Indonesia’s Claims to Papua

Oct 30th, 2010, in History, Opinion, by

Indonesia’s claim to Papua is self-contradictory. One cannot claim (as Indonesians often claim) that the Dutch presence in Indonesia was illegitimate and that the borders of the Netherlands Indies were mainly fixed by violence (as they were) and appeal to this same presence and these same borders as a basis for a legitimate Indonesian claim. The only open avowal of this inconsistency from an Indonesian that I have come across is the lecture that Dr. George Aditjondro gave some fifteen years ago for the Monash Asia Institute in Melbourne (see http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54b/034.html).

Of course very much the same situation holds for other parts of Indonesia but for many of those one can, more or less convincingly, claim that they were somehow, though often only marginally, involved in the struggle for independence and that the Sukarno-Hatta declaration of the 17th of August 1945 was therefore at least implicitly accepted as being valid in and for these regions as well.

No such claim can be made for Papua. Papuans only knew Indonesians then as the Ambonnese and Keiese who served as teachers or in the lower ranks of the administration. They were by and large not popular. There was already then a definite “anti-Amberi” sentiment. Also, Papua was only partly occupied by the Japanese and these could not promote in the occupied part a nascent nationalist anti-western movement because that simply did not exist (the Koreri movement in the Biak-Numfor area was quite a different kettle of fish). Furthermore, the Americans, with some Dutch involvement, liberated Papua about one year before the Japanese surrendered in Java. Thus the Dutch administration had either been continued throughout the war or been properly restored in other parts well before the Sukarno-Hatta declaration was made.

I quote from the English language summary of the thus far most thorough study of the preliminaries of the so-called “Act of Free Choice”, that which Professor Pieter Drooglever was commissioned to write by the then Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Aartsen (“Een Daad van Vrije Keuze” 2005):

“The development of Indonesian nationalism entirely passed the Papuans by … (also) New Guinea had, in most respects, a different occupation history than the rest of Indonesia. It was only partially occupied. The Dutch influence continued to prevail in the south and in the interior. The occupation was also shorter and the island was liberated by the American army in the middle of 1944 already. The Dutch were also involved in this, and quickly took the administration back into their own hands. As a result, the restoration of power took place well before the independent Indonesian Republic was proclaimed on Java on 17 August 1945.”

I wish to say more about this.

(http://www.safecom.org.au/drooglever.htm)


100 Comments on “Indonesia’s Claims to Papua”

  1. avatar Oigal says:

    Lairedion,

    The rights and wrongs of what happened to the Aborginals or Indians are all to often used as a shield for what is occuring right now in Indonesia. It’s an excuse (and pathetic one) for Indonesia to ignore what Indonesian citizens are doing to their fellow citizens and the justification for that behaviour is “Well those bule did worse to their minorities” ?????

    By all means debate the issue elsewhere or is it your position the behaviour of the government and its minions acceptable and part of the Indonesia of the future.

  2. avatar timdog says:

    I hate the way you can comment on individual replies on this platform; it makes it hard for casual readers to follow a thread satisfactorily….

    I’ve never engaged with Arie Brand on this topic (and may regret doing so), but I have always taken note – and been slightly baffled by – his seemingly rather beligerant line on the Dutch period in Indonesia.
    I’ve mentioned elsewhere the way the “evil Dutch” has become very much a totem, a given, a received fact of the discourse on Indonesia’s past, and how by accepting that crude rationalisation entirely it becomes hard to engage full historical perspective.

    Little points: the idea that the partition of Mataram was a classic, nefarious, deviously plotted case of “divide and rule” by those bad wicked Dutchies is an absolute given in most Indonesians’ understanding of their own history, and in that of many foreigners too. This despite the fact that it’s not true.
    I’ve mentioned before that this line originates with the energetic propaganda efforts of the British in the run-up and during Raffles’ British interregnum (as, I believe, does some of the wider “evil Dutch” discourse).

    HOWEVER, I find it a little hard to understand why someone would adopt, as an apparently ideological position (never, ever a good place from which to approach history, especially if there’s any hint of “nationalism” or worse yet “patriotism” involved in that ideology) the revisionist (or re-revisionist?) idea that “hey, the Dutch weren’t that bad”.
    To then attach this to “and the Indonesians were much worse”, as Arie seems to do, is even more problematic.

