The Indonesian government has recently got all upset over John Howard expressing "concern and distress" over Abu Bakir Bashir's release. They say it's an "internal matter" when someone who promoted the murder of Australians is released after only two years. Where was all this concern over internal matters when they protested about the 42 Papuans being granted asylum? The decision to grant asylum is a finding of fact by Australian government officials and is not and cannot legally be subject to Australia's foreign policy. Constitutionally under the doctrine of "Seperation of Powers" John Howard had no more right to change the determination of the proper tribunerals and courts than he has to have the courts find someone guilty they acquited. The response to Indonesia's arrogant and insulting actions was to kowtow and change policy to make asylum seekers, both legitimate and not, more miserable for longer at a cost of millions to the Australian taxpayer. Needless to say the Indonesians were not so accommodating when our government commented on their system.
In a facile and stupid article in the SMH Gerald Henderson took aim at those that support West Papuan independence. Yes, Gerald it is racist to oppose the breakup of the Indonesian state, considering how much people supported the breakup of the Yugoslavian state for far less oppressive actions. If the West Papuans were white you would have no problem with their independence. Mr. Henderson claims that the asylum seekers "engaging in public debate" is counterproductive? Why? Because "to imply that this policy [of the ALP and the coalition not supporting independence] will change is misleading]. The problem is that nobody implied that. The Papuans simply talked about the bad things the Indonesian government is doing and why independence is a good thing, not surprising behaviour from seccessionists. It got him talking about Papua and civil rights violations there, so at least it's raising awareness.
On the subject of rights violations Mr. Henderson was disingenous saying "The extent of human rights violations in Papua is a matter of contention.". No doubt it is, but then so is whether the holocaust happened*. The only evidence he presents is a statement by someone on Lateline that there is no contemporary evidence [note, contemporary, so presumably there is historical evidence for this] that Indonesian special forces or inteliigence are systemactically going after Papuan independence activists for assasination. This is pretty weak tea. All it says is that a particular type of abuse isn't happening right now to a particular type of people in a particular way (systematically) by two particular groups. The actions of Indonesian backed militias are removed from the equation as are non-"systematic" murders or murders of non-activists. Nobody would write this unless they had nothing better to write in defence of the indefensible. It was perhaps the most hypocritical thing I've read in the Herald. To describe the proposed changes in asylum seeker policy as "reform" is the final insulting icing on a putrid cake.
* It did.