4 Oct 2016

Indonesia dismisses Pacific 'insult' concerns

11:15 am on 4 October 2016

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry has brushed off concerns the country insulted Pacific Island heads of state, during its response to allegations of human rights violations at the recent UN General Assembly.

The representative of the Republic of Indonesia, Nara Masista Rakhmatia, exercises her country’s right of reply during the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session.

The representative of the Republic of Indonesia, Nara Masista Rakhmatia, exercises her country’s right of reply during the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

Nara Masista Rakhmatia, the second secretary at Indonesia's permanent mission to the UN, responded to speeches from the heads of state of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga.

Among other things, the Indonesian diplomat said criticism against Indonesia over human rights abuses in Papua and West Papua amounted to "interference" and encouraged separatism.

According to the Jakarta Post the Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Ms Rakhmatia was speaking using Indonesia's right of reply.

Some questioned why the ministry had assigned a lower-ranking diplomat to respond to the heads of state, which could be interpreted as a deliberate insult.

Evi Fitriani from the University of Indonesia said Indonesia had not violated any convention, "but diplomatically there was a rule of reciprocity, that if a head of state says something, the response shall come from another head of state" or high-ranking official.

Mr Nasir said Ms Rakhmatia's response was "Indonesia's position, which has been discussed thoroughly".