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Cable Reveals US Accuses Jakarta of Failure in Papua

Jakarta accused over Papua

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December 23, 2010

THE United States fears that Indonesian government neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses are stoking unrest in its troubled province of West Papua.

Leaked embassy cables reveal that US diplomats privately blame Jakarta for instability and "chronic underdevelopment" in West Papua, where military commanders have been accused of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets across the border with Papua New Guinea.

A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta says "the region is politically marginalized and many Papuans harbor separatist aspirations". An earlier cable, from October 2007, details claims by an Indonesian foreign affairs official about military influence in West Papua.

"The Indonesian official] claims that the Indonesian Military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate TNI's interests in illegal logging operations," says the cable, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age.

"The governor … had to move cautiously so as not to upset the TNI, which he said operates as a virtually autonomous governmental entity within the province," the cable says.

It notes that because the allegations are coming from an Indonesian official rather than a non-government organisation, they "take on an even more serious cast".

A 2006 cable details a briefing from a Papua New Guinea government official who said that the armed forces were ''involved in both illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG".

In another cable from 2006, the US embassy records the reaction of Indonesian authorities to a riot in West Papua that left four officials dead. "While the gruesome murder of three unarmed policemen and an air force officer at the hands of angry mob is unconscionable, the authorities' handling of the aftermath has merely added a new chapter to the history of miscarriages of justice in Papua," it says.

"It is clear that the police rounded up a miscellany of perceived trouble-makers and random individuals and that the prosecutors and judges then railroaded them in a farcical show trial."

Cables from throughout 2009 blame the Indonesian government's neglect of West Papua - including the failure to ensure revenue generated by mining is distributed fairly - for continuing unrest. "Most money transferred to the province remains unspent although some has gone into ill-conceived projects or disappeared into the pockets of corrupt officials,'' a September 2009 cable says.

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