    The first position would just about stand (as would “the Indonesians have been bad”). But tag the two together ( +especially+ if you happen to be Ducth yourself), and it will be all too easy for people to dismiss you as a silly old blimp, naively pining for the days when the White Man was willingly labouring under his Burden.
    (And that Arie is clearly nothing close to that in his knowledge, background and expertise makes it particularly weird; it’s not like he’s some nostalgic Britisher with a garbled bit of general knowledge and a couple of Andrew Roberts’ pop-histories who’s decided the British Empire was all bloody lovely)…

    I’m all for revisionism in approaches to history; it’s vital in fact, especially in the narratives of colonialism, post-colonialism and “nationhood”, but like I said, there’s a problem when you cloud that with ideology.

    Rolling on from this, to highlight outrages committed by (ahem 😉 ) “the natives” in the immediate post-colonial period, or during the final stages of colonialism, but then blithely to dismiss the suggestion that the massive trauma of the colonial process might go a very long way towards explaining an economy of violence that might have arisen amongst the local forces during and after the close of colonialism, is totally unreasonable. As is the “get over it, it’s all in the past” line (especially if your stock in trade happens to be “the past”).

    Here’s an example: the mass communal slaughter that accompanied the partition of India was one of the ugliest episodes of a very ugly century. The people who did the slaughtering were all “natives”. But to blame India and Pakistan entirely for what happened, given that India and Pakistan barely existed at the time, would be silly. And to absolve entirely the nation that had allowed the stupid, stupid situation in which Partition even became an option, let alone the only option, on the grounds that they were all nice gentlemen and never hacked to pieces a Punjabi peasant in person, is equally ridiculous.

    And it makes it harder for people to take you seriously.

  3. avatar David says:

    I hate the way you can comment on individual replies on this platform; it makes it hard for casual readers to follow a thread satisfactorily….

    That can be turned on and off with a click; the theme that IM uses is ancient and doesn’t support that functionality; I tried to hack it in once, and succeeded, briefly, and then it stopped working – this is the sort of thing that drives me nuts and I lay awake at night thinking what on earth could have been the issue? The last time something like this happened I was sitting beside a pool in Trawas after just freezing myself stupidly going for a swim when it dawned on my what the problem was; I couldn’t wait to rush back to Sby to get down to work; you better hope I don’t have another poolside epiphany in this case.

  4. avatar Lairedion says:

    Arie,

    You didn’t miss anything. You started this in the SBY Not a Lion thread in yet another attempt to divert the attention away from Rawagede. And why are Indonesian crimes during the independence struggle suddenly relevant and actual? Is Indonesia exempted from your logic of ignoring crimes happened in the past.

    You know what Arie, reading between the lines in your comments you’re showing nothing but contempt and disdain for Indonesia. I don’t necessarily have a problem with such a position but at least be honest about it.

    Oigal,

    I’m more than willing to discuss Indo wrongdoings on their own and I’ve shown that recently in a couple of comments on various threads. I’ve been around here on IM and you know I don’t walk away from criticizing Indonesia. On the contrary, it’s important to address injustice, brutality and violations of human rights in Indonesia and any person is free to do so but if that same person cannot be sincere on wrongdoings of his ancestors and try to tie them with Indonesian crimes then he/she can expect to be confronted with backlashes.

    timdog,

    Exactly the points I’m trying to make, but

    it’s not like he’s some nostalgic Britisher with a garbled bit of general knowledge and a couple of Andrew Roberts’ pop-histories who’s decided the British Empire was all bloody lovely

    I do not question Arie’s knowledge but I do believe he holds romantic views on Dutch colonialism and regrets Papua’s incorporation into Indonesia. Didn’t he say somewhere on IM he served in Papua? He may have witnessed the transition of Papua with his own eyes. Could explain a lot….

  5. avatar Arie Brand says:

    .

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere the way the “evil Dutch” has become very much a totem, a given, a received fact of the discourse on Indonesia’s past, and how by accepting that crude rationalisation entirely it becomes hard to engage full historical perspective.?Little points: the idea that the partition of Mataram was a classic, nefarious, deviously plotted case of “divide and rule” by those bad wicked Dutchies is an absolute given in most Indonesians’ understanding of their own history, and in that of many foreigners too. This despite the fact that it’s not true.?I’ve mentioned before that this line originates with the energetic propaganda efforts of the British in the run-up and during Raffles’ British interregnum (as, I believe, does some of the wider “evil Dutch” discourse).?

