West Papua: Armed Separatists Wage Terror in Puncak

Ilaga residents flee

Above: Residents of Ilaga flee from  West Papuan armed separatists. Image from http://www.en.tempo.co

06-06-2021: Throughout April and May, armed West Papuan separatist militia rampaged through the Puncak Regency, causing mayhem and leaving a trail of blood and destruction. Ostensibly claiming to be part of a “resistance” to the “oppression” of Papuans within Indonesia, the sheer cruelty of their behaviour could well be interpreted as having another dark and sinister agenda. The noble sounding aims of “independence” and “freedom” for West Papua (the Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat) remain abstract until and unless it is connected with a definite set of political ideas and, most importantly, a political program. Without concrete examples, on paper no one is opposed to “independence” and “freedom” per se. At the same time, these broad aims – if they are genuinely held – should not be used as cover or a shroud for any acts of wanton violence. The means and ends must have a feasible correlation. While it is understood that not all political struggles can remain wholly pacifist, any use of violence must be justified on the scales of history.

Terror in the highlands

In the case of West Papua, justifying the barbarity of the small handful of Papuans who are prepared to take up arms against “Indonesia” has become an impossible task. The Indonesian government refers to the armed separatist Papuan militia as KKB (Armed Criminal Group), and it is difficult to disagree with this designation. On the 8th of April, Papuan KKB entered the Julukoma Village of the Beoga District, Puncak Regency, and approached the home of Oktovianus Rayo – a local elementary school teacher. They shot him dead. The next day, the KKB entered the home of junior high school teacher Yonatan Randen, and also shot him dead.[1] This was after the Papuan separatists had burned down three local schools. Clearly, the separatists were targeting, in the most brutal manner possible, the education system which they see as “Indonesian” – but which educates all citizens regardless of ethnicity. Needless to say, the execution of school teachers is hardly a campaign of political persuasion. It is outright terror, to intimidate anyone who does not back separatist “independence”.

On Sunday the 11th of April, the separatist militia torched nine rooms of the junior high school at Beoga. After being repelled from the Beoga airport, the KKB burned the local school and several houses at Dambet Village. Here, they were engaged in a firefight with Brigadier General Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha and seven other soldiers. General Putu was shot dead in this exchange.[2] It took 100 military personnel to re-take Beoga airport from the armed separatists, from where 42 “migrants” (transmigrants from other parts of Indonesia) had to be evacuated to Mimika for their own safety.[3] The fact that the transmigrants (who are generally Indonesians from Java, Sumatra or Sulawesi) had to flee for their lives under the protection of the Indonesian security forces speaks volumes. Advocates of “Free West Papua” will not admit it, but this extreme anti-internal migrant racism appears to be the central rationale for Papuan separatism. It is acknowledged that some tensions can be caused by an influx of non-Papuans over time, but threatening to kill them is something else entirely.

More Terror

The KKB separatists did not let up during the month of May. On Monday May 3rd, the militia attacked in the Ilaga District of Puncak Regency. They set fire to the Mayubwri Elementary School, the teachers’ residence and the Puskesmas Building, which was used as a community kiosk. The separatists also sabotaged a number of local roads, as well as the Kimak Bridge.[4] They didn’t stop there. A few days later, the KKB burned down a public community centre, used locally for learning activities, in the Ilaga Kimak Village.[5] Tracing the trail of destruction illuminates the clear intent of the separatists. Attack, burn down, destroy or sabotage any public infrastructure provided by the Indonesian government. In fact, even attack and kill public school teachers as a “warning”. Again, the terror and intimidation towards the local community is obvious. Papua will be “free” – or else. Workers internationally cannot offer one iota of support to this blackmail.

Claims that the Papuan separatists only target Indonesian police and military forces are false – they also target civilians. On the 28th of May, residents from the Oksamol District reported that the community revolted against the attacks from the separatists which threatened civilians and also took the life of officer Mario Sanoi. They affirmed that they took up traditional weapons against the KKB – who did not reside anywhere in the local area – and drove them away, even as they fired at them with guns.[6] So much for separatism being a popular choice amongst the community!

NKRI declares KKB to be “terrorist”

Not without reason, in response the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) declared the armed Papuan separatist groups to be terrorists according to Indonesian law. In a press conference on April 29, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, stated that the acts of the KKB and all organisations and persons affiliated with it are now regarded as terrorist under Law No. 5 of 2018 and associated amendments. Terrorists are people who plan, instigate and organise terrorism. And “terrorism” is “…any act that uses violence or threats of violence that creates a sense of terror….that can cause mass casualties…cause damage or destruction….[to the] environment…public or international facilities, with the motive of ideology, politics and security.”[7]

When armed Papuan separatists execute public school teachers, set fire to elementary and junior high school buildings, attack and damage roads and bridges – it can hardly be argued that such acts are not terrorist. While workers internationally cannot offer the Indonesian government political support, especially its energetic campaign to inject almost all of Indonesia[8] with experimental Covid “vaccines” in response to a pandemic of lies, there can scarcely be opposition to its moves to prevent separatist violence in West Papua. After being officially declared “terrorist”, the onus is now on Papuan separatist groups and their supporters to declare their real position in relation to terrorism. Further, they must utterly repudiate the killing and/or targeting of non-Papuan civilians, as well as Papuans who do not support separatist independence. If they do not, we are entitled to view West Papuan “independence” as a campaign of ethnic violence and terror with the most unsavoury of intentions.

Left parties alibi racial violence

The knee-jerk reaction of liberals the world over is to bow down before an indigenous population and excuse their misdeeds no matter how heinous. Self-proclaimed socialist and “Marxist” parties, on the other hand, should know a lot better. Unfortunately, many of them display a championship level of credulity when it comes to West Papua. While being the first to shout to the heavens about real or imagined racial discrimination against black/indigenous/”people of colour” in the First World, they often fall silent or shift uneasily when shown examples where Melanesian Papuan militia have targeted or killed Austronesians or others from the approximately 1300[9] non-Papuan ethnicities who transmigrate into Papua. Many of these “transmigrants” have in fact lived in peace in Papua alongside everyone else there for 30 years or more. Yet racial violence targeting transmigrants in Indonesia should not be overlooked when it is carried out by separatist Papuans, indigenous or otherwise.

The Socialist Alliance (SA) very selectively reports on incidents such as the one that took the life of Indonesian General Putu. In their Green Left newspaper, SA claim that General Putu was shot “while travelling” near Dambet Village in Puncak Regency.[10] They do not mention that General Putu and his group of security forces were not “travelling” but were in fact in pursuit of the separatists which had torched the local schools and executed two school teachers. They go on to claim that there are around 5000 IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the Nduga Regency, who had to flee “Indonesian security operations”.[11] They do not mention that these particular security operations were a response to armed Papuan separatists murdering 31 road workers in cold blood who were constructing bridges on the Yigi and Aurak Rivers in December 2018,[12] and subsequent clashes since that time. Needless to say, the slaughter of any Indonesian – civilian or military – will naturally force the security forces to respond. Moreover, one can only imagine the response of the police and security forces in Australia, the US or Europe, if armed separatists attacked and killed anyone they saw as representing or working with the governments of those states.

