In Indonesia atrocities and gross human rights’ violations did take place in the past. Actually in all parts of the world crimes against humanity occurred. And still occur. Especially in times of (civil) war, chaos and socio-economic instability. And in oppressive, authoritarian dictatorships.
Often those who are responsible are politicians and people in uniform.
Like Aceh West Papua is very far away from the demographic, economic, cultural epicentre of the archipelago. Though it’s in the newspapers every day ( over the last 6 months I counted over 100 articles in JG, JP and Tempo dealing with violent incidents in that province ) apparently the rapidly deteriorating situation in West Papua is not really worrying authorities and officials in charge. And if it does the measures taken are not effective. Papua apparently doesn’t seriously disturb the quiet of political and civil life in Jakarta. Therefore it’s remarkable young Indonesians at the other side of the globe do perceive the looming dangers in the motherland and express their worries.
The Student Association in the Netherlands (PPI Belanda) last week aired it’s concern. This is it’s press release in Bahasa Indonesia.
The Indonesian president likes to show off the country’s good reputation in the world. Indeed he got overwhelming positive international feedback in the course of his administration. I’m sure that also during his imminent visit to Berlin and Budapest, Chancellor Angela Merkel and prime minister Viktor Orban ( who himself by the way is very ill at ease with human rights) will praise Indonesia as the economically flourishing democracy with world’s largest Muslim population.
But perhaps they will do so with notable less conviction and less enthusiasm than on previous occasions. RI’s image has been slightly tarnished lately. It’s human rights record is being frowned upon. Last Friday my own paper, NRC, wrote “Religious violence in Indonesia increases each year“. And -more importantly- Thursday the Huffington Post “World”-section headed :”Indonesia:Religious Minorities Target of Rising Violence“. The report Human Rights Watch published last Wednesday has significant publicity impact apparently.
As a country Indonesia is economically thriving.
And it’s a rule that when you’re winning you’ve got a lot of friends.
There is money to be earned in RI today. Impressing growth rates, rapidly growing middle class and purchasing power, a lot of commodities and potential huge infrastructural projects. So actually an almost endless parade of delegations and representatives of many foreign countries try to worm themselves into Indonesia’s favour. They bring praise and flattery with them. And their own poorly hidden agenda of course.
Last week it was our Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans’ turn.
The EU ambassador in Jakarta wrote a love letter to Indonesia on February the 14th. He apparently went cruising. Or perhaps he’s already courting the Garuda bird. He praises the great Indonesian people, the fascinating Indonesian diversity, the wonderful Indonesian products, the beautiful Indonesian landscapes and the ever improving Indonesian tourist infrastructure, including more and more golf courses. Except for golf courses I actually agree wholeheartedly with him :).
However I think true love shouldn’t be blind. Julian Wilson is a diplomat and as a diplomat he can’t publicly criticise Indonesia’s characteristics, developments or incidents. But I can. So let me add my love and complete his sunny Valentine appraisal with a critical note.