    .
    I have no problems with this part of your letter (we discussed this before) but then you go on:

    HOWEVER, I find it a little hard to understand why someone would adopt, as an apparently ideological position (never, ever a good place from which to approach history, especially if there’s any hint of “nationalism” or worse yet “patriotism” involved in that ideology) the revisionist (or re-revisionist?) idea that “hey, the Dutch weren’t that bad”.?To then attach this to “and the Indonesians were much worse”, as Arie seems to do, is even more problematic.

    .
    . Now I find it rather puzzling that the kind of explanation you give for the distortion of history in your earlier paragraph (the “evil Dutch” stereotype) suddenly becomes part of an “ideology” (no less) when it is used to answer the question why much of the popular narrative (among Indonesians as well as the younger generation of Dutchies) is so notably one eyed.
    .
    . I just don’t buy this story that the “derailment of violence” (to use Van Doorn’s term) happened because, yes, what do you want, the evil Dutch were at work. These things happened in a situation that cannot be understood when the events of what the Dutch call the “bersiap” time and the Indonesians “the time of chaos” are left out. But there is on the Indonesian side a notable reluctance to consider them. I wrote mainly in reaction to that.
    .
    As to that Indonesian reluctance to consider them: I think I have got a rather credible witness here. I have put him on the stand before but will now do so again:

    . The Dutch Institute for War Documentation organized in June 2003 an international conference of historians to deal with the “bersiap-period” under the title “Identity and Chaos in Indonesia 1945-1946”. I will translate here a paragraph from a report about it. It deals with some remarks by the Indonesian historian Bambang Purwanto:

    He talked about the resistance he gets in his own country at the slightest attempt to deal somewhat objectively with the history of the Revolution. He had already been reproached for not being a real Indonesian. The name ‘bersiap-time’ is not known in Indonesia. It is called the time of chaos there. Purwanto acknowledged fully that horrible things had happened in this period.

    .
    .

    The first position would just about stand (as would “the Indonesians have been bad”). But tag the two together ( +especially+ if you happen to be Ducth yourself), and it will be all too easy for people to dismiss you as a silly old blimp, naively pining for the days when the White Man was willingly labouring under his Burden.?

    .
    . Well, yes, that is regrettable but that comes with the territory. I will skip the next laudatory bit (my dear fellow “ni cet exces d’honneur ni cette indignite?”)
    .
    .

    I’m all for revisionism in approaches to history; it’s vital in fact, especially in the narratives of colonialism, post-colonialism and “nationhood”, but like I said, there’s a problem when you cloud that with ideology.

    .
    . It is still not clear to me what “ideology” you are referring to. Enlighten me.
    .
    .

    Rolling on from this, to highlight outrages committed by (ahem ) “the natives” in the immediate post-colonial period,

    .
    This is a cheap shot fitting in with the SOB stereotype of course. I never used the word “native” except when I was translating a Dutch text (such as that of Gonggrijp) in which the word “inlander” occurred. I preferred the exactitude of my translation above decreasing the risk to be called a SOB .
    You continued:
    .
    .

    or during the final stages of colonialism, but then blithely to dismiss the suggestion that the massive trauma of the colonial process might go a very long way towards explaining an economy of violence that might have arisen amongst the local forces during and after the close of colonialism, is totally unreasonable.

    .
    . Where, pray, did I dismiss this suggestion? I looked at what happened in the post war period and haven’t even ventured an explanation (or dismissed one) of that “bersiap” violence and the things that followed later, except to suggest that the continuous stream of propaganda from that ‘revolutionary sender’ Pemberontak (I think it was called) with its exhortations to kill the Dutch (civilians mainly at that time) might have had something to do with it. Seems to me a matter of common sense. But I must admit that that type of propaganda also asks for an explanation. Work never stops.
    .
    . I must confess, however, that your terms “massive trauma of the colonial process” and “economy of violence” sound somewhat highfalutin to me. If that is for you the explanation of what happened there then good luck to you. You have made it easy for yourself.
    .

    As is the “get over it, it’s all in the past” line (especially if your stock in trade happens to be “the past”).?

    .
    . You might not have followed this exchange very attentively. This ”it’s all in the past” line was used from my side in reaction to the tedious and predictable Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean etc. referrals to what happened to the aborigines, and the Maoris, and the American Indians, whenever the human rights situation in their country is criticized. Now perhaps you find that they shouldn’t get over what happened in let us say Australia some considerable time ago. If, however, that really is their situation I do pity the poor dears.
    .

