10 Oct 2006

Australian think tank criticises support by Australian groups for West Papuan self determination

12:29 pm on 10 October 2006

An Australian think tank has criticised support by Australian groups for the West Papuan self determination movement as misguided saying it adds to the pressures in the Indonesian province.

The Lowy Institute, in a report called the Pitfalls of Papua, says this support generates unrealistic expectations among Papuans.

Don Wiseman reports

"Author Dr Rodd McGibbon, who has recently spent six years in Jakarta working with the United Nations, and is now a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, says this backing makes three basic errors. That is: Giving an exaggerated sense of Australia's foreign policy influence; the lack of a serious appreciation of the forces driving contemporary Indonesian politics and the promotion of a one sided account of the Papuan conflict that takes for granted Papuan ethnic claims. He accepts there are serious deep seated issues that need repairing, such as the resentment of how state policies are applied and human rights abuses, and he sees special autonomy as the framework for tackling these. Dr MacGibbon says Australia has to confront perceptions in Indonesia that it supports Papua separatism. He also says Australia needs to support building democratic institutions because any resolution to the conflict depends on consolidating democratic rule. And Dr MacGibbon says Australia must give more development aid to Papua."