Socialist Alternative (SAlt) likewise wave the flag for West Papuan “independence”, regardless of the consequences. In an article in Red Flag, SAlt decry the denial of parole for five Papuans charged with treason in relation to riots which erupted across West Papua and Indonesia in 2019.[13] While initially claiming the charges related to a “peaceful protest”, the article later admits that in fact the rioters had burned down the local parliament in Manokwari, as well as prisons in Sorong and Jayapura. Again we must ask – what exactly would be the response of the authorities in Australia, the US or Europe if rioters torched a parliament building and a couple of prisons? Anyone who attempted this in the first world would themselves go to prison for a very long time. Why should it be any different in Indonesia? Moreover, as we reported at the time, these riots were sparked by reports of Papuan university students desecrating the Indonesian national flag on the eve of Indonesia’s national Independence Day of August 17. While it can be acknowledged that hurling of the label “monkeys” at the Papuan students by some soldiers was wrong, it is understandable that they were incensed by the gross disrespect displayed by separatist students.[14] This is after the Indonesian government goes to some length to ensure Papuan youth have the opportunity to access various levels of education.

Human Rights?

The Spartacist League (SL) are usually the last of the self-affirmed Trotskyist parties to fall for the “human rights” false flag, but they make an exception in the case of West Papua. After the riots of 2019, they even fell for the fake charms of Veronica Koman, who they hail as “courageous” and a “defender of Papuan activists”. They claim that Ms Koman “fled” to Australia after sharing videos of police brutality on social media.[15] This is a distortion which could have been sourced from the corporate media. As we reported at the time,[16] what actually occurred is that Ms Koman was spreading fake videos online, in an effort to whip up the protests which certainly did flare partially in response to her social media posting. It is an offence under Indonesian law to spread hoaxes online, and the penalty could be six years in jail and a $US 70 000 fine. What is more, the riots that occurred with the help of Ms Koman’s incendiary videos took the lives of 40 people – both Papuan and non-Papuan. After this, she refused to come forward for police questioning several times, and then fled to Australia. So in reality, Ms Koman fled to avoid a charge of racial incitement. So much for the principles of a “human rights” lawyer!  The SL seriously needs to check with whom it is aligning itself.

The Bolshevik-Leninist organisation uses extensive quotes from Lenin in an effort to justify their support for what they see as a West Papuan struggle for “national liberation”.[17] They recognise more reality than others on the left in relation to Papua and Indonesia, and yet still come up short. They can see that West Papuan nationalism is a barrier that workers need to overcome, and propose that cross-national class unity between West Papuan and Indonesian workers should be the goal. This appears to align with “Marxist” theory, IF the reality of the basis of the “independence” movement is ignored. The unfortunate circumstance is the fact that the central pillar of separatist independence – armed or not – is racial tension and antagonism by Papuans against non-Papuans. In essence, Papuans want the transmigrants (mainly Indonesians of multiple ethnicities) out, so a Papuan only “state” can be formed. To achieve this, a small minority of Papuans are prepared to enact murderous racial violence.

This is why socialists cannot extend one iota of support to the notion of “Free West Papua”. ANY form of racial and ethnic hostility cannot be excused, regardless of who carries it out. Working people also have no interest in fostering and fomenting a national conflict, unless it is a rare case of using the methods of class struggle to combat national oppression in order to advance towards socialism. Papuan separatism has no such aims. The unity of Papuan, Indonesian and international workers is  certainly needed; but only to ensure basic justice regardless of nationality, race and ethnicity.

WORKERS  LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] Immediately Arrest KKB Killer 2 Teachers in Papua! – (realpapua.com) (05-06-2021)

[2] Tragedy of the Fall of Brigadier General Gusti Putu: The Sacrifice of Lives Against the Cruelty of Papuan KKB – Good Morning Papua (05-06-2021)

[3] Ibid, 2.

[4] KKB Burns Community Health Center and School in Ilaga Papua | Papua Daily (05-06-2021)

[5] Papuan separatists burn down public learning activity center in Puncak – ANTARA News (05-06-2021)

[6] Berita Otonomi Khusus Papua – West Papua Press – The Courage of Papuan Oksamol Residents, Against KKB Terrorists Using Traditional Weapons (05-06-2021)

[7] Armed Criminal Groups in Papua Categorized as Terrorists: Minister – Medcom.id (05-06-2021)

[8] Indonesia permits private COVID-19 vaccination scheme | Reuters (05-06-2021)

[9] https://jakartaglobe.id/culture/unity-diversity-indonesias-six-largest-ethnic-groups (06-06-2021)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-crackdown-feared-following-indonesian-intelligence-chiefs-death (06-06-2021)

[11] Ibid, 10.

[12] https://westpapuanow.com/2018/12/04/papua-separatists-group-killed-31-civilian-workers-in-nduga/ (06-06-2021)

[13] https://redflag.org.au/article/imprisoned-papuan-activists-denied-parole-indonesia (06-06-2021)

[14] https://redfireonline.com/2019/09/04/west-papua-separatists-incite-violence/ (06-06-2021)

[15] https://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/239/indonesia.html (06-06-2021)

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

[17] https://bolshevik-leninist.org/independence-for-west-papua/ (06-06-2021)

Land Forces 2021: No to War on China!

China bases surround

Above: Map showing US military bases encircling the People’s Republic of China (PRC)

25-04-2021: The threat of war in the Asia-Pacific looms as large as it ever has in 2021. Or should we say, the Indo Asia Pacific. The language emanates from the highest levels of Washington’s war machine, which operates a number of “Commands” in regions across the globe to maintain the US Empire. In 2018, the US Pacific Command was renamed the Indo-Pacific Command,[1] as US imperialism sought to draw India into their efforts to militarily encircle the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Transparently, US imperialism and its allies such as the governments of the European Union (EU), Australia and Japan, are hell-bent on potentially apocalyptic military confrontations with Red China, demographically the largest nation on Earth. The PRC’s gigantic and still expanding socialist economy is rapidly overtaking the faltering capitalist economies of the West – something the US/EU ruling classes will risk anything to prevent from coming to pass.

The formation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad”, is another dead giveaway as to the intentions. Hardly an innocent undertaking, the Quad is a glaring attempt to draw more US allies into an explicit anti-China military alliance – containing the US, Japan, Australia and India. Its apologists deny that the Quad is being set up as an Asian NATO,[2] but here the axiom of never believing anything until it is officially denied cannot be more apposite. The geographical surrounding of mainland China from Japan to its East, Australia to its South, and India to its West is easily triangulated by the briefest of perusals of a high school map of the region. As in the 1950s and 60s, the once supreme Western ruling classes are yet again embroiled in a deadly game to “contain and roll back communism”. This time, arguably, the stakes are even higher.

Military grade weapons expo

This is the geopolitical context which surrounds Brisbane hosting a weapons manufacturers expo in early June. The very title of the conference indicates not just a military grade weapons garage sale, but a subliminal message as to who the organisers wish to portray as the boogeyman “we” need to arm ourselves against. The first line of the publicity for the expo of Land Forces Australia Indo Asia Pacific International Land Defence Exposition states openly that the expo showcases “equipment, technology and services for the armies of Australia and the Indo Asia Pacific”.[3] The explicit exclusion of China, by far the largest component of Asia, gives the game away. The weapons manufacturers such as Thales, Rheinmetall Defence, Boeing, DB Schenker, BAE Systems, EOS etc., are joined by the Queensland Government and the Australian Army as event sponsors.[4] The links between weapons manufacturers and the governments of capitalist countries have been well documented over the last century. Such governments prosecute wars which then feeds the profits of weapons manufacturers. Yet this does not occur without underlying politics driving it. Without being stated overtly, the prevailing politics of the corporate and government sponsors of Land Forces 2021 are directed against Red China.