    Here’s an example: the mass communal slaughter that accompanied the partition of India was one of the ugliest episodes of a very ugly century. The people who did the slaughtering were all “natives”. But to blame India and Pakistan entirely for what happened, given that India and Pakistan barely existed at the time, would be silly. And to absolve entirely the nation that had allowed the stupid, stupid situation in which Partition even became an option, let alone the only option, on the grounds that they were all nice gentlemen and never hacked to pieces a Punjabi peasant in person, is equally ridiculous.?And it makes it harder for people to take you seriously.

    .
    Interesting example but I don’t quite see what it has to do with me. Incidentally, Andrew Roberts whom you so airily dismissed as a seller of pop history about the Raj (another SOB – I am honored) came, if I remember correctly, with a very similar condemnation of British (or rather Mountbatten’s) policy in the matter. A lucky shot perhaps?

    Finally, you might have been contemplating this diatribe for some time but I am not impressed by your tactical sense in coming now with it. Apparently my SOB-hood seemed to worry you more than the particular bit of Indonesian skulduggery that was under discussion. A matter of “ideology”?
    ?

  6. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Lairedion

    I have mentioned, more than once, that I worked for the Inland Civil Service (B.B.) in Papua during the Dutch period and, subsequently, as a district officer for the UNTEA administration. I have written in various places about that – inter alia about four years ago in a twelve part series on Australian webdiary to which I have given the reference. I do not have the impression that people have actually bothered to read these and will therefore copy and paste my epilogue to that series:

    Papuan Self-determination – Epilogue

    This is the final instalment of Arie Brand’s excellent, often first-hand historical introduction to the West Papuan self-determination movement. A birdie told me that we are going to see this issue repeatedly in the media in the coming years, and this exclusive review of the background will serve Webdiarists well in making sense of new developments as they arise. Here is the complete contents:

    Part I Economically “worthless”?
    Part II Papua as Indo-European ‘homeland’
    Part III Strategic Considerations
    Part IV The Linggajati Agreement
    Part V The Round Table Conference
    Part VI 1950 -The first year test
    Part VII Dutch-Indonesian relations – From bad to worse
    Part VIII Gradual Evolution
    Part IX A poorly briefed US Ambassador
    Part X The ‘Bunker-Agreement’
    Part XI Untea 1
    Part XII Untea 2
    Epilogue – Indonesian myths and the birth of West Papua

    Indonesian myths and the birth of West Papua

    What amazed me most during the UNTEA period was that the Indonesians, after a dozen years of listening to Sukarno’s rhetoric about the burning Indonesian desire to liberate their Papuan brothers from their largely imaginary colonial yoke, seemed on nothing so intent as to subject these brothers to a real one. Instead of treating the people with tolerance and understanding, declarations of loyalty (through manifestoes, processions and flag raisings) were forced out of them through intimidation that was from time tot time reinforced by violence – or, in the case of some key figures, by blandishments such as the red carpet treatment in a free trip to Jakarta.

    I often wondered whom they wished to fool with all of this and why they thought they could do so? Of the foreign observers then present in the region probably nobody was fooled – including the Administrator, Dr.Abdoh, who then however did not state openly not to believe in these charades. He showed himself to be far more sceptical in his correspondence with the UN Undersecretary Narasimhan. Saltford (op.cit.) refers to a report by Abdoh to this UN official, dating from January 1963, in which he stated to believe that Indonesia was intent on crushing all opposition and that it was behind the organised demonstrations and the attacks on anti-Indonesian Papuas. Saltford also refers to a report from approximately the same date by James Plimsoll, then Australia’s Permanent Representative at the UN, on a conversation between the UN Secretary General U Thant, Narasimhan and himself. Narasimhan allegedly said that ‘it was quite clear from the information they had that in West New Guinea the Indonesians could turn demonstrations off and on like a tap.’ The Secretary General was no less sceptical. He said to have ‘no doubt at all that demonstrations or representations by Papuans were Indonesian inspired and were not spontaneous’.

    Though I saw from time to time traces of what seemed to me a somewhat childish belief on the part of Indonesians that no outsider could see through their obvious schemes, in retrospect I have come to the conclusion that the people they wanted to fool most of all were they themselves and their fellow Indonesians. The ‘inspired’ demonstrations, these fictional proofs of loyalty, were part of their fictional claim to West Papua. One fiction had to support the other.

