than the US state department after such backing is fanciful at the very least.

Today, the West’s corporate media and their quislings are fanning the flames of violent unrest which they hope will lead to international (read: US/EU) intervention into Myanmar to confront and/or bring down the Tatmadaw. To do this, they must lie and lie openly about what is happening on the ground in Myanmar. They republish unsubstaniated United Nations (UN) claims that the Tatmadaw killed 38 people in one day.[11] These are baseless allegations aimed at liberals in the West, to soften up public opinion for a possible intervention into Myanmar by US forces or their proxies. At the UN, even Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UN gave the three fingered salute (a sign reportedly adopted from the Hunger Games films and by anti-government mobs in Thailand) while calling on the “international community” to hold Myanmar’s military to account. Thankfully, both China and Russia at the UN are currently against international intervention into Myanmar, calling for respect for Myanmar’s internal affairs.[12]  The governments of the US and the EU, needless to say, have no such principles.

One sure indicator of the ultra-reactionary anti-socialist and anti-China nature of the Myanmar anti-coup protestors is the backing offered by Indonesian fugitive Veronica Koman. Ms Koman fled Indonesia to prevent charges for racial incitement being laid against her for false coverage of West Papuan separatist riots during 2019.[13] Ms Koman, who despite having Chinese heritage is virulently anti-Beijing, tweeted in support of the Milk Tea Alliance when Myanmar ex-pats in Sydney staged a “Save Myanmar” rally on March 6.[14] It is to be expected that the vast majority of ex-pat Myanmarese living in Australia – or anywhere outside of Myanmar – would be quickly recruited by US imperialism in its various forms. The goal is clearly to set up political conditions whereby working people internationally do not oppose US or UK or UN troops (or a proxy force) being sent into Myanmar to confront the Tatmadaw – under the guise of “peacekeeping”. This is yet one more step towards the military encirclement of PRC, again escalating the danger of a hot war.

Hong Kong

By far the most violent members of the Milk Tea Alliance are the US/UK government backed Blackshirts in Hong Kong. Throughout 2019, they terrorised Hong Kong citizens with frenzied attacks on police, hurling bricks, petrol bombs and other projectiles. On some occasions, police were struck with arrows shot from bows[15], with some of them dipped in fire before being launched. Fallaciously portrayed as “pro-democracy” activists, many Hong Kong residents argued and pleaded with them to stop destroying the city. One Blackshirt responded to a resident with a different opinion by pouring flammable liquid on him and setting him on fire.[16] Needless to say, the notion that the Blackshirts are somehow fighting for a progressive cause despite using repeated and unprovoked violence against those who disagree with them is absurd. In reality, the Blackshirts are unadulterated anti-socialist hoodlums attempting (in vain) to separate Hong Kong from the People’s Republic of China. This is despite Hong Kong officially being handed back to China as far back as 1997. There is no chance of this happening, given that Hong Kong is now linked to the mainland by rail and the longest land bridge in the world, not to speak of the fact that Hong Kong has been a part of China for millennia.

The Blackshirts – many of whom are too young to even remember 1997 – are acting as reactionary pawns for US/UK imperialist attempts to destablise China using any means necessary. For decades, the US and UK governments have funded thousands of NGOs in Hong Kong, in an effort to prevent Hong Kong’s capitalism being subsumed by the socialism (however deformed) of mainland China. The Blackshirts mobilised under the oxymoronic name of the “Civil Human Rights Front”, when multiple members of this reactionary alliance had directly received NED funding. These include: the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labor Party and the Democratic Party. Some 37 000 NGOs with staff in the tens of thousands operate in Hong Kong, many of which receive funding from US and EU governments.[17] It is no wonder that the Blackshirts then wave not only US and UK flags, but even the defunct British colonial Hong Kong.[18]  This wing of the Milk Tea Alliance is as right-wing as can possibly be conceived.

Defend the PRC against regime change

Taiwan, and even India and Indonesia are sometimes added to the Milk Tea Alliance, giving the game away yet again about who is really behind it. It is unequivocal anti-socialist anti-China subversion, funded and in many cases organised by arms of the imperialist states of the US and the EU. China’s vast population and previous openness to the functioning of foreign backed NGOs opens the door for the ruling classes of the West to attempt to overthrow the PRC from within. Hence the hysterical propaganda campaigns about “human rights” and “democracy” in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Tibet. It is also the basis for the fake “democracy” movements being funded and orchestrated by Washington and London in Thailand and Myanmar. The agenda is to encircle Red China with imperialist bases on their borders, while politically destablising the PRC in its extremities. Nothing less than the overthrow of Beijing will satisfy the CIA and MI6, but they understand that this is currently not a military option. Hence, political subversion is the main modus operandi.

The PRC remains a bureaucratically deformed workers’ state, the same one which emerged from the victory of its socialist revolution in 1949. The class character of that revolution, being overwhelmingly backed by hundreds of millions of peasants, was qualitatively different to the working-class proletarian revolution in Russia in 1917. Nevertheless, the PRC today is overwhelmingly based on public ownership of the means of production and a planned economy. This is the productive basis for the 30 years of 10% GDP growth which it experienced, and which would not be possible if the economy was “capitalist”. This is just one reason why workers need to defend the PRC against internal and external imperialist backed subversion. At the same time, the PRC needs a proletarian political revolution to oust the conservative and nationalist political leadership and replace it with workers’ councils comprised of all those who seek to defend modern China and build socialism internationally.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/04/get-ready-for-a-long-recession-408911 (06-03-2021)

[2] https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-2020-worldwide-corona-crisis-destroying-civil-society-engineered-economic-depression-global-coup-detat-and-the-great-reset/5730652 (06-03-2021)

[3] https://time.com/5904114/milk-tea-alliance/ (06-03-2021)

[4] https://www.ned.org/region/asia/thailand-2020/ (06-03-2021)

[5] https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/thailand-to-sign-rail-pact-with-laos-china-asianewsnetwork? (06-03-2021)

[6] https://journal-neo.org/2020/02/28/thailand-protests-students-fight-to-save-washingtons-billionaire-proxy/ (06-03-21)

[7] https://journal-neo.org/2020/09/29/thai-protests-are-anti-chinese-not-pro-democracy/ (06-03-2021)

[8] https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2073783/govt-to-regulate-all-ngos (06-03-2021)

[9] https://redfireonline.com/2021/02/07/myanmar-military-moves-against-us-subversion/ (06-03-2021)

[10] https://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2016/08/how-us-took-over-myanmars-ministry-of.html (06-03-2021)

[11] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/5/myanmar-diplomatic-revolt-widens-as-protesters-regroup (06-03-2021)

[12] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/myanmar-ambassador-un-three-fingers-military-coup-b1808344.html (06-03-2021)

[13] https://redfireonline.com/2020/01/12/veronica-koman-human-rights-fraud/ (06-03-2021)

[14] https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/world/2021-03-06-hundreds-gather-in-sydney-in-solidarity-with-myanmar-protesters/ (06-03-2021)

[15] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/arrow-fired-by-hong-kong-protester-hits-police-officer-12101294 (07-03-2021)

[16] https://news.yahoo.com/hong-kong-police-investigating-videos-man-set-alight-081053989.html (07-03-2021)

[17] https://iacenter.org/2019/08/12/international-action-center-statement-u-s-role-in-hong-kong-protests/ (07-03-2021)

[18] https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3023817/are-hong-kong-protesters-pro-american-or-british-when-they (07-03-2021)

West Papua: Independence or Ethnic Conflict?