To be sure, what exists in the PRC is not a socialist society but rather a socialist state. And this state is heavily and bureaucratically deformed, both by the multi-class character of its 1949 revolution, and the saddling of this state with the Maoist/Stalinist politics of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Despite this, the capitalist mode of production was overthrown, land was nationalised, the predominant and strategic means of production remain publicly owned, and the economy is administered through five-year plans. This – rather than the politics of the CPC – is what must be defended by working people. At the same time, to synchronise the socialist state of the PRC with socialist politics, what is required is the rule of elected workers’ councils comprised of all political tendencies committed to the defence of modern China. That is to say, genuine Leninist-Trotskyism must prevail over the distortions of Maoism/Stalinism, despite its relative popularity in the PRC due to 20th Century history.

Disrupt LandForces 2021

Unfortunately, neither the defence of the PRC state against US/AUST imperialism, nor even opposition to war on China is on the agenda of the activists organising a series of protests against the military expo, under the hashtag of “#DisruptLandForces”.[5] In fact, by the omission of material opposing wars fuelled, led and directed by the US Empire, #DisruptLandForces can find themselves on the same side of the barricades as the US/EU/AUST imperialism, even if this is not their intention. The wars that threaten humanity in 2021 are wars waged by the imperialist bloc and their allies -US/EU/AUST/JAP/CAN/Israel/Saudi Arabia etc., against the non-imperialist bloc and their allies – China, Russia, Iran, the DPRK, Libya, Syria, Venezuela and so on. Most of these wars are proxy regime change operations waged by imperialism against the allies of the non-imperialist bloc. Examples are the destruction of Green Libya in 2011, the Nazi coup in Ukraine in 2014, the failed regime change war on Syria from 2011 on, and attempted regime change destabilisations in Lebanon,[6] Algeria,[7] Sudan,[8] the Philippines,[9] Thailand[10] and Myanmar[11]. Workers must resolutely oppose all such regime change wars and attempted colour revolutions organised and funded by imperialism as a matter of self-defence, even if this means a temporary bloc with governments targeted by Anglo/US imperialism which could not be described as left-leaning or even progressive.

Moreover, #DisruptLandForces activists implore progressive folk to picket Land Forces 2021 primarily on the basis that weapons manufacturers will make millions from making weapons of war. While this is true in itself, the implication that there should be no army, or that no nation should maintain and operate a defence force will be automatically rejected by the working class. The working class cannot be won to a position that their nation-state should reduce all military spending to zero, and nor should leftists make such an attempt. This is effectively a demand for the capitalist state to abolish itself, and while workers are no automatic fans of capitalism, they recognise that states as such cannot be abolished overnight.  Working people can, however, be won to positions which oppose imperialist wars, i.e. predatory wars of conquest waged by the Anglo/US Empire – which today includes proxy wars of regime change and Western funded subversion. Therefore, the left should attempt to convince workers to oppose particular wars, not the manufacture of weapons per se.  


Myanmar


At the same time, there is obviously a need for working people to oppose the $270 billion by 2030 defence spending plan of the Australian government, which was announced in June 2020[12]. This is because the Australian ruling class itself – through its government – hardly shies away from an admission that the vast bulk of this spending will be used to militarily confront and provoke China, albeit as junior sidekicks of the US government. They state openly that “we want a free and open Indo-Pacific”, i.e., one not “controlled” or even influenced by the PRC, but in fact presided over by the US and their allies. This is not even slightly realistic, as the PRC is the largest nation on earth, it is situated in the Asia-Pacific, and its economy is still growing rapidly. It is thus in a position to offer much needed economic development and infrastructure building projects to its near neighbours – something the Anglo/US powers simply cannot, given their geographical distance and their long-term economic woes. The only way the US/EU/AUST ruling classes can prevent this from happening is by sowing chaos, sabotage and destabilisation up to and including the collapse of states. Ergo, Myanmar today.

#DisruptLandforces proclaim their solidarity with the “people of Myanmar”.[13] Here they display their loyalty – perhaps unwittingly – to the very “colonisers” they claim to be protesting against. British imperialism certainly did rule what was then Burma until independence in 1948. Since then, the UK ruling class has not ceased its efforts to virtually recolonise Myanmar. It works in concert with the US state department to create and fund an entire “opposition” movement which will politically serve London and Washington, e.g., Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD).[14] They managed to subvert Myanmar’s societal institutions to such an extent that Suu Kyi became State Counsellor in 2015. The government of Myanmar had allowed this overt foreign intervention into Myanmar’s internal affairs for decades, as many third world countries generally welcome any financial assistance from the West.  However, the NLD, with backing from Wall Street, London and billionaire regime change kingmaker George Soros, had ensured by around 2015 that only they could “win” elections in Myanmar. Finally, on February 1 this year, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) stepped in and said enough is enough. Thus the military “coup” was in fact an act which defended the national sovereignty of Myanmar.[15]

The “anti-coup” protests in Myanmar since early February have in fact been the culmination of decades of US and UK government funding for scores of imperialist backed fronts posing as “civil society” organisations and “NGOs”. The narrative in the Western corporate media of the Tatmadaw mowing down entirely innocent and unarmed “protestors” in the streets of Myanmar is utterly false and is eerily reminiscent of the storyline spun by Western governments to cover their atrocious regime change wars in Libya and Syria.[16] As much as the Tatmadaw is demonised via the corporate press, it remains the only institution standing in the way of a total takeover by Washington and London. In a similar way in which the Pentagon’s regime change war on Syria was aimed at Russia (and Iran), today’s “uprising” in Myanmar has been carefully prepared by years and decades of covert funding for ANY opposition which could serve the interests of imperialism in its losing economic war with Beijing. Patently, Myanmar’s “protests” today are in fact a US/UK proxy war of regime change against Red China.[17]

West Papua

If #DisruptLandForces fall prey to deception in relation to Myanmar, they double and triple their illusions in relation to West Papua (the Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat). #DisruptLandForces, and many “peace” activists, imagine that the Indonesian government occupies West Papua, suppresses their culture, and uses armed force to take the lives of those who call for “independence”.[18] This inversion of reality is regurgitated by liberals the world over, who are generally not aware that they are being ensnared by the very people they claim to be fighting for. The West Papuan “independence” movement is not an innocent campaign for “human rights”, but an armed separatist insurgency predominantly motivated by ethnic antagonism. This inevitably spills over into murderous anti-Indonesian violence, which the Indonesian government must respond to. For example, in December 2018, armed Papuan separatists slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers constructing the Trans-Papua Highway.[19] Papuans who do not necessarily support separatist independence can also be targeted with lethal intent, as in the case of the town of Wamena in September 2019. On that occasion, Papuan separatist militia attacked and burnt down sections of the town, killing 30, including 8 non-Papuan Indonesians.[20]

This is not to say that there are no political and economic problems existing in West Papua. Yet Indonesia is far from an imperialist entity, and all indications are that the Indonesian government is attempting to include, rather than exclude, Papuans within the “Unitary State of Indonesia”. The Indonesian government regularly spends billions of rupiah in economic and social development in West Papua, and not only by building the Trans-Papua Highway. Where the geographical terrain does not prevent it, education (up to Year 9) and health care is provided for West Papuans free of charge. The Indonesian government is also pressing ahead with its plans to provide electricity to all areas of West Papua, in some places which have never before seen a light bulb.[21] Would a separate West Papua, standing on its own, have such resources? To ask the question is to answer it.