    Another part of these interlocking myths was construed by the Indonesian military that apparently fooled themselves into believing that they had conquered the territory hand in hand with their Papuan brethren. Saltford quotes a report by another Australian official, R.J.Percival, who wrote that he had met Dutch people and Papuans who had had to deal with Indonesian infiltrators in the Sorong area ‘and all expressed incredulity.at the apparent Indonesian belief that the Papuan populace would rise up in revolt against the Dutch once the infiltrators had established a base in New Guinea … The Papuans had regarded the rounding up of the infiltrators as a sort of sport.’

    Benedict Anderson wrote once that the ‘subsequent painful relations between the populations of West New Guinea and the emissaries of the independent Indonesian state can be attributed to the fact that Indonesians more or less sincerely regard these populations as ‘brothers and sisters’ while the populations themselves, for the most part, see things very differently’.

    I believe that this statement can only be accepted if it is heavily qualified. The ‘brothers and sisters’ theme remained alive as long as West Papua was only a fiction in the prolonged ‘revolutionary struggle’ in the Sukarno-era against the Dutch, it was very soon dropped by the Indonesians who actually came to occupy the area and after that it had only a precarious existence in the officially sanctioned myth about the ‘liberation’ of the territory.

    It is possible that the obvious disinclination of many Papuans to see the occupying force of Indonesians as ‘brothers’ that had come to liberate them has ultimately contributed somewhat to a similar lack of brotherly enthusiasm on the side of the Indonesians – though I believe that a sort of provincial cultural arrogance about their assumed superiority above all these ‘naked people’, mixed with the callousness that comes from greed, had far more to do with this.

    Indonesian myths about the territory are endless. There is the idea that the proclamation of independence of 1945 also held for the (uninvolved) Papuans. There is the view that, though it is a patent fact that Papuans had virtually nothing to do with the struggles of 1945 – 49 against the Dutch, the Indonesian ‘freedom fighters’ also fought on their behalf. There is finally the colossal lie that the occupation that has robbed Papuans of their lands, terrorised and enslaved them was an act of ‘pembebasan’, of liberation.

    Indonesians have, however, hold of one indubitable fact – West Papua was once, however marginal, at least administratively part of the Netherlands East Indies. This map based fact now constitutes their strongest claim to the territory – however much they may, in other contexts, object against the violence with which this map was cobbled together in colonial times. Lately we have seen this Indonesian claim dressed up with the Latin formula ‘uti possidetis juris’. This allegedly refers to a principle of international law implying, in this case, that successor states of colonial territories should have the borders of those territories. Well, the principle has often been ignored (to wit the partition of British India and French Indochina) but also, principle for principle, it should yield to the much stronger one of ‘self determination’, a principle enshrined in the very Charter of the United Nations. It is presumably because of this that Constantin Stavropoulos, the UN legal counsel advising Secretary General U Thant, wrote in 1962 that ‘there appears to emerge a strong presumption in favour of self-determination in situations such as that of West New-Guinea on the basis of the wishes of the peoples of the territory concerned, irrespective of the legal stands or interests of other parties to the question.’

    Also, Indonesia seems to have forgotten that it recognised itself the superiority of this principle with the Agreement between it and the Netherlands of 15th August 1962, however opportunistic it might have been in signing this. That the Papuans have since then enjoyed the right of self determination is yet another Indonesian myth that the country finds harder and harder to sell internationally. The recent joint letter by 36 members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus to U.N.Secretary General Kofi Annan, in which these Congressmen joined around 170 other parliamentarians and 80 NGOs from around the world in urging a review of this fraudulent act, forms a case in point.

    The Indonesian ‘imagined nation’, to use Anderson’s term, that stretched from Sabang to Merauke, is unravelling. The years of occupation and the suffering it has caused have seen another nation emerge, this one from Sorong to Merauke, West Papua. Thus far, to be sure, only ‘imagined’ as well but, imagination for imagination, I have an inkling that the historical odds are on the latter one.

  7. avatar Ottis says:

    Bobotoh Keukeuh,

    Contract of Work regarding Freeport in Timika and BP in Bintuni were made by GoI and the Companies but not by the indigenous landowner and the companies. Are the indigenous people’s rights on land genuinely recoqnised by GoI? Another question is whether GoI has ratified UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Suppose you are not the colonizer but an indigenous Papua. What would you feel?