A bus which was set ablaze by Papuan “independence” supporters outside the Manokwari Parliament building in August 2019. Image from sbs.com.au

West Papua: Independence or Ethnic Conflict? 

23-09-2020: One year ago, dangerous riots led by West Papuan supporters of “independence” spread across Indonesia. The trigger was said to be racist insults being hurled by Indonesian soldiers at Papuan students studying at a university in East Java. The governor of East Java apologised for the insults at the time, stating that these are not the views of the people in general. Even though racist insults are of course unacceptable, one can understand the Indonesian soldiers being incensed at a report on social media of a defaced Indonesian flag at the dormitories where the Papuan students were staying – at the very time of the marking of Indonesia’s Independence Day of August 17.[1] This is especially the case if the Papuan students are studying at a Javan University courtesy of the Indonesian government.

In response Papuan independence supporters (who in reality are separatists) went on several rampages throughout the country. Parliament buildings were set ablaze, vehicles were set on fire, power poles were torn down, a market in FakFak was torched, an airport was vandalised and shops were looted.[2] Following this violence, two months later armed Papuan separatist militia launched a vicious attack on the town of Wamena, in which 30 people perished, with 22 of them being Indonesian transmigrants.[3] The armed Papuans targeted Indonesian transmigrant workers such as motorcycle taxi drivers and hospitality staff. Yet it appears that some Papuans who do not support separatist independence were also caught in the crossfire of the reckless intent of the homicidal Papuan militia. Others who wish to live in peace with their Indonesian counterparts tried to make it to the airport in an effort to flee for their lives.

Left parties fall for the three-card trick

As we have previously reported,[4] almost all Australian and many international left parties sign up to the basic fraud of “Free West Papua”. Most left parties fall for a three-card trick. All they see is 1. An indigenous people. 2. Oppression/occupation by a colonial power, which means 3. A struggle for “freedom”. This is such a distortion of reality it is difficult to know where to start. For one thing, socialists should not automatically throw their weight behind a political movement comprised of an indigenous people just because they are the original inhabitants. Marxists always need to make a basic assessment of the aims, politics and tactics of any movement, and determine whether it is either a cause of elementary justice OR a progressive step forward for working people internationally, before beginning to champion it. Left parties should not simply jump on bandwagons when they hear someone agitating for “freedom”.

For example, while racism against African-Americans in the US is wrong, it does not follow that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organisation or movement in the US necessarily has progressive politics. In fact, the recent rioting, looting and intimidation which BLM has carried out ostensibly in response to police violence cannot be an effective answer, let alone lead to equality between Americans of whichever colour. The current iteration of BLM is being used, whether consciously or not, to bolster the Democratic party in the run-up to the Presidential election. It is being used in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump and the Republicans from being re-elected in November, but with politics that are in many ways more right-wing than the Trump presidency.[5] Democratic party Presidential Nominee Joe Biden has a history of strongly backing segregation, and Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris is a former police prosecutor with a record of unjustly incarcerating African-Americans! BLM is also being used to further the “Covid-19” assault on working people, to say nothing of the fact that BLM is totally silent about the imperialist wars being waged on all kinds of people of colour by the Anglo/US/EU Empire. BLM is the ultimate example of how identity politics serves ends which are the opposite of those that it claims to stand for.

In a similar way, the separatist violence – often waged against innocent Indonesians – of the Papuan independence “fighters” is the culmination of what could be described as Papuan identity politics. They appear to be aware that such a movement could gain backing from major imperialist powers, with some Papuan separatists using the slogan “Papuan Lives Matter” following the response to the loss of George Floyd in Minnesota earlier this year.[6]  The Socialist Alliance, a left party which fuels Papuan separatism, interviewed Veronica Koman, who fled to Australia to avoid an arrest warrant being issued for her in Indonesia for inciting the race riots in 2019. She commented that the “uprising” contributed to increased Papuan “negritude” – a feeling of pride in being black, in their ethnicity and identity.[7]  This rather gives the game away – Papuan separatism is based on ethnic identity, and the armed Papuan separatists are more than prepared to use ethnic violence to achieve their ends.

Misapplication of Leninism

Needless to say, a movement which uses separatist ethnic violence as a key component CANNOT be backed by anyone on the left, let alone Marxists. In fact, intimidation and occasional murder is also used by armed Papuan militias even against other Papuans who prefer to live in peace with their Indonesian neighbours. So, in effect, Papuan separatism is not at all based on allegedly freeing Melanesians from the supposed repression of Austronesians (the majority ethnicity of Indonesia). Rather, it is about the promotion of a fraudulent narrative of discrimination against Papuans, combined with political lobbying of the ruling classes of actual colonial and imperialist powers (Australia, the United Kingdom, Holland etc., and its controlled United Nations), using any tactics up to and including the use of armed terrorism against anyone who does not agree with separatist independence. Again, this approach scarcely makes for a wholesome political movement.

The Bolshevik-Leninist group (BL) are a new left organisation in Australia and have taken some laudable pro-working class positions in the time they have been established. They correctly criticise other sections of the reformist left (such as the afore-mentioned Socialist Alliance) for positions such as endorsing the imperialist war on Syria. Yet they then join with these same organisations by chiming in with the call for “independence” for West Papua (and also on the false Coronavirus “deadly plague” deception – a topic best broached elsewhere). To do so, they misapply the position of Russian revolutionary leader VI Lenin on the issue of Marxist support for national liberation struggles. It should be noted that other petty-bourgeois and bourgeois national movements totally distort Lenin for their own ends, and unfortunately BL do likewise.

