17 Sep 2023

Jakarta minister seeks extra US$4m for pan-Pacific campaign against Papua 'misinformation'

7:31 am on 17 September 2023
Indonesia's security minister Wiranto

Indonesia's security minister Wiranto Photo: DONAL HUSNI/AFP

By Kristian Erdianto in Jakarta

Indonesia's Security Minister is seeking an extra US4 million for a campaign against what Jakarta calls "Papua misinformation".

Wiranto - a former high-ranking military officer - said that the extra money would be used to pay for diplomatic efforts by the government in the South Pacific.

"We are pursuing intense soft-diplomacy. I'm heading it up myself, going there, coordinating, and talking to them. We're proposing an additional budget of 60 billion rupiah," said Wiranto.

He was speaking during a working meeting with the House of Representatives Budget Committee at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta.

Wiranto explained that just a few years ago as many as seven out of 13 countries in the South Pacific supported West Papuan independence.

All of these countries had voting rights in the United Nations General Assembly, he added.

Jakarta pursuing diplomatic efforts

Wiranto claimed many of the South Pacific countries had been receiving "misinformation" about Indonesia's approach to Papua. One example was a view that the government had neglected development in Papua.

According to the former Indonesian Armed Forces commander, the government was already pursuing diplomatic efforts with the leaders of two countries, Nauru and Vanuatu.

The national leaders had been invited to visit Papua to "see for themselves" the progress in development there.

"We've been forgetting, we've been negligent, that there are many countries which could potentially threaten our domination. Papua is part of our territory and it turns out that this is true," said Wiranto.

The additional budget of 60 billion rupiah proposed by Wiranto would be used for five coordinated activities.

  • 20 billion rupiah to 'improve Papua's international image';
  • 15 billion rupiah to improve Indonesia's cooperation with the South Pacific;
  • 15 billion rupiah to improve cooperation with South Pacific international organisations;
  • 5 billion rupiah for the management of Australian and South Pacific territorial border security; and
  • 5 billion rupiah to improve Australian and South Pacific territorial border security intelligence cooperation.

Last month, the Melanesian Spearhead Group decided not to admit the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) as full members of the MSG.

Kristian Erdianto is a journalist with Kompas.com and the original article was translated into English by James Balowski of IndoLeft News.

This article is republished as part of a community partnership with Asia Pacific Report.

Indonesian parliament

Indonesian parliament Photo: AFP

Raid 'displaces' hundreds of people

Nearly 700 people have been displaced in Papua due to a recent raid and conflict in Yahukimo District according to the Human Rights Monitor.

The Jakarta-based group reports many displaced people have lost their homes and belongings.

Security force members reportedly burned down 12 residential houses and killed livestock.

Solidarity groups have opened a humanitarian post and local government representatives have promised to relocate the people for their safety and well-being.

The rights group reports the raid occurred shortly after an attack against a military post by West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) members.

The shootout resulted in the death of one military member. Reports revealed acts of arbitrary arrests and torture during the raid.