The Jakarta Post
This is a comment to an article titled 'Australia-Indonesia bilateral ties: Challenges ahead', (The Jakarta Post, April 30) by Ratih Hardjono.
I think most Australians are aware of the great progress Indonesia has made toward democracy since the fall of former president Soeharto. However, just by geography alone we are also aware of the human rights situation in Papua.
May Day is celebrated around the world as a day for workers but I wonder how many Indonesians know that in Papuan history, May 1 (in 1963) was the day that the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) transferred the then Dutch colony to Indonesia's administration?
This was a failure by the International community in its responsibility to give the people of Papua a say in their future. A number of civil society organizations in Papua have called for rallies to protest this UNTEA handover but the authorities have banned any commemorations from taking place.
A report just issued by the UK-based NGO, TAPOL, states that there are 40 political prisoners in jails across Papua and West Papua and yet we keep hearing about how Indonesia is now a democracy. What better way for the Indonesian government to prove this than to immediately release all Papuan political prisoners unconditionally as a sign of good faith to the Papuan people.
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