For an end to hybrid wars

#DisruptLandForces is also silent on the major war underway against the global south and the workers of the world – the fake “Covid-19” pandemic. The “virus” provides a cover for lockdowns, which are a form of extreme violence against working and oppressed people – no less than physical wars waged with weapons. Thus we find that both #DisruptLandForces and Land Forces 2021 in fact both agree on  just who is the enemy: Covid-19 and China!  Needless to say, working people need to resist ALL hybrid wars waged by imperialism – against “Covid”, or China, or Russia, or whoever is the next target. Essential for this is the building of a vanguard party upholding genuine Marxism, with international sections dedicated to the supersession of capitalism and the inauguration of a socialist order.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com


[1] https://www.pacom.mil/About-USINDOPACOM/History/ (18-04-2021)

[2] https://thediplomat.com/2021/03/the-quad-what-it-is-and-what-it-is-not/ (18-04-2021)

[3] https://www.landforces.com.au/ (18-04-2021)

[4] https://www.landforces.com.au/about/sponsors-stakeholders.asp (18-04-2021)

[5] DISRUPT LANDFORCES – Disrupt Land Forces (18-04-2021)

[6] https://redfireonline.com/2020/05/09/lebanon-colour-revolution-redux/ (21-04-2021)

[7] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/18/algeria-us-foments-destabilisation-in-africa/ (21-04-2021)

[8] https://redfireonline.com/2019/06/20/sudan-us-plots-further-balkanisation/ (21-04-2021)

[9] https://redfireonline.com/2018/10/05/philippines-bogus-narratives-pushed-by-western-powers/ (21-04-2021)

[10] https://redfireonline.com/2020/10/11/thailand-the-us-empires-democracy-movement/ (21-04-2021)

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2021/04/08/myanmar-western-backed-subversion-aids-regime-change-war/ (21-04-2021)

[12] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/australia-unveils-10-year-defence-strategy/12408232 (21-04-2021)

[13] https://www.facebook.com/disruptlandforces/posts/126753716130377 (24-04-2021)

[14] https://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/05/wall-street-proxy-mother-suu-begins.html (24-04-2021)

[15] https://redfireonline.com/2021/02/07/myanmar-military-moves-against-us-subversion/ (24-04-2021)

[16] https://journal-neo.org/2021/03/31/myanmar-libya-and-syria-dangerous-parallels/ (24-04-2021)

[17] https://redfireonline.com/2021/04/08/myanmar-western-backed-subversion-aids-regime-change-war/ (24-04-2021)

[18] https://disruptlandforces.org/west-papua-resources/ (25-04-2021)

[19] https://redfireonline.com/2019/09/04/west-papua-separatists-incite-violence/ (25-04-2021)

[20] https://redfireonline.com/2019/10/05/wamena-papuan-militia-terrorise-civilians/ (25-04-2021)

[21] https://redfireonline.com/2020/12/23/west-papua-separatists-declare-fake-government/ (25-04-2021)

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: Separatists Declare Fake Government

23-12-2020: Perhaps taking their cue from the declaration of a fake coronavirus pandemic[1], some Papuan separatists have recently self-declared a fake “government in exile”. From the leafy green surrounds of Oxford in the United Kingdom – where he has become a citizen – Benny Wenda declared himself the President of the Provisional Government of West Papua[2], under the effective protection of British imperialism. Not amused, immediately following the December 1 announcement from Wenda in the name of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), the Indonesian government in Jakarta summonsed the British Ambassador with a request for the British Government to clarify its position of the declaration of a “Provisional Government” of West Papua.[3]  In the announcement Mr Wenda stated that the ULMWP now declares the Indonesian state’s presence in West Papua to be illegal, and it rejects and will not comply with any law issued by Jakarta.

“United” separatist movement?

Yet even the Papuan organisations pushing for separation from Indonesia, at whatever cost, are not all behind the ULMWP, nor behind Benny Wenda. Both the TPNPB (West Papua National Liberation Army) and the KNPB (West Papua National Committee) have rejected the declaration of self-government. Sebby Sambon from the TPNPB stated that the declaration was made in a foreign country (which it was – the UK), and that Benny Wenda could not be the President of West Papua because he is a citizen of a foreign country (which he is – the UK).[4] In addition, Benny Wenda’s self-declaration has likewise been rejected by the OPM (Free Papua Movement).[5] The TPNPB and the OPM are armed and militarised separatist organisations, while the KNPB is not.

Despite their apparent lack of arms, the KNPB, like the armed separatist forces, is not shy on issuing threats to any Papuans who work with the Indonesian government, or do not support separatist independence, or simply wish to live in peace alongside non-Papuan Indonesians. Victor Yeimo, the international spokesperson for the KNPB, recently posted a virtual death threat on Facebook aimed at the Chief of Police of Papua, Irjen Pol Paulus Waterpauw. Yeimo blamed the Indonesian military for recent deaths in the Puncak Jaya regency, but the local police chief stated that unidentified armed attackers shot two of the students.[6] Yeimo dismissed this and posted online: “Paul Waterpau…you and we are the same…you and I will die tomorrow. Death is for sure…the blood of the country boy you shed in these days is being accommodated into vengeance and curse for you….”.[7]

Dishonest independence movement

One can only imagine the response of the police of the Western governments of the US, Australia, and the UK if anyone had posted virtual death threats against high-ranking police chiefs on Facebook! They would be extremely lucky not to be arrested and detained immediately. Yet armed or unarmed Papuan separatists not only threaten the lives of police chiefs. They actually use physical violence – up to and including manslaughter – against Papuans who wish to live in peace with other Indonesians, and other Indonesians simply on the basis of their ethnicity. For example, during the riots in Wamena in September 2019, Papuan separatists turned against and began to physically attack other Papuans and Indonesians who attempted to calm them down, seeing that things were beginning to get out of hand. The attempts to placate separatist crowds unfortunately failed, and in the ensuing riot 33 people were killed, including 25 non-Papuans and 8 Papuans. 82 people were injured, including 38 Papuans and 44 non-Papuans. The separatists set ablaze 10 government offices, 351 shops, 15 motorcycles, 100 cars, 27 residential houses and the Mission market.[8] Understandably, many Wamena residents were left traumatised by the separatists’ extreme violence.

Yet, Benny Wenda and Co make the specious claim that their movement is a movement for the liberation of all Melanesians, or all Melanesians resident in West Papua. Commenting on Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Mr Wenda stated that he cannot be trusted, and that Papuans are “better off going back to where we came from. We are demographically, culturally, linguistically, part of Melanesia.”[9] Yet the dishonesty soon becomes apparent, as the example of the Wamena riots illustrate. Papuan separatists are not about uniting all Melanesians, for many of them are not at all prepared to injure or kill other Melanesians who do not support a separate state, nor those who wish to live side by side non-Papuan Indonesians. In effect, all Papuan separatist groups present all West Papuans and Indonesians resident in Papua, with an ultimatum: politically back “independence” or you could face what happened in Wamena: being burned alive or stabbed to death.[10]

The dishonesty of the West Papuan (in reality, the Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat) independence movement stems from the top. Benny Wenda himself has to re-hash ongoing lies about his background, which he uses to deceive Western liberals, and many left parties. Mr Wenda spins a deceptive narrative that he is an innocent exiled independence leader, who cannot return to his homeland because of his dedication to his political cause. The reality is not so saleable to hand-wringing humantarians in the West. Mr Wenda cannot return to Indonesia because he faces a jail term of 25 years if he does so. Why? He incited a mob to attack a police station and set of shops in Abepura in 2000, which killed one policeman and injured three others. One month after his first trial, he escaped from prison in Jayapura and fled to neighbouring Papua New Guinea, and from there fled to the UK.[11] Due to this history, Mr Wenda very carefully avoids mentioning it, or just blatantly lies, during instances such as being invited by high society to conduct an essentially bogus TED talk.[12]

Left parties bedazzled by “Free West Papua” slogan

One can possibly forgive Jennifer Robinson, who hosted Benny Wenda’s TED talk, for being spellbound by a heist such as the Papuan separatist movement. One the one hand, Jennifer Robinson, as a human rights lawyer, has served the working class by defending Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. On the other hand, Robinson has been beguiled by the tales of Papuan “oppression” allegedly at the hands of the Indonesian government, when she filed an appeal to the United Nations (UN) after the ULMWP’s declaration of a “Provisional Government”.[13] Jennifer Robinson is a lawyer accustomed to high-end clients, and thus her career ultimately demands loyalty to the establishment. However, the same could not be said for a slew of “socialist” parties who make claims to be fighting the capitalist elite, yet cannot see how they are being snared by Papuan separatists who know how to push their buttons.