In an article posted in June this year, BL correctly state that Marxists are opposed to all forms of nationalism in the process of struggling for international socialism.[8] They quote Lenin with his well-known statement that the national struggle of an oppressed nation against an oppressor nation has a general democratic content, and it is this content which Marxists “unconditionally support”. They go on to say that Marxists must recognise the right of nations to self-determination in its efforts to achieve the fullest possible equality between nations.[9] Yet there is one small problem with this contention – “West Papua” is not a nation according to Marxist criteria.

The pamphlet “Marxism and the National Question” was written in 1913 by JV Stalin but was edited line by line by Lenin. The first lines of the first chapter clearly state that “a nation is not racial or tribal, but a historically constituted community of people.”[10] In those times, the concept of ethnicity was not as prevalent as it is now. Yet it shows that any attempt to forge a West Papuan “nation” based on Papuan or Melanesian ethnicity, not to speak of Papuan or Melanesian tribes, directly contradicts the established Marxist position. And in practice the Marxist position on the national question is simply a means to work towards the ultimate surpassing of nations on the road to socialism.

Further, the pamphlet goes on to list the renowned four criteria for a nation to be recognised – to determine IF Marxists can in some circumstances, add their backing to a movement for self-determination. It lists: 1. A common language 2. A common territory 3. A common economic life or cohesion and 4. A common psychological make-up manifested as a common culture. It stresses that it is only when all four characteristics are present, a nation can be recognised. One or a couple of these characteristics is insufficient – they must have all four.[11]  And keep in mind that Marxists only recognise nations in order to take the national question off the agenda, so as to clear as many obstacles as possible to enable a working class struggle for socialism.

Common language?

If we take West Papua, we see that not only does it not meet all four criteria for a nation – it does not even meet one! Take language. The whole island of Papua (including Papua New Guinea – PNG) is one of the most linguistically diverse in the world. It contains around 852 languages, although 12 of them have no known living speakers.[12] Language is closely related to culture, and it is estimated that there are over 1000 different Papuan cultures.[13] Even the Free West Papua campaign itself – which is not of course bound to socialism – openly states that “West Papua is home to over 250 diverse tribes, all speaking their own unique languages with unique cultures (emphasis added).”[14] Is BL aware of this? In fact, to enable the members of over 250 tribes to converse with each other, the language they use is Bahasa Indonesian! This is where the movement for separatist independence enters into impracticality, if not farce. What would be the point of separating entirely from Indonesia (if that was possible or desirable), “liberating” oneself from the supposedly oppressive and tyrannical Indonesian colonisers, only to constitute a geographical boundary in which the lingua franca is Bahasa Indonesian?

Common territory?

With regard to a common territory, the entire island of Papua may be common, but for various historical reasons, the eastern half of Papua is now the nominally independent nation of Papua New Guinea. If the “Free West Papua” campaign was to achieve its objective of separatist independence, what would be the reason for maintaining two Papuas – West Papua and Papua New Guinea? If there was a successful movement (hypothetically) for West Papuan independence, wouldn’t there be a natural pressure to “liberate” Papua New Guinea – a “Papua for all Papuans” ?

Here is where the politics of “Free West Papua” are revealed. The Free West Papua campaign consciously appeals to imperialist governments directly, especially to Australia, but also via the UN. Despite PNG having attained independence from Australia in 1975, the reality of imperialism is that Australia is still the overseer. If the Papuan separatists aimed to also “free” PNG, it would meet with universal opposition from the Australian ruling class. So the Papuan separatists are not prepared to do this – they prefer to attempt a manoeuvre to lever Australian ruling class backing for West Papua against Indonesia, in a similar way to Australian government “backing” for East Timorese independence after 1999. As events later showed, Australian government “support” for East Timorese independence was also colonialist, with Australia literally stealing oil and gas reserves clearly belonging to the new nation,[15] and being exposed as spying on East Timorese representatives during 2013 negotiations over the division of natural resources.[16]

Common economy?

There is indeed a common economy in “West Papua”, but it is not the one of the allegedly oppressed nation. The only real economy operating in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua is, not surprisingly, the Indonesian economy. For better or worse, the Indonesian government and Indonesian businesses carry out the only real economic activity in all of West Papua. Granted, there is a tendency for the public and private sectors in West Papua to be largely staffed by Indonesian transmigrants. However, this is an unavoidable result of the fact that Indonesian transmigrants are generally the ones who have had the benefit of education and/or a history of skilled administration or commercial experience. This would only be a problem if it could be established – without a doubt – that Papuans were systematically and deliberately excluded from opportunities to work in such industries.

However, the Special Autonomy Law for West Papua enacted by the Indonesian government in 2001 contains sections which mandates priority employment for indigenous West Papuans in the regional civil service, as well as special quotas for the employment of indigenous West Papuans.[17] The positions of Governor and Deputy Governor of Papua and West Papau are reserved for indigenous Papuans. Whether the special quotas for the employment of indigenous Papuans are always fulfilled in practice is a question to be investigated. Yet there cannot be a serious claim that Papuans are excluded or deliberately discouraged from public sector employment. On the contrary, there appear to be government efforts to create jobs for indigenous Papuans.

As Marxists BL would be aware of Lenin’s famous quip that socialism equals “Soviets plus electrification”. Of course, Soviets or workers’ councils are a fair way off, but how about the supply of electricity to West Papua? Electricity supply would, at least, begin to lead to a raising of living standards of West Papuans, not to speak of enabling a connection to commerce, and thus development. West Papua is largely divided between the coastal cities, where the overwhelming majority of economic activity takes place, and the rural interior, which largely operates on subsistence farming. In an attempt to address this imbalance, the Indonesian state owned electricity firm PLN last year announced its intention to connect 1123 West Papuan villages to the grid, as part of its aim to connect 100% of Indonesia by 2020.[18] Amongst other things, this would enable some indigenous Papuans to access bank accounts for the first time. We doubt that BL would oppose the electrification of West Papua in the name of “independence”.

Common culture?

In Papua there is a saying “a different culture for every village”. The island of Papua, and the land referred to as West Papua is extraordinarily rich in cultures – but it is not a common culture. Common culture is the key as far as Marxist recognition of nationality is concerned. Yet West Papua is home to at least 250 different tribes, each with their own specific cultures, customs, languages and more.[19] During Dutch colonialism, some of these tribes were relocated by force, and some of them are nomadic. BL should be aware that tribal cultures on their own, are notoriously difficult to unite into a common entity. Arguably one of the reasons for ongoing conflict and violence in Papua New Guinea is inter-tribal conflict. On the other hand, differing ethnic and national cultures can be reasonably integrated and united in a developed nation such as Australia or the USA. This is because the majority of people are working class, and the very process of working side by side someone requires co-operation and harmony. Without that base, divisions such as tribal conflict cannot be overcome.

