Sludge Report #170 – Don't Mention The War
36th South Pacific Forum Special Edition
By C.D. Sludge
NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - http://www.scoop.co.nz/myscoop/ to subscribe...
Video Clip: Helen Clark & The Pikanini
Not scared of talking about the war, NZ PM Helen Clark is feted by the children of West Papua during a visit to closing celebrations of the meeting of civil society which preceded the Pacific Island Forum.
Don't Mention The War
Australian Prime Minister John Howard seems to take some considerable pride in the fact that he is not talking about West Papua, to anyone.
Talking to media yesterday Mr Howard said he did not talk about West Papua to NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, nor to Papua New Guinea's PM, the Right Hon. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, in his bilateral meetings with them.
Mr Howard was so pleased that he did not talk about West Papua to Sir Michael yesterday that he enthusiastically volunteered the information in a press conference with NZ and Australian media, twice:
"… well he [Sir Michael] certainly didn't raise the issue of West Papua…"
"…I can tell you, it may disappoint you, but West Papua was not raised by the PNG Prime Minister. Thankyou. "
So Who Cares If The War Isn't Mentioned?
For starters there are the millions of native Melanesian people of West Papua who are definitely a tad miffed that Mr Howard isn't talking about their struggle for independence.
Two West Papuans told Scoop earlier this week they were disappointed that Mr Howard seemingly doesn't care that a person convicted in Indonesia of being involved in the fatal bombing against the Australian Embassy gets six years jail, while a West Papuan who dares to raise the Morning Star flag in an act of civil disobedience can get 15 years jail, or in some cases, beaten to death.
Then there are the people of Papua New Guinea.
Many Papua New Guineans may be a little disappointed that Mr Howard is encouraging their own Prime Minister, Mr Somare, to concern himself as little as possible with the severe hardship of several million of their Wantoks (kinsfolk).
As it happens several thousand of these disappointed Papua New Guineans are expected to come out on the streets of Port Moresby later today in an effort to get Mr Howard and Mr Somare to talk about their war just a little bit more.
Then there is the good people of the wider Pacific, whose leaders are gathered in Port Moresby (with John Howard) to discuss a Pacific Plan which includes among other things "peace and security" as a key component.
Earlier this week New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark clearly pointed out that New Zealand, and Australia, do not want the Pacific to become a weak link in the war against terror.
For her part Helen Clark, talking earlier yesterday with Pacific Forum Secretary General Greg Urwin, said that she indeed does want to talk about West Papua.
Which brings Sludge to another group who most probably ought to be a little disappointed about the see/hear/speak-no-evil approach being taken by their Prime Minister – but are probably too polite to say so – namely Australia's security services.
Just like in East Timor the independence movement in West Papua has an armed wing.
And in the case of the West Papuan armed wing, the OPM, the security implications for Australia are arguably significantly more important than they were with East Timor's Fretilin. The OPM claim they are being fairly regularly engaged with by Australian mercenaries working for Australian, American and other corporates with large projects in West Papua.
If this is not a security issue for the Pacific then clearly John Howard believes that the Pacific ends at the West Papuan border, which in turn is a little odd given that East Timor has been accepted for observer status at the Pacific Forum this year and it is several thousand kilometers further West.
In addition, stories about Al Qaeda associated groups being active in PNG have been circulating for months. If these reports are true - and the West Papuan armed wing says they are - then the likely target of any activity will be Australian interests in West Papua or Papua New Guinea.
And so it seems that not only is Mr Howard willfully neglecting several million neighbours of Australia who are being sorely oppressed for the sake of international political convenience and corporate greed, but he may also be doing so at the expense of Australia's own security interests.
Images: Sour Howard
not talking about the war during the day, Mr Howard seemed
to be in a somewhat sour mood during the Pacific Island
Forum opening ceremony yesterday evening. For an impression
of what he was feeling sour about see.. Photo Essay: At The Opening Of The Pacific
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0510/S00292.htm. 10 Possible Reasons
John Howard Doesn't Want To Talk About West
Papua 1. He doesn't know where it is
2. Indonesia is big
3. He doesn't like Melanesian food
4. Freeport (The world's biggest Goldmine) has given his wife a nice bangle
5. He had such a blast in Bali
6. He hates the Morning Star flag too
7. Schappelleeele Corby is innocent!
8. He recently purchased a hardwood BBQ dining suite
9. If Indonesia gives up Papua, where will the TNI hang out?
10. "I am not here to have you jerk off to try and show me what you don't know about the world."
10 Possible Reasons John Howard Doesn't Want To Talk About West Papua
1. He doesn't know where it is