Virtually all Australian left parties are transfixed by the deceptive slogan of “Free West Papua”. This includes the Socialist Alliance,[14] Socialist Alternative[15], Solidarity[16] and the Communist Party of Australia[17]. Yet Marxists do not support a separatist movement just to jump on a bandwagon. Every separatist movement must be examined carefully and weighed on its merits. For, generally speaking, socialists are in favour of larger states. In terms of economic and political development, and under both capitalism and socialism, a larger state offers economies of scale which small states cannot. Agitating and acting for a smaller separate state needs to have a mighty justification. Firstly, there has to be intractable oppression occurring on a wide scale. But is this the case in West Papua?

Rather than “oppress” West Papuans, the Indonesian government has, on the contrary, made extensive efforts to include West Papuans within the unitary state of Indonesia. Far from committing a “genocide”, the Indonesian government in fact provides free health care to all Papuans – where it is at all possible. In 2014, the Indonesian government launched Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN) – the largest single payer health care system in the world. It currently provides around 80% of Indonesians with health insurance[18] and aims to cover all Indonesians, including Papuans. Workers in Australia, and certainly in the USA, would more than welcome government provided health care.

Further, education is compulsory and free across all of Indonesia up to Year 9.[19] Secondary and Tertiary education is offered, but it is said to be competitive to enter. Papuans, along with the 300 other different ethnicities that make up Indonesia’s 275 million strong population, face no discriminatory basis for entry. While fees are charged for the higher levels of secondary and Tertiary education, there are no other barriers which prevent Papuan students from accessing any of this. Indeed, many Papuan students studying at Indonesian Universities are often the ones who agitate for West Papuan “independence” – while having their education at least partially subsidised by the Indonesian government. Given this, one can understand Indonesians feeling aggrieved that some West Papuan students then use this education to urge others to protest, or even take up arms, against Indonesia.

What is more, the Indonesian government is well into the process of striving to provide electricity across the 17 000 islands that make up the country – including West Papua. Hundreds of villages across West Papua have never previously had any access to electricity.[20] This means of course that everything closes when the sun goes down. Access to electric power also opens up the possibility of the starting of industrial and commercial activity, leading to economic development. Some of the physical terrain of West Papua is impenetrable jungle, yet the Indonesian government has prioritised the electrification project – spending millions doing so. It can scarcely be denied that the delivery of electric power enables a better standard of living across West Papua.

For independence or against transmigration?

The fine-sounding and exalted aims of “freedom” and “independence” are, in the case of Papuan separatism, part of an elaborate ruse to cover their real motivating factor – bitter opposition to Indonesian transmigration. Transmigration from Java, Sulawesi and other parts of Indonesia into West Papua is significant and causes some issues which can inadvertently disadvantage West Papuans. Yet there is no systemic or intentional attempt to drive out indigenous Papuans, nor eliminate their cultural traditions. At the time when the Indonesian government began “Special Autonomy” for West Papua, the government removed the former name “Irian Jaya”, and established regional parliaments. At that time, the flying of the West Papuan Morning Star flag was not banned. It was only later, when the flying of the flag marked armed separatist militia provocations, i.e., open war, that the Indonesian government took the step of prohibiting the display of the Morning Star flag. What appears to be an example of political repression is in fact a measure which is in place to prevent further violence.

There does appear to be some environmental problems, and problems of involuntary socio-economic marginalisation of Papuans due to the large influx of Indonesian transmigrants over many years. However, such problems can scarcely be addressed, and in fact can only be magnified, if some Papuans embark on a campaign of separatism which uses any and all means to whip up further antagonism towards Indonesia in general. For socialists, such a path is completely at odds with efforts to politicise workers in a progressive direction. Ethnic conflict, combined with hostility to those of your own ethnicity who hold a different perspective, only creates a toxic environment. It can only drive other Papuans and Indonesians further away – into the arms of the Indonesian government. Verbal denunciation, let alone threats of violence, to others who are skeptical of “independence” can only be counterproductive. Left parties internationally who cannot see this danger, and fan the flames of this self-destructive course, are being played like a deck of cards.

For Marxists, the key concern is the political and ideological development of the working class towards socialism. Needless to say, this cannot occur in West Papua if they are effectively being urged to turn against the Indonesian proletariat, which numbers in excess of 200 million workers. Issues with the Indonesian government can only be addressed through a firm alliance with Indonesian workers, and the workers of the Asia-Pacific. This can be done without unnecessarily disrupting the economic development of West Papua, which is currently being carried out by the Widodo administration. Ultimately what is required, however, is socialist development of regions such as West Papua as well as Indonesia, Australia and beyond. This posits the necessity of building Leninist vanguard parties linked internationally in a determined struggle to end all ethnic and national conflict.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.globalresearch.ca/coronavirus-epidemic-who-declares-a-global-public-health-crisis-can-we-trust-the-who/5702360 (17-12-2020)

[2] Benny Wenda: Provisional Government of West Papua won’t bow down to Jakarta – United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) (19-12-2020)

[3] Press Release: Benny Wenda ready for talks; British Ambassador summoned in Jakarta; Indonesian police and military threaten action against President Wenda – Office of Benny Wenda (19-12-2020)

[4] Free Papua Movement’s military and urban civil factions reject Benny Wenda’s government-in-exile – National – The Jakarta Post (19-12-2020)

[5] Indonesia – Declaration of new Papuan government in exile will have limited impact – Falanx Assynt (19-12-2020)

[6] Young Papuans killed in attacks in Puncak Jaya | RNZ News (19-12-2020)

[7] Victor Yeimo Minta Kapolda Paulus Waterpauw Hentikan Kejahatan Kemanusiaan – Jurnal Patroli News (19-12-2020)

[8] Update: Riot in Wamena – Chronology of events and consequences of the riot (humanrightspapua.org) (20-12-2020)

[9] Hope On the Horizon For A West Papua Free Of Indonesian Abuses – New Matilda (20-12-2020)

[10] More than 16,000 flee unrest in Indonesia’s Papua region | Indonesia News | Al Jazeera (20-12-2020)

[11] Kapolri Sebut Benny Wenda Dalang Penyerbuan Polsek di Papua (cnnindonesia.com) (20-12-2020)

[12] Chat With Jennifer Robinson & Benny Wenda – TEDxSydney (20-12-2020)

[13] Urgent UN Appeal Filed after serious escalation in threats by Indonesian government against the West Papua movement | Doughty Street Chambers (20-12-2020)

[14] West Papuan provisional government-in-exile formed | Green Left (21-12-2020)

[15] Indonesia escalates repression in West Papua | Red Flag (21-12-2020)

[16] West Papua rises up against Indonesian occupation – Solidarity Online (21-12-2020)

[17] CPA – The Guardian – #1898 (21-12-2020)

[18] Financial Sustainability of Indonesia’s Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional: Performance, Prospects, and Policy Options (healthpolicyplus.com) (21-12-2020)

[19] Education in Indonesia (wes.org) (21-12-2020)

[20] Hundreds of Villages in West Papua Now Have Access to Electricity (westpapuaupdate.com) (21-12-2020)

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)

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

Map showing the location of the Nduga Regency in Papua.