To an extent, BL do recognise, and call for, the unity of West Papuan and Indonesian workers. They acknowledge that some Papuan nationalists are aggrieved at what they perceive to be the Indonesian government moving more Indonesian workers into Papua to solidify backing for Indonesian nationalism. They recognise that setting up Papuan workers against Indonesian workers is counter-productive, and that “closer collaboration” between the two should be the aim.[20] We would agree. But the largest barrier to Indonesian and West Papuan working class unity is the pushing of separatist independence. What material interest do Indonesian workers have in supporting separatist independence for West Papua – if they are to be excluded?  Not without reason, many Indonesian workers see West Papuan independence as being anti-Indonesian – especially if the violent tactics of the armed militia are anything to go by.

In their article, BL point to the 2011 strike at the Grasberg mine as an example of joint Indonesian and West Papuan worker co-operation in labour struggles.[21] No doubt there are any number of labour issues at a mine operated by an overseas owned multi-national. However, even during this labour unrest, the question of separatism was right in the middle of it. Direct information is difficult to come by, but there are reports that during this unrest, separatist forces were intimidating Union leaders, even while they were conducting a strike for higher wages.[22] What is more, there are other reports that work had to cease at the mine not due to the strike, but due to a pipeline being sabotaged by separatists.[23] Workers striking for higher wages and salaries only would hardly sabotage the workplace which was the basis for their employment.

Genocide?

BL state that “Since Indonesian takeover, hundreds of thousands of Papuans have been killed in a brutal occupation.”[24] BL repeat the claims of the “Free West Papua” movement that up to 500 000 Papuans have been killed by Indonesian armed forces over 50 years.[25] This is the highest “genocide” figure claimed, and it is usually done on the context of demanding the presence of an international peacekeeping force – read: imperialist intervention. If this was the case, there may be a case for urgent action. There is one small problem though: the Papuan population of West Papua has doubled in the last 50 years. If this has taken place within just two and a half generations (if a generation is 20 years), no “genocide” has occurred at all.

According to a 1971 census, the Papuan population of what is now referred to by separatists as West Papua was approximately 900 000 in 1971. By the time of the 2010 census, the Papuan population was around 1.7 million, and is estimated to have now surpassed 1.8 million.[26] There is room for debate on the exact numbers, the efficiency of census taking over different time periods and so on. Yet the trend is clear – Papuans have in fact thrived while being a part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. Of course, there are many political issues that need to be addressed, such as poverty and relative underdevelopment – although some of this can be put down to the at times impenetrable jungle terrain of the Papuan highlands.

One reason why Papuans have in fact expanded their population is that the Indonesian government has, to at least some extent, recognised the development gap between West Papua and other regions of Indonesia and make some effort to overcome it. This is codified in the law which the Indonesian parliament passed in 2001, granting Special Autonomy to the Papuan provinces. In addition, Article 56 of this law enables all Papuan students to receive education up to High School at the “lowest possible cost to the community”. And Article 59 of this law stipulates that all Papuans shall be provided with health care services with the “lowest charge to the community”.[27] No wonder their numbers are expanding. What is more, Australian working people do not even have this – their health care and education costs are rising as they are both being increasingly privatised! It is counter-intuitive to claim that the same government providing you with low-cost health care and education – for all residents, including Papuans – is also inflicting a “genocide”.

There is no “genocide in West Papua”. There is no “national liberation” struggle in West Papua either. There is a campaign of lies, deception and fraud which masquerades as a movement for “freedom”. A minority of Papuans seek to separate from Indonesia, no matter what the human or economic cost. A smaller minority of Papuans are prepared to take up arms and engage in ethnic conflict with other ethnicities which make up the state of Indonesia – up to and including violent terrorism. To interpret this scenario as something which is deserving of socialist support, not to speak of claiming the posthumous endorsement of Marx or Lenin for what is essentially ethnic conflict, is to expose oneself before facts and evidence. Genuine socialists do not seek to inflame ethnic tensions but seek to overcome them through joint struggle for a common class cause. The overall task is the forging of workers’ vanguard parties throughout Papua, Indonesia, Australia and internationally to help end ethnic and national tensions on the road to a socialist order.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://redfireonline.com/2019/09/04/west-papua-separatists-incite-violence/ (19-09-2020)

[2] Ibid, 1.

[3] https://redfireonline.com/2019/10/05/wamena-papuan-militia-terrorise-civilians/ (19-09-2020)

[4] https://redfireonline.com/2020/01/12/veronica-koman-human-rights-fraud/ (19-09-2020)

[5] https://redfireonline.com/2020/06/21/black-lives-matter-friend-or-foe/ (19-09-2020)

[6] https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-07-02/papuan-lives-matter (19-09-2020)

[7] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/veronica-koman-war-west-papua-escalating (19-09-2020)

[8] http://bolshevik-leninist.org/independence-for-west-papua/ (20-09-2020)

[9] ibid, 7.

[10] https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1913/03a.htm#s1 (20-09-2020)

[11] ibid, 9.

[12] https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/papua-new-guinea-tongue/ (20-09-2020)

[13] https://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/36503/1/Ethnicity%20Democracy%20and%20Development%20in%20PNG.pdf (20-09-2020)

[14] https://www.freewestpapua.org/info/about-west-papua/ (20-09-2020)

[15] https://kontinentalist.com/stories/australia-east-timor-a-tale-of-oil-and-exploitation (20-09-2020)

[16] https://theconversation.com/after-a-border-dispute-and-spying-scandal-can-australia-and-timor-leste-be-good-neighbours-121553 (20-09-2020)

[17] https://westpapuaupdate.com/strategic-positions-employment-west-papuans/ (20-09-2020)

[18] https://papuastory.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/electrification-for-1123-villages-in-papua-west-papua/ (23-09-2020)

[19] https://westpapuaupdate.com/understanding-diverse-culture-west-papua/ (23-09-2020)

[20] ibid, 7.

[21] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/10/indonesian-forces-striking-mine-workers#maincontent (23-09-2020)

[22] https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/indonesia/Grasberg-mine-PT-Freeport (23-09-2020)

[23] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/18/freeport-halts-work-amid-sabotage-separatist-pleas.html (23-09-2020)

[24] ibid, 7.

