The National – Friday, December 24, 2010
THE United States has accused the Indonesian military of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets along the border with Papua New Guinea.
It also blamed Jakarta for the continuing unrest in the troubled Indonesian province of Papua which shared a land border with PNG.
In secret US cables released by WikiLeaks, US diplomats had expressed fears that the Indonesian government’s neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses were stoking unrest in the province.
A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta said “the region is politically marginalised and many Papuans harbour separatist aspirations”.
In a 2007 cable, that WikiLeaks made available to the Age newspaper, an Indoneisan foreign affairs official said the Indonesian military had far more troops in Papua than it was willing to admit.
Cables sent throughout last year blamed Jakarta for the instability and chronic underdevelopment of Papua, and accused military commanders of drug smuggling and illegal logging along the PNG border.
A 2006 cable detailed a briefing from a PNG government official, who said the armed forces were “involved in both illegal logging and drug smuggling in PNG”.
In another cable from 2006, the US embassy recorded 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 said.
“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 throughout last year blamed 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 said.
The US cables also recorded allegations of corruption involving local officials.
After NGO Human Rights Watch released a report last year, alleging that military officers had abused Papuans in the town of Merauke, the US embassy in Jakarta wrote that the incident was isolated and might have involved soldiers following orders from local official Johanes Gluba Gebze.
“An ethnic Papuan, Gebze, presides over a regional government where allegations of corruption and brutality are rife,” the 2009 cable said, adding advisers to Papua governor Barnabas Suebu as saying Gebze was “out of control” and had made numerous illegal forestry deals with Chinese and Korean companies.