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

26-04-2019 – When a political movement distributes distorted facts and false claims, its legitimacy is necessarily brought into question. In the case of the independence movement in West Papua, this is a shame, for there may be a genuine case for the achievement of independence, which could potentially resolve historic injustices. Yet today, the current leadership of the West Papuan independence movement appears to have few qualms in using unverified reports, false claims and the backing of compromised allies to push their cause.

“Front Line Defenders”: the Empire’s press agents

The “Front Line Defenders” are a classic example of a corporate funded NGO, with practices not at all in consonance with their claimed raison d’etre. It is claimed that a team from Front Line Defenders visited West Papua, which went on to claim that around 32 000 people have been displaced by Indonesian military operations in the Nduga area.[1] The Free West Papua web site also claimed that bombs had been dropped and hospitals had been torched. However, the Front Line Defenders website does not mention West Papua, and details are hard to come by elsewhere.

What can be garnered from the Front Line Defenders website is that its board of directors are replete with CEOs and wealthy stock market brokers.[2] Quite obviously not short of a quid, one wonders what they might have in common with impoverished West Papuans. Moreover, their campaigns are transparently part of the imperialist human rights racket – where “human rights” are only a concern in countries which are targeted by the US Empire for regime change, or at the very least, politico-military-diplomatic intrigue with the aim of destablisation. Hence, Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran and even Indonesia are subjected to the corporate backed Front Line Defenders’ hackneyed claims of “human rights abuse”. Needless to say, the US Empire is never accosted for the same treatment.

For its part, the Indonesian military rubbishes the claims of 32 000 people being displaced in the Nduga region. Colonel Mohammed Aidi stated that there is no population data available for Nduga, implying that the numbers of claimed displaced people are impossible to verify.[3] The armed West Papuan groups claimed that the Indonesian military had damaged 34 schools, which the military denies. Colonel Aidi did state that six soldiers had perished in gun battles which were instigated by the armed Papuans. Further, the armed Papuan groups claim that bombs had been dropped from helicopters.

Who can be believed in this situation of claim and counter-claim? Going by previous history, it is more likely that the Indonesian military version is closer to the truth. This does not imply the slightest political support. Yet if recent events are anything to go by, it is likely that the claims by the armed Papuan groups are falsifications. In December last year, armed Papuan fighters slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers who were constructing the Trans-Papua highway. Understandably, there was a military response to this. But then the armed Papuan groups enlisted corporate journalists to make the completely unfounded claim that the Indonesian military had used white phosphorus munitions against them.[4] Given that at least one of the journalists assisted the US Empire in its war for regime change against Syria, and where there are credible reports of the US military itself using white phosphorus against civilians in Syria[5], it is reasonable to assume that, once again, the armed Papuan groups and their supporters are making fabricated claims.

Some left parties fall over themselves to endorse the West Papuan independence movement, without pausing for a moment to check on its bona fides. The Socialist Alliance is just one of them, and they repeated the unverifiable claims of the “Front Line Defenders” in its newspaper Green Left Weekly.[6] They reprinted the claims direct from the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), who likewise reprinted the allegations which were seemingly made verbally by the “Front Line Defenders”.[7]  The point needs to be made, though, that an independence movement which relies on “NGOs” which overtly or covertly work in the interests of imperialism, especially its mendacious “human rights” arm, is one which is on shaky political ground.

Benny Wenda: fighter or fugitive?

The chairperson of the ULMWP, and de facto leader of the West Papuan independence movement, is Benny Wenda. Mr Wenda no longer lives in West Papua – he lives in Oxford in the United Kingdom (UK), where he has been made a citizen. Supporters retail stories that Mr Wenda is living in a forced exile for his peaceful political activities, and cannot return to his homeland. The truth is somewhat at variance with this classical tale of an exiled activist. On December 7 in 2000, Benny Wenda apparently incited a group of around 50 people to attack a police station at Abepura, alongside two shops, which were torched. In the attack, a police officer was killed, and a security guard from the adjoining shopping complex was found dead.[8] While on trial for this, Mr Wenda escaped across the border to Papua New Guinea, and then fled to the UK.

The Indonesian government, somewhat understandably chasing someone wanted for the slaying of a police officer and potentially another person, attempted to have an INTERPOL red notice applied to Benny Wenda. INTERPOL red notices are usually applied by the 200 odd member countries, who agree to extradite the wanted person. Within 12 months, however, the INTERPOL red notice against Mr Wenda was lifted.[9] In short, it is not that Benny Wenda cannot return to the West Papuan provinces of Indonesia, out of fear that the Indonesian authorities will not allow him political liberties.  It is more that he is a fugitive, who has fled the country in order to avoid standing trial for murder. This fact is unknown to many West Papuan independence supporters, or swept under the carpet by those supporters who are aware.

While in the UK, Mr Wenda has used its protection to garner international support for the cause of West Papuan independence. Nothing wrong with this, one might object. Except, Mr Wenda is enlisting the highest political offices of capital to do so. He founded the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which was initiated in the Houses of the British Parliament, and was also set up in the European Parliament in Brussels.[10] That is, the leader of the West Papuan independence movement is already subordinating the politics of the movement he leads to the class interests of British and European imperialism. Again, without endorsing Indonesian administration of the West Papuan provinces, if independence was achieved with the European ruling classes as sponsors, it may end up being worse than Indonesian rule. For whatever its faults, the Republic of Indonesia is not imperialist.

Genocide in West Papua ?

Genocide is one of the most emotive laden terms in the English language. By its nature the elimination of a people or nation, in whole or in part, invokes virtually universal condemnation. Estimates of the number of Papuans who have needlessly lost their lives at the hands of Indonesian armed forces vary widely, from an alleged 100 000 to possibly 500 000 since the 1950s. Again, these numbers are difficult to verify. However, West Papuan independence supporters today often claim that Papuans are suffering an ongoing genocide, which continues to this day. This implies that the Indonesian military is systematically mowing Papuans down with sub-machine guns, or engaging in regular massacres of Papuans going about their daily lives. In this sense, this is patently untrue, and this is not the situation in West Papua today.

What Papuans are referring to as “genocide” has much more to do with the significant transmigration of Indonesians into West Papua from Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Madura and other highly populated islands. With Indonesia’s population topping 200 million, one could say there is significant overpopulation on the main islands, and thus some form of transmigration program was necessary. One could argue that the transmigration program has become too extensive. In 1971, the non-Papuan population of West Papua stood at only 4%, but had reached 50% by 2004. Now, it is reported to be 51% non-Papuan and 49% Papuan.[11] Some Papuans fear they will thus be displaced over time, becoming a small minority in their own land.

Some West Papuans thus interpret their situation much more as a cultural “genocide”, as opposed to one which involves unchecked military force. To some extent, West Papuans can claim that a certain marginalisation of them is occurring, at their expense, and to the benefit of the Indonesian transmigrants. For example, employment for Papuans is reportedly difficult to come by, especially if they have been dislocated from their traditional means of living, sometimes as subsistence farmers.[12] However, there are many reasons for this, and this may not be intentional on the part of the Indonesian government. Much of the urban and city commercial activity has been run by Indonesians who have settled there. They have higher education and business experience, whereas the indigenous Papuans, who inhabit mostly the highland areas of Papua, generally have not had contact with this type of work. Perhaps understandably as a result, Indonesian run business and government sectors prefer those who are already trained for this type of activity. However, conscious exclusion of Papuans from employment is difficult to prove.