[25] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/03/west-papua-un-must-supervise-vote-on-independence-says-coalition (23-09-2020)

[26] https://www.globalresearch.ca/indonesias-west-papua-settlers-dominate-coastal-regions-highlands-still-overwhelmingly-papuan/5569676 (23-09-2020)

[27] https://www.refworld.org/docid/46af542e2.html (23-09-2020)

Veronica Koman: Human Rights Fraud

Crowds look on as the Manokwari Parliament building is set alight on 19.08.19. Image from http://www.ucanews.org

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.[1] Socialist Alternative (SAlt) are also billing Ms Koman as a featured speaker at their (misnamed) Marxism 2020 conference in Melbourne on April 11.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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”.[5] 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)[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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,[9] 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.[10]

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)[11], 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.[12] 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.[13] 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”.[14] 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.[15] 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[16], 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![17]  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)[18] and the Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist (CPA-ML)[19] 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.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.greenleft.org.au/video/world-revolt-free-west-papua (02-01-2020)

https://www.facebook.com/events/539475839964278/    (02-01-2020)

[3] https://www.solidarity.net.au/international/students-shot-dead-as-west-papua-protests-continue/ (02-01-2020)

[4] https://asiapacificreport.nz/2019/09/05/indonesian-police-target-veronica-koman-for-west-papua-incitement/ (02-01-2020)

[5] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/Papua-rights-defender-11212019184820.html (02-01-2020)

[6] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/08/papua-police-name-13-suspects-for-deadly-wamena-unrest.html (03-01-2020)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201830960/west-papuan-demographics-update-highlights-disparity (03-01-2020)

[9] https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/post/pacific-news-minute-new-statistics-show-indigenous-melanesians-remain-majority-w-papua#stream/0 (03-01-2020)

[10] https://www.globalresearch.ca/indonesias-west-papua-settlers-dominate-coastal-regions-highlands-still-overwhelmingly-papuan/5569676 (03-01-2020)

[11] https://www.mondialisation.ca/hong-kong-gets-new-us-backed-party-funded-by-washington/5520536 (04-01-2020)

[12] https://www.dimsumdaily.hk/veronica-koman-human-rights-lawyer-based-in-australia-who-advocates-for-west-papua-pursued-by-indonesian-government/ (04-01-2020)

[13] https://twitter.com/VeronicaKoman/status/1164181784612859905 (07-01-2020)

[14] https://twitter.com/VeronicaKoman/status/1165821234174496768 (07-01-2020)

[15] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2176302/indonesia-probing-reports-rebels-executed-31-construction (07-01-2020)

[16] https://redfireonline.com/2019/07/24/xinjiang-the-wests-big-lie/ (07-01-2020)

[17] https://twitter.com/VeronicaKoman/status/1204991932927115264 (07-01-2020)

[18] https://cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1898/05-papua.html (07-01-2020)

[19] https://www.cpaml.org/lostfiles.php?id=1568513614&catid1=9,15 (07-01-2020)

Wamena: Papuan Militia Terrorise Civilians

Part of the inferno set ablaze by separatist Papuan militia in Wamena. Image from wwwtribunnews.com

Wamena: Papuan Militia Terrorise Civilians

05-10-2019: Parts of West Papua are again in flames, after armed Papuan separatist militia launched an attack on the town of Wamena in the Papuan province of Indonesia. The death toll stands at 30, with 22 of the victims being Indonesian transmigrants, according to Indonesian national police Chief Tito Karnavian.[1] The armed Papuan militia set fire to numerous government and private buildings, leading to some Indonesians being burnt alive after becoming trapped.[2] These deadly attacks by armed Papuan separatists mark a serious turn to anti-Indonesian pogroms which cannot be justified, regardless of history. It reveals the “independence” movement, at the very least, as being politically compromised. Leftists in Australia and internationally need to carefully investigate the situation, rather than being swept into a trance by the slogan of “Free West Papua”.

Liberation movement?


Throughout history there have been many liberation movements which have fought for a just cause of emancipation from colonialism and imperialism. Over time, left parties and movements have thrown political support behind them, and have thereby stood on the side of elementary justice. The West Papuan case, however, is qualitatively different – in a negative way. A liberation movement forfeits the name if it is involved in ethnic violence, or in murderous acts against civilians or migrants. Unfortunately, armed Papuan separatists have done this repeatedly, and the attacks on Wamena in the last week of September were particularly vicious. By September 27, 1500 Indonesian residents had gathered at Wamena airport in a bid to leave. Local Air Force official Arief Sudjatmiko stated that 2500 people had registered to get aboard flights.[3] They were not fleeing the Indonesian military or security forces. They were fleeing for their lives from Papuan separatists, who were clearly targeting Indonesian transmigrant workers, such as motorbike taxi drivers, shop workers and restaurant waiters.[4] It should go without saying that socialists of any persuasion cannot endorse the wholesale slaughter of workers of any nationality – even if systematic discrimination against one group of workers is proven.

Yet even this does not appear to be the case in West Papua. While it is the case that the Indonesian transmigrants dominate the local economy in the Papuan provinces, there are policies in place to promote Papuans within the civil service.[5] There is a disparity between the coastal cities of West Papua, where transmigrants predominate in economic and commercial activity, and the relatively underdeveloped Papuan central highlands. The lack of development is not entirely the fault of the Indonesian government, but nonetheless the Indonesian government is attempting to spur development in Papua through infrastructure building, such as roads and electricity coverage. There is even an awareness that infrastructure building on its own will not solve all problems. Hence, in 2019, the Indonesian government increased spending on education by 13% across the country, including Papua.[6]  There may well be ways in which the Indonesian government is not administering the Papuan provinces using entirely just methods. For example, there are plans to have the roads built in Papua operate as toll roads.[7] A campaign to remove tolls from the roads would seem necessary. However, as in Australia, such a campaign would have to involve the working class of all nationalities, for lower living costs. It would not usually be a campaign against the road infrastructure itself – but particularly in Papua, where there are relatively few roads.

Not all Papuans are anti-migrant

There is evidence that the anti-migrant dimension of the West Papuan independence movement is not universal. For example, there appears to be peaceful co-habitation amongst indigenous Papuans and Indonesian transmigrants in certain areas. In Wamena during the separatist attacks, some indigenous Papuans helped to shield Indonesian transmigrants from the assaults. They even worked together to guard shops and buildings from the armed separatists – protecting their lives by doing so.[8] There were statements saying that the residents did not know where the armed independence marauders came from – perhaps the highlands. Wamena is the largest town in the central highlands, so it becomes the first target. Some Papuan independence militia claim that they have no issue with transmigrant workers, only those who act as informers for the government and security forces.[9]  In Wamena and elsewhere, however, this is not the case.  What cannot be denied is that the West Papuan independence movement has always had an anti-migrant basis. Romantically minded leftists in the West, who clamour to support West Papuan independence, are either not aware, or wilfully ignore, this base prejudice.