    I am expecting a comment from Arie too.

  8. avatar Jaruj Kazok says:

    You are all wrong in it; Regardless of Sultans claims or not. Who new that there will be once Indonesia, using his claims as precedens to rule over the lands he considers as his own? He perhaps didn’t dream of such entity and name as an Indonesia. This is the most artificially created name; Indian islands! What does Indonesia has in common with India! Ok there is some historical ties- hinduism in Bali, but thats it! More appropriate name perhaps will be Austronezia. But don’t worry about it. Main point here is that the second biggest island on the world is split in the middle one half is an indepedent state of Papua- New Guinea, other is virtually colony of Indonesia West Papua! If any federation should be formed it should be between WestPapuas two provinces and Papua-New Guinea. That will be only clever political resolve from the mess colonialism live this part of the world in! Look Cameroon in Africa, was in colonial period divaded between Britain and France, they didn’t respect colonial or any historical boundaries, but they joined into one state of Cameroon. If they had adopt similiar argument then perhaps British Cameroon will be part of Nigeria which was also British colony and with which has common borders, and French Cameroon will be perhaps part of Chad or Central African Republic or Chad, with which has common borders and common colonial past. But they didn’t care about colonial past and boundaries they were Camerounians so they united in one Cameroon. Why this shouldn be the case with Papuans?

  9. avatar timdog says:

    Well, I said I might regret it…

    Arie, by “ideology” I mean this:

    I have a position, an opinion, in my approach to history. I believe Position A; I am convinced of it. Position A is my ideology. Position A informs and moulds my approaches, interpretations and conclusions. I am very confident of Position A.

    Now, let’s go and have a look at some source material…

    Of course, you will strenuously deny that that applies to you, but from everything you present here it certainly seems like it does.

    Arie has a position – Position A: Dutch Colonialism in Indonesia (and Papua) was nowhere near as bad as people say it was. In fact, it may have been pretty good.
    What’s more, Arie also has a directly connected Position B: the Indonesians are much worse than the Dutch ever were. Arie is very confident of positions A and B; they inform and mould his approaches; they are his ideology.

    Now let’s go and have a look at some source material…

    You will doubtless retort that they are not starting positions; they are conclusions. Many people will be reluctant to give you the benefit of the doubt on this; for me it’s irrelevant. They may have started as conclusions [I beg your pardon Mr timdog???], but the way you fall to them so readily suggests that they are now so entrenched that they are no longer conclusions; they are starting points; they are an ideology. They now inform your approaches to the subject matter before you get anywhere near the actual evidence.

    We are all, of course, informed by lots of little ideologies, no matter how well we try to behave ourselves . Me, for example, when I look at history I’ve got various things bubbling around in my head. I’ve got some (possibly useful) stuff from another zone altogether – media theory. There’s a little touch of Saidian thinking there too (though, as a bule after all, I like to think that I’ve got a post-post-Saidian approach, which basically goes like this: “yep, I see what you’re saying; doesn’t apply to me though buddy, moved beyond all that, so you can be quiet now…” 😉 ). And doubtless the fact that my political ideas about the responsibilities of the state tilt slightly leftwards, and that I’m socially liberal are there too. Nobody is an automaton.

    But when you actively start with one of those ideologies as the fundamental driving force of your approach, then there’s a problem. Despite my aforementioned tilt, nothing makes me reach for my revolver faster than the words “Marxist Historian”. Max bloody Lane’s Unfinished [and unedited by the looks of it] bloody Nation prompted an unpleasant physical response in me (swearing and teeth-grinding mostly)…

    But a Marxist historian approaching Indonesian history is ultimately only going to make himself look silly, to fail. He is using a blunt spanner to chop an onion.
    A historian approaching Indonesia with Positions A+B outlined above, however, positions intrinsically, fundamentally, centrally part of the subject matter itself? Well, he’s going to have a real credibility problem, at the very least…

    That, Arie, is why it’s so hard for you to make a post like this one without people familiar with your wider set of standpoints and opinions leaping up barking like a pack of terriers (quite understandably)…

    ***

    I need to carry on reading this ‘ere synopsis of the Babad Bedhah ing Ngayogyakarta now (bloody dynamite it is, I tell ya!), so I can’t go addressing every last little bit, but as a wild aside to an aside to an aside:
    People with a certain ideological starting point judge the Partition of India harshly (and judge Mountbatten particularly harshly), but they pluck this idea straight out from between the ice cubes in the burra peg glass of some gout-ridden pukka sahib.
    It goes like this: the Partition of India was a travesty, a betrayal of two centuries of bloody hard work, effected by a god-awful socialite with no interest and no knowledge of India and who was far too fond of the natives (as was his ghastly bloody wife, old chap, if you hear what I’m saying).