What is more, the development which the Indonesian government is constructing in West Papua does benefit Papuans along with the Indonesian transmigrants. Some Papuans view this development as benefitting ONLY Indonesian transmigrants. Yet it would be difficult to deny, for example, that the Trans-Papua highway will not assist the economic development of West Papua. In addition, while the delivery of education to all areas of Papua remains a challenge, especially in the remote highlands, primary, secondary and tertiary education is provided at little cost to students.[13] Further, Indonesia has recently rolled out a system of health insurance which reportedly “dwarfs Obamacare”.[14] While complete funding for this healthcare system remains patchy, it is also in place in West Papua.

“Leninist” Self-Determination

The most articulate, yet still mistaken, “Marxist” case for the independence of West Papua is put forward by the Spartacist League (SL). The SL call for the independence of West Papua while giving no political support to bourgeois nationalist forces – but then proceed to do precisely that.[15] SL is apparently unaware of the fugitive status of Benny Wenda, referring to him as an “exiled independence leader”, as do all bourgeois – and petty bourgeois – nationalists. In addition, they state that “West Papua is a cause celebre for bourgeois liberals, including the capitalist Greens in this country.”[16]  But isn’t there something strange about “Leninists” saluting the flag alongside bourgeois liberals?

In reality, Lenin and the Bolsheviks in their time did not automatically politically advocate every single movement for self-determination or for independence generally. They analysed the concrete circumstances of each situation, and then ONLY backed self-determination if it advanced the struggle of the working class for socialism in that nation and internationally. Lenin and the Bolsheviks would have scoffed at very suggestion of backing a petty-bourgeois or bourgeois nationalist struggle which had no connection – and even worked against – the achievement of socialism.

Like it or not, the character of the political leadership of the West Papuan independence movement today is light years away from socialism. Not only does the leadership put forward factual distortions and falsifications, the armed wing provokes the Indonesian authorities by slaughtering their personnel. When the Indonesian armed forces naturally respond to such an attack, they cry out and run to the Western corporate press. They enjoy the benefits of economic development (roads, education, healthcare) which Indonesia brings, and which is available for all Papuans, and then claim discrimination.

It would be a different matter if the West Papuan independence leadership proclaimed: we fight for West Papuan independence as part of our struggle for socialism and greater equality throughout Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific, and we are willing to stand with working people in our country and internationally against the perils of capitalism across the globe. Even something leaning in a left-wing direction could be the basis for a reassessment. Until and unless such a moment arrives, workers should leave the advocacy of West Papuan independence to the drawing room conversations of the chattering classes.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

http://www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.freewestpapua.org/2019/04/01/human-rights-investigators-bombs-dropped-hospitals-torched-and-thousands-displaced-in-nduga/ (22-04-2019)

[2] https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/board-directors (22-04-2019)

[3] https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/386236/32-000-people-flee-violence-in-papua-rights-group (23-04-2019)

[4] https://redfireonline.com/2018/12/30/west-papua-corporate-media-enlisted-to-spread-false-claims-fake-news/ (23-04-2019)

[5] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-using-banned-white-phosphorous-syria-says-moscow (23-04-2019)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-destruction-and-displacement-nduga (23-04-2019)

[7] https://www.ulmwp.org/human-rights-investigation-ndgua (23-04-2019)

[8] https://web.archive.org/web/20141215023432/http:/www.thejakartapost.com/news/2002/10/31/papuan-separatist-leader-breaks-out-jail.html (23-04-2019)

[9] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/9458223/Benny-Wenda-removed-from-Interpol-wanted-list.html (23-04-2019)

[10] https://www.ipwp.org/background/ (23-04-2019)

[11] http://www.7dayadventurer.com/2016/02/25/transmigration-to-irian-jayapapua-melanesian-marginalisation/ (25-04-2019)

[12] https://awasmifee.potager.org/?page_id=71 (25-04-2019)

[13] https://freewestpapua-indonesia.com/Freewestpapua/free-west-papua-afirmasi-pendidikan-tinggi-bagi-putra-putri-asli-papua?lang=gb (25-04-2019)

[14] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2142640/indonesias-health-scheme-dwarfs-obamacare-there-problem (25-04-2019)

[15] https://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/236/papua.html (26-04-2019)

[16] Ibid, 15.

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

Map highlighting West Papua. Image from RNZ

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

30-12-18 – As far as false flags go, this one was a whopper. In an “exclusive” posted in The Saturday Paper on December 22, John Martinkus and Mark Davis make the outlandish claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against West Papuan villagers in the region of Nduga.[1] White phosphorus is an internationally banned chemical weapon, due to the immense damage it causes to humans in a battlefield. It ignites spontaneously in contact with oxygen, and burns human flesh incessantly, causing unbearable pain and often death. The very mention of white phosphorus condemns those who use it against supposed adversaries. However, in this case, the mention of white phosphorus is calculated to cause maximum outrage, up to and including demands for Western intervention – as if that would do anything but make things worse.

Embedded regime change media

Given the recent background of John Martinkus and Mark Davis, and The Saturday Paper, and SBS, in stridently backing the US led war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic, it’s not difficult to see how they have transferred their skills in fake news. And the deadly irony is that the side they were paid propagandists for – US imperialism and its ISIS and Al-Qaeda death squad proxies – repeatedly used white phosphorus against Syrian civilians and anyone suspected of defending their government and armed forces against arguably the dirtiest war in history. A little over a month ago, it was reported that the US military used banned white phosphorus bombs in the Deir Ez-Zor province of Syria for the fourth time in two months.[2] It is not as if the US denies using banned white phosphorus munitions – a crime of colossal proportion. In 2017, the US military claimed that white phosphorus rounds were used for “screening” in a way that “considers civilians”.[3] Needless to say, the US military would probably also claim that its entire war for the overthrow of the Syrian state was because it was concerned for civilians!

Unfortunately the US was actively assisted in this atrocious war by other imperialist powers such as the United Kingdom (UK), France, Canada and Australia. And the region of Deir Ez-Zor is very close to home for the Australian ruling class. In 2016, the Australian military admitted that its warplanes had been involved in bombing in Deir Ez-Zor which not only slaughtered up to 82 Syrian soldiers,[4] but actively assisted ISIS alongside the US military. This was during a period where the US was back-pedalling due to the military success of Russia’s air strikes against ISIS, which were requested by the Syrian government.

2016 was the year in which John Martinkus openly propagandised for US imperialism, again ironically in the same The Saturday Paper. At that time there was a slew of Western corporate media slanders against the actions of the Russian military in Syria, with fabricated claims that Russia was bombing civilians instead of bombing ISIS, especially in and around the ancient city of Aleppo. John Martinkus’ article at that time was a part of this unprincipled barrage, and even claimed that the Syrian government also took part in supposedly raining death upon Syrian civilians.[5] For his part, Mark Davis also joined in as a mercenary journalist for hire, posting a video about the mythical “Syrian uprising”.[6]

If these reporters were consistent, or were even half remorseful about their role in working for imperialist interests against Syria, and in practice for the terrorist death squads armed by the West, they might have written a story about how the US used white phosphorus during its war on Syria, and still does. But no – now they have turned their hand to put together fabricated claims that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus against West Papuan separatists. In Syria, the aim was to call for further Western intervention to accelerate the destruction of the entire Syrian nation, potentially triggering a global nuclear war. Now, the aim appears to be a call for Western intervention into West Papua, on the basis of unproven and fake claims against the Indonesian armed forces. It seems the material benefits of fanning the flames of the nefarious ends of imperialism are too much to resist.