Moreover, it is the “exiled” West Papuans who are the most strident in prosecuting what is often a misleading campaign for separate independence. In the case of the Wamena attacks, Indonesian authorities, not without cause, have accused de-facto independence leader Benny Wenda and his international network of orchestrating the violence in order to make headlines days before the United Nations (UN) general assembly sits in New York.[10] Mr Wenda is no stranger to stoking deadly riots, as he is himself a fugitive for doing just that in Abepura in 2002. Benny Wenda incited a crowd of 50 to attack some shops, which resulted in two people dead.[11] While detained facing trial, he escaped from Indonesia and fled to the United Kingdom (UK). From Oxford in London, the fugitive Mr Wenda convenes a disingenuous campaign for West Papuan independence, particularly appealing to the forces of imperialism against Indonesia. To say the least, a movement which regularly incites violence against those of another ethnicity, often resulting in the slaughter of innocents, is not one to be endorsed.

Fake videos, real lies

When violent riots by Papuan separatists break out, the Indonesian government sometimes responds by “throttling” or blocking the internet. While this raises a hue and cry by unenlightened West Papuan independence supporters internationally, this action has a rational basis. Often the violent riots are begun by the spreading of fake videos online, making false claims about mistreatment from Indonesian authorities. In the case of Wamena recently, the bloodthirsty riots were set off by rumours circulated that a high school teacher had used a racist remark against students. Papua police Chief Rudolf Alberth Rodja, however, stressed that the police had investigated the alleged school and teacher, and confirmed that this incident was fabricated, and was a blatant untruth. He said that it is believed that this was hoax information deliberately distributed in order to fuel riots.[12] As Papuan separatists have a history of telling lies in order to whip up support, it is not unreasonable to accept the police account here.

For example, the Papuan separatists told the mother of all lies in December 2018, when they made the preposterous claim that the Indonesian military had used white phosphorus munitions against them in the Nduga region after a flag raising ceremony. They had the active support of corporate journalists who had made the same unsubstantiated claims against the Syrian government during the US led war for regime change.[13] That is, Papuan independence advocates willingly worked with the corporate media which repeatedly referred to ISIS and Al Qaeda as “rebels” and “revolutionaries” in Syria, in order to use the same lies against the Indonesian government. These spurious claims were soon debunked as utterly fallacious, given that the Indonesian military had never stationed artillery in West Papua, let alone million dollar jet fighters. And the only helicopters the Indonesian military has there are transport choppers, unequipped with any offensive weapons, which would be needed to fire ANY ordinance.[14]

West Papuan separatists and their entourage need to spread whoppers because the politics of their independence movement falters at the first question. Prime among the distributors of falsifications is “human rights” lawyer Veronica Koman. Despite being herself of Chinese-Indonesian ancestry, Koman is inherently anti-China and pro-imperialist. On October 1, she posted on her Twitter account a claim of solidarity with the violent Blackshirt rioters in Hong Kong, who in turn claimed solidarity with Uyghurs.[15] The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are currently targeted by the CIA for destabilisation, and, they hope, regime change. Their aim is to counter the rising socialism of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by any means – including funding those engaging in armed violence, and up to life-threatening extreme jihadism. But Koman’s anti-socialist fealty to the Pentagon is not the reason she is wanted.

Veronica Koman has been charged with serious crimes by Indonesian police. She refused three times to be questioned, who then charged her with violating the Electronic Information and Transactions Law and the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Law.[16] Racial and ethnic harmony is crucially important in a large multi-ethnic country such as Indonesia. However, Koman had repeatedly been stoking ethnic conflict by posting false information which aided violent riots in Surabaya. Instead of defending herself on charges of provoking deadly unrest and fuelling ethnic conflict, Koman fled to Australia. Understandably, the Indonesian government issued an Interpol red notice for her arrest,[17] but whether this will be enacted by the Australian government remains to be seen. Since fleeing as a fugitive to Australia, she has since appeared on ABC and SBS with favourable coverage, but without mentioning the criminal charges laid against her.  Unfortunately, a lack of basic honesty is de rigueur for pro-US “human rights” advocates.

Left parties blind on West Papua

Some Australian left parties blindly raise both hands when it comes to a request for volunteers for West Papuan independence. They barely lose a step before blundering into yet another international issue without checking its bona fides. Never one to miss a chance to embellish the Australian government, the Socialist Alliance chimes in with a demand that the federal government grant Veronica Koman protection and not hand her over to the Indonesian government. At the least, they display First World disrespect for the legal system of a Third World neighbour. They then pose the rhetorical comparison of West Papua to the case of East Timor.[18] If someone hasn’t told them, comparisons between East Timor – which after a long struggle won independence from Indonesia – and West Papua, are like chalk and cheese. Likewise, Socialist Alternative echoes the East Timor comparison, and swears to uphold all South Pacific struggles for  “self-determination”.[19] The Communist Party of Australia[20] and the Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist[21] both reflexively hail the cross-class “people” of West Papua.

These left parties have forgotten their “Marxism”. Even if it was the case that Papuan militia did not slaughter innocent civilians, did not foster and foment ethnic violence against Indonesians, and did not spread lies and falsifications – Marxists would not automatically endorse self-determination or independence. While Marxists stand against national oppression, advocating the exercise of self-determination is dependent on a number of factors. The most important of these is whether or not it advances the struggle for socialism in that country, in the region, and internationally. Even accounting for the fact that, due to historical factors, the working class of Indonesia is more developed than that of West Papua, there is ample space for working class Papuan and Indonesian collaboration in struggles against capitalism in the region. For example, that which is facilitated by the common language of Bahasa Indonesian.

In stark contrast to liberal and petty-bourgeois nationalists, Marxists do not engage in the shadow boxing of a “good” versus a “bad” nation. What is required are methods of political struggle which advance the class consciousness of workers of all nations. “Self-determination” and/or “independence” may or may not play a role in this process. Either way, efforts to forge Marxist vanguard parties across the entirety of the Asia-Pacific remains essential.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=7579 (03-10-2019)

[2] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/protesters-burn-buildings-in-indonesias-papua-province (03-10-2019)

[3] https://www.nst.com.my/world/2019/09/525226/thousands-scramble-flee-unrest-indonesias-papua (03-10-2019)

[4] Ibid, 1.