What did happen in Nduga?

In amongst the blanket of lies about white phosphorus, even compromised guns for hire feel compelled to report some of what actually occurred. The firing of some kind of gas projectiles into the Nduga region by the Indonesian military was in response to the slaughter of at least 31 workers who were constructing the Trans West Papua highway. The Saturday Paper’s “exclusive” admits that these killings were murders. These murders were apparently carried out after requests for the road workers to destroy a video of a flag raising ceremony in the region on December 1 – the day that West Papuans mark as their declaration of independence from Dutch colonialism in 1963. The armed Papuans apparently chased the workers back to their accommodation, and murdered 24 of them. 8 escaped to the home of a nearby politician, the armed Papuans again chased them to that place, and murdered 7 more.[7]

The Indonesian military (TNI) expressly denied using white phosphorus, and credibly pointed out that such munitions cannot be fired from a helicopter, but would be have to be fired from a jet fighter or a bomber, from a distances of tens or hundreds of kilometres away. A statement provided to the ABC by the Papua Military Command went on to say that the TNI does not operate jet fighters, let alone bombers.[8] On the other hand, the West Papuan armed groups make the likely claim that the road workers are in fact Indonesian military, and not civilians. Moreover, they claim that the Trans Papua Highway will be used for military purposes, and will not benefit civilians.[9] The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) has claimed responsibility for the attack which took 31 lives.[10] Needless to say, once a dispute reaches the point of armed conflict, a political resolution becomes more and more difficult to attain.

Independence for West Papua?

There appears to be a divide between some of the armed separatist West Papuan groups and a political wing. Benny Wenda, the exiled chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), stated in response to the incidents in Nduga that his organisation does not want bloodshed, but does want Indonesia to come to the international table so there can be an agreement about a referendum.[11] At the same time, Victor Yiemo, international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), stated that the TPN-PB is “our military and are fighting for our freedom and we support them”.[12]

What stance should working people take on the issue of independence for West Papua? Many on the left misinterpret the leader of the Russian Revolution, V.I. Lenin, on the issue of national liberation. While it is the case that Lenin and the Bolshevik party often advocated for the right of nations to self-determination, up to and including the right to separate – this was not always automatic. And more to the point, it was only advocated by the Bolsheviks in order to strengthen the struggle for socialism against capitalist imperialism. In the case of the nations within the Tsarist “prison-house of nations”, it was specifically put forward in order to gain working class support for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a multi-national workers’ state. This later became a reality with the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. However, this was only possible after the working-class seizure of state power which was the spectacular success of the October Revolution of 1917.

In acknowledging the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow that Marxists will therefore automatically advocate the exercise of such a right. In addition, while Marxists do not of course insist that a national liberation movement must necessarily have international socialist politics driving it before offering support, the politics of the leadership of such a movement must be analysed and assessed. It therefore becomes not so much a case of whether or not to demand, and fight for, independence. It is much more a case of independence with which politics?

More to the point, what is the political character of the leadership of the various groups pushing for independence for West Papua?  There is no doubt a historic injustice has been perpetrated against the people of West Papua, and thus a strong case could be put forward for independence. Yet if the current political leadership of such a movement is prepared to allow blatant false flags (such as the claim of being bombed with white phosphorus) in cahoots with Australian journalists with a track record of working directly for imperialism in perhaps the dirtiest war in history, such a leadership must at the very least be questioned. Imperialism itself repeatedly used blatant false flags – claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians, without a shred of evidence, to prosecute a war which slaughtered at least 500 000 innocent people. Is the political leadership of the West Papuan independence movement at all concerned that its movement could be associated with such forces?

United Nations – a double edged sword

Taking the cause of West Papuan independence to the United Nations (UN), or appealing to it to intervene on behalf of West Papua, has some advantages, but many disadvantages. On the one hand, it may be possible to score moral victories, in terms of votes in the General Assembly in favour. For example, the UN General Assembly has voted for many years for the lifting of the economic blockade on Cuba. Repeatedly, the only countries to vote against usually include the US and Israel. These indicative votes in favour of a basic issue of justice of course cannot be enforced, but help to establish a certain political justification. On the other hand, the UN is a body which is controlled by the various imperialist powers, and led by the largest imperialist of all – the US. Therefore, appeals to the United Nations (UN) recognises the existing power structure and builds illusions in the very system which holds the world in its death grip. It doesn’t point a way forward to liberation from this system – in West Papua or elsewhere.

The ULMWP is apparently campaigning throughout 2019 for a UN vote on West Papua, and are asking Australian to lobby the federal government to support it.[13] This is the same UN which oversaw the discredited “Act of Free Choice” decades ago, and rubber stamped the Indonesian take-over of West Papua soon after.  Some also lobby to expand the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), which includes current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[14] Ironically, closer to home, Jeremy Corbyn is on record as opposing independence for Scotland. But the supreme danger in terms of working people swinging behind such moves is that it reinforces the central myth of corporate class rule – that, despite everything, bodies such as the UN, the Australian and UK Parliaments are “our” politicians and “our” leaders. Little could be further from the truth. These bodies are marionettes whose strings are pulled by the real rulers of the world – the holders of finance and industrial capital, accumulated daily by the endless toil of working people throughout the globe.

Neither can working people make apologetics for the Indonesian government or its military (TNI) with its role in West Papua. The only way to combat this politically though, is to reach out to Indonesian workers in West Papua and throughout Indonesia, in a struggle against capitalist rule in South West and South East Asia, and indeed throughout Australasia and the Pacific. This would impair the unhealthy dynamic of “Indonesia versus West Papua”, and also the even more unhealthy “Muslim versus Christian” by-product. Under this political context, the demand for West Papuan independence could be backed by working people in the region, and could spur on the much needed socialist revolutions in the imperialist centres. Key to this drive will be the formation of workers’ vanguard parties in West Papua, Indonesia, Australia and the Pacific. West Papua can only be liberated by the actions of workers united across Australasia.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326 (27-12-18)

[2] https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-uses-banned-white-phosphorus-bombs-in-syrian-city-for-the-fourth-time-in-two-months/251537/ (27-12-18)

[3] https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201706091054502594-us-coalition-white-phosphorus-raqqa/ (27-12-18)

[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-18/australian-jets-involved-in-botched-air-strike-on-syrian-army/7855610 (27-12-18)

[5] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2016/10/01/syrian-city-aleppo-under-siege/14752440003804 (27-12-18)

[6] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/syrias-uprising  (27-12-18)

 

[7] Ibid, 1.

[8] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-23/indonesia-military-denies-using-chemical-weapons-in-west-papua/10664402 (27-12-18)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/west-papua-fears-of-spiralling-violence-after-attack-leaves-up-to-31-dead (27-12-18)

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s2h8nHc1KA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0mv9fNQ1anWtMi1Xco-mos6f_ZcJujcJVmeQdjC6vhvkobrwj3CKJ1mPM (27-12-18)

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/06/west-papua-independence-leader-urges-calm-after-killings (27-12-18)

[12] Ibid, 11.

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-liberation-movement-calls-un-support-independence-referendum-2019 (28-12-18)

[14] https://www.ipwp.org/ipwp-news/historic-meeting-with-leader-of-the-opposition-rt-jeremy-corbyn-london/ (28-12-18)