[5] https://www.theislanderonline.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=11679 (03-10-2019)

[6] https://papuawest.com/2018/12/12/government-to-shift-focus-from-infrastructure-to-education-in-papua/ (03-10-2019)

[7] https://news.mongabay.com/2017/10/indonesias-big-development-push-in-papua-qa-with-program-overseer-judith-j-dipodiputro/ (03-10-2019)

[8] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/09/30/good-neighbors-papuans-help-non-natives-flee-violence-in-wamena.html (03-10-2019)

[9] http://lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/violence-papua-could-get-worse (03-10-2019)

[10] https://www.muswellbrookchronicle.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=7281 (03-10-2019)

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/27/west-papua-independence-movement-spreads-more-false-claims/ (03-10-2019)

[12] https://www.smh.com.au/world/oceania/protests-sparked-by-hoax-racism-claims-kill-injure-dozens-20190924-p52uez.html (03-10-2019)

[13] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326 (03-10-2019)

[14] https://infowestpapua.com/2018/12/26/phosphorous-bomb-propaganda-in-west-papua-a-seriously-fake-yet-silly-issue-administered-by-australian-media/ (03-10-2019)

[15] https://twitter.com/veronicakoman (03-10-2019)

[16] https://jakartaglobe.id/context/police-issue-red-notice-to-interpol-to-track-and-capture-veronica-koman/ (03-10-2019)

[17] https://en.tempo.co/read/1250173/veronica-koman-fugitive-police-issue-red-notice-for-interpol (04-10-2019)

[18] https://socialist-alliance.org/news/west-papua-australias-new-timor-leste (04-10-2019)

[19] https://redflag.org.au/node/6895 (04-10-2019)

[20] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1888/11-west-papua.html (04-10-2019)

[21] https://www.cpaml.org/posting1.php?id=967 (04-10-2019)

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence

A local government building in Manokwari was set ablaze by separatist Papuans. Image from http://www.theguardian.com

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence

04-09-2019 – The desecration of a national flag, destruction of shops, torching of government buildings. Are we talking about Hong Kong? Try West Papua. In the former, Western governments materially aid separatists[1], while in the latter Western governments diplomatically aid separatists – for now. Separatism in itself, under certain circumstances, may be the correct political move for an oppressed class or nation. Likewise, a movement for independence – up to, and including, the right to form a separate state, may, under specific conditions, resolve political issues in favour of working people. Independence, if achieved against the interests of domestic and international capital, may clear the way for an advance of a workers’ struggle for liberation. In West Papua today, however, a much different situation transpires.

Student disrespect

Just before August 17 – Indonesia’s national day – a post on WhatsApp by a youth organisation displayed a defaced Indonesian flag lying in a gutter near a University dormitory in Java.[2] In response, Indonesian soldiers descended on the University dormitory and accused Papuan students of disrespecting the national flag. During this incident, some soldiers apparently used racist insults, calling them “monkeys”.[3] Reports of this incident triggered protests across Indonesia and throughout West Papua. While racist insults are of course unacceptable, a heated emotional response to the national flag being desecrated on the eve of the national day is understandable. After all, Indonesia’s national day marks the proclamation of Indonesian independence from Dutch colonialism (August 17, 1945), which had ruled Indonesia for 350 years.[4] While nationalists exist in Indonesia as in other countries, animated reaction against Papuan students disrespecting the Indonesian national flag, while being hosted at a Javan University, was likely.

The separatist or independence protests that ensued as a result appeared to have a clear target – Indonesian government built infrastructure, government buildings, and Indonesian commercial activity. Despite the Papuan students using these services, alongside Indonesians themselves, the separatists displayed scant regard for them, or for the danger posed to human life in the process. Like Hong Kong, the protests were in effect violent riots. In Manokwari, the capital of the West Papua province, the local government building was torched and reduced to ashes.[5] The separatists pulled down power poles and set fire to vehicles.[6] A market in Fakfak was set ablaze, as was a prison in Sorong – leading to the escape of 250 prisoners.[7] Also in Sorong, the airport was vandalised and many shops were looted.[8]

Liberation?

The demand “Free West Papua!” sounds alluring and enticing, and is redolent of a struggle for justice and right. In reality, the slogan is devoid of political content, not to speak of class content. More than 200 years ago, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels railed against anarchist opposition in the First International, which called for “freedom” in the abstract, regardless of the development of society in an economic or political sense. “Freedom” in itself is a meaningless term in politics, unless it is referred to in concrete terms and to a certain class it seeks to liberate. West Papuan separatists appear to see “freedom” in terms of being released from integration with Indonesia, or specifically, from non-Papuan Indonesians. While there is some nationalism and racism directed against Papuans from ultra-nationalist groups within Indonesia, this is not reflective of Indonesia as a whole. At the same time, there are eerie elements of Papuan disapproval of Indonesians on the basis of their ethnicity. This does not endow the West Papuan independence struggle – under its current leadership – with wholesome aims.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated that he understood why Papuans were offended, and asked that both sides forgive each other as “fellow countrymen”.[9] The governor of East Java, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, apologised for the behaviour of the Indonesian nationalist mobs, and said it does not “represent the…people of East Java”.[10] These are scarcely the words of government leaders who are allegedly carrying out systemic discrimination against Papuans. The extent to which the Indonesian government always enacts fair treatment of Papuans is of course up for debate. However, the intent of the Indonesian government appears to be consistent – it is attempting to integrate Papuans into the whole of Indonesia. In 2001, the Indonesian government granted Papua a status of “Special Autonomy”. This may well be rejected by separatist Papuans, but “liberation” has to have a more positive political program than simply rejecting Indonesia.

A liberation movement also needs a basic honesty, so that all can clearly see that the cause is just. Yet in the hands of the current political leadership, a lack of honesty is the major drawback for the West Papuan independence movement. Time and again, the West Papuan separatist leaders have fabricated blatant untruths in their attempt to whip up false hysteria against “Indonesia”. In December last year, Papuan separatists made the fatuous claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against independence supporters. They allied themselves with reporters who openly sided with US imperialism against Syria, where the US government accused the Syrian government – without evidence –  of using chemical weapons, while at the same time admitting they had themselves used white phosphorus munitions against civilians in Syria.[11] Around April this year, Papuan separatists were backed by Western NGOs in claiming – without a shred of evidence – that 32 000 people had been displaced in the Nduga region in West Papua, and that 34 schools had been damaged by the Indonesian military.[12] No verification was provided. But this doesn’t stop Papuan separatists from trying it on again.

Instigators of violence

Papuan independence supporters raised their hands in horror at the Indonesian government blocking the internet in response to the outbreaks of violence wrought by the crowds they had incited. The Indonesian government claimed that this move was made in order to stop Papuan separatists sharing fake videos to further incite more violence. There were some reports that the Papuan students were circulating a video allegedly showing a student being killed by Indonesian soldiers, which was entirely fake. Without offering the Indonesian government any political support, they appear to be telling the truth here. Why? Because the West Papuan separatists have a history of retailing bald faced lies to artificially pump up support for their movement. It is not beyond belief that the violent riots which occurred in the last week of August were fuelled by the separatists spreading a fake video online. Given that this then lead to a government building being burnt to the ground, an airport vandalised, shops looted, markets set on fire, power poles being felled and more – it is in turn not unreasonable for the Indonesian government to “throttle” or even block the internet in an attempt to prevent further violence.

The political violence instigated by the separatists only follows on from the instigation of military conflict by armed West Papuan militia. Time and again, the armed West Papuan groups provoke violent conflict with the Indonesian military only to claim “oppression” when the inevitable retaliation ensues. It is similar to the situation in Syria, where US/UK armed death squads would attack Syrian government positions, and then claim that the Syrian response to overt violence against them was evidence of an “oppressive regime”.  In December last year, armed Papuan militia slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers constructing the Trans Papua Highway through the Nduga region.[13] Understandably, the Indonesian security forces had to move in to, at least, recover their bodies and secure the area. Hence, the Indonesian government claims that the military build up in parts of West Papua occurs only in response to the violent attacks from the separatists – are not without foundation.

Rejecting development

At the time, Sebby Sambom of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claimed that the group deliberately attacked the road workers building the Trans Papua Highway because they reject all infrastructure development programs in West Papua.[14] !  This statement is revealing. The West Papuan separatists appear to be aware that the infrastructure development programs paid for and installed by the Indonesian government will benefit Papuans and non-Papuans alike, and will lead to increased economic activity, contributing to a higher standard of living for all. If this occurs, political support for separatist independence would be likely to dissipate. So to keep alive their aim of separatism, 31 innocent Indonesian workers had to die – and with no apology. Is it any wonder that the separatist Papuans do not attract sympathetic Indonesians to their cause?

The question of the economic and industrial development of West Papua is important. Without offering political support to the Indonesian government, the fact remains that the Indonesian government is ramping up its efforts to connect West Papua, parts of which are still inaccessible due to mountainous and jungle covered territory. The Trans Papua highway is a part of this, but there are also moves to extend electricity coverage to more areas of West Papua. In fact, the Indonesian state owned electricity company PLN recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Indonesian military and some Universities, where the aim is to provide electricity to 99% of the villages across West Papua in 2019.[15] Is this the type of development which is rejected by the armed West Papuan groups – connecting villages to electricity, which have never seen it before? West Papuan independence advocates can arguably claim that the Trans Papua highway will only benefit Indonesians, as most Papuans do not own cars or commercial vehicles. However, it is not plausible to suggest that the electrification of nearly all of West Papua will not benefit Papuans, especially those from the highland areas which are currently in darkness.

Transmigration

The critical issue which is driving some Papuans towards nationalist and pro-independence views is the desire to end the transmigration of Austronesians to Papua from other parts of Indonesia. The transmigration is significant, with Austronesians now making up around 51% of the population to the approximately 49% Melanesian indigenous population. However, there remain huge regional variances within the Papuan provinces. While Austronesian and other transmigrants now outnumber Papuans in urban and coastal areas, Papuans are still the overwhelming majority in the highland interior.[16] To some extent, fears of being pushed out of their own land MAY be understandable IF there was systematic and blatant exclusion of Papuans by the Indonesian government and those who tend to dominate commercial activity. However, it is apparent that the Indonesian government is attempting to integrate them into the “Unitary State” of Indonesia, through granting regional autonomy, spending vast sums on transport and electricity infrastructure, and, where possible,  providing healthcare and education for all residents.

Doubtless, there may be many blemishes on the record of the Indonesian government while attempting to implement their aims. Despite this, the Indonesian government  cannot stand by and allow armed Papuan groups to engage in wanton killings of non-Papuan residents. Nor can it stand by and allow Papuan separatists to engage in terroristic violence such as provoking gunfights with police and the military OR the incitement of crowds to commit riotous acts such as setting ablaze government buildings, markets, shops or transport facilities.

It is true that Marxists MAY sometimes give critical support to a movement for national liberation IF it is directed against imperialism.  However, the current West Papuan “liberation” movement is oriented in the opposite direction. It aims to enlist imperialism to help achieve its aims, both because it knows it cannot defeat the Indonesian military on its own, and because it does not aim to convince Indonesians, let alone Indonesian workers, of the justness of its cause. So there are appeals to the United Nations, to British and Australian parliamentarians, and so on. The British ruling class has partially come to the party, by offering fugitive independence figure Benny Wenda “asylum” in London.[17] The nationalism of a small state often means, in turn, recognising the nationalism of the largest states, as a quid-pro-quo. Working people, from Indonesia, Papua, the UK and Australia – on the other hand – have a material interest in politically combatting the nationalism of small and large states, in their combined struggle for liberation from capitalist imperialism. Papuan separatists, and their supporters, need to decide where they stand.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (26-08-2019)

[2] https://globalvoices.org/2019/08/25/indonesia-sends-in-troops-and-cuts-internet-as-west-papua-protesters-denounce-racist-treatment-of-students/ (28-08-2019)

[3] Ibid, 2.

[4] http://www.bali3000.com/article/IndependenceDayofRepublicofIndonesia.asp (28-08-2019)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/explained/article/3023640/explained-riots-indonesias-papua-region (28-08-2019)

[6] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6337270/jakarta-to-hold-probe-after-papuan-protest/digital-subscription/ (28-08-2019)

[7] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/indonesia-papua-riots-unrest-history-problems-development-11836300 (28-08-2019)

[8] https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Papua-violence-shows-Indonesia-s-fragile-grip-on-eastern-provinces (28-08-2019)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/20/indonesian-president-calls-for-calm-after-violent-protests-in-west-papua (28-08-2019)

[10] Ibid, 9.

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2018/12/30/west-papua-corporate-media-enlisted-to-spread-false-claims-fake-news/ (29-08-2019)

[12] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/27/west-papua-independence-movement-spreads-more-false-claims/ (29-08-2019)

[13] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2176302/indonesia-probing-reports-rebels-executed-31-construction (30-08-2019)

[14] https://indonesiaexpat.biz/news/free-papua-movement-kills-workers/ (30-08-2019)

[15] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/pln-signs-deal-to-expand-electricity-in-two-provinces-in-papua.html (01-09-2019)

[16] https://www.globalresearch.ca/indonesias-west-papua-settlers-dominate-coastal-regions-highlands-still-overwhelmingly-papuan/5569676 (01-09-2019)

[17] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-49009326 (01-09-2019)