    When these people today say “Partitioning India was bad” they are essentially using it as a cipher for something else that they might have trouble getting away with saying out loud…
    What? What, I hear you say? Come closer, I’ll have to whisper it: “giving Independence to India was bad…”

    And one last thing, as for airy dismissals of sellers of pop history, I’m in a fairly small way a seller of pop history myself, Arie, (well what else are you supposed to do if you’ve got literary pretensions and an interest in character?). No airy dismals here, but I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to take anything I turn out too seriously…

  10. avatar Ross says:

    Minor aside on Cameroon, which was only divided by the Brits and French after some years of colonial unity under Germany. Hence the people had a collective memory of being one territory.
    That in itself differentiates Cameroon from other African tribal areas that were not recognisably ‘states’ before being taken over by the European empires.
    However, I would tend to agree that the artificial boundaries imposed by us whiteys have not helped the independent successor states to be stable.
    It would have been far better to put the tribes together, but since each imperial power retreated at different speeds, that would not have been practical. It may happen, though, over time.
    And just to rile up timdog, it would surely have been better to allow a partition of India based on the princely states, whose rights we had recognised by treaty but who were sacrificed for realpolitik by Mountabatten and his London masters.
    I know they were given a choice to adhere to India or Pakistan, but they also had a third choice, self-determination.
    When Hyderabad tried to assert that, brute force was used by India, much as, later, the Goans were coerced into Indian control, no pretence of democratic consulation (perhaps timdog can tell me if the French enclave at Pondicherry was ever given even a retrospective say in its transfer from France to India? I honestly can’t find the info in the books I’ve read)
    But going back to Papua, all you need to settle the issue is a proper referendum. But it should be restricted to those born there. (that would not exclude second-generation transmigrasi settlers, but would stop the first batch from interfering.)
    This is quite a good way of passing the wee hours as I wait for news of the good guys’ triumphs in America.

    maro

  11. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Timdog

    You said:

    Arie has a position – Position A: Dutch Colonialism in Indonesia (and Papua) was nowhere near as bad as people say it was. In fact, it may have been pretty good.?What’s more, Arie also has a directly connected Position B: the Indonesians are much worse than the Dutch ever were. Arie is very confident of positions A and B; they inform and mould his approaches; they are his ideology.
    Now let’s go and have a look at some source material…

    Sorry, this will not do. You came up with a quite inadequate definition of ideology here. Of course, to have a point of view, any point of view, generally implies that one is subject to ‘confirmation bias’. This is a practical difficulty – a temptation that, if guarded against, does not prevent one from coming up with refutable propositions. The point of view, the theory one departs from, starts to have the nature of an ideology when it has a ‘fail-safe device’ that makes it irrefutable.

    Marxism is a good example. It can explain the failure of its predictions in terms of the theory and is therefore immune to falsification.

    Marxism is not the only example. One can point to certain psychoanalytic theories as well. They are endlessly ‘verified’ and it is virtually impossible to come up with observations that refute them. They will be ‘explained away’ in terms of the theory. The term ‘repression’ for instance is a handy tool here. If a person can’t remember or feel what, in terms of the theory s/he ‘ought’ to remember or feel, it is a matter of ‘repression’ – a phenomenon the theory allows for.

    You get the point. In fact, I take it that you are familiar with all of this (though it didn’t come out in your characterization of an ideology, more particularly my supposed ideology).

    Talking about my supposed ideology let me try to sketch ‘my position’, for what it is worth.

    The post-war worldwide decolonization movement was generally held, at any case by the left (among whom I count myself in spite of my supposed SOB-status), to be a great advance in the evolution of human liberty. This view has now strong traits of an ideology in the sense that, for its adherents, it remains irrefutable in spite of all evidence to the contrary. To explain this evidence away a number of auxiliary hypotheses have been devised. The fact that, in many cases, there is now less legal security in these countries, less respect for human rights, less opportunity to have one’s say, is explained away by the after effects of colonialism, or the newly occurring effects of neo colonialism, etc. In short the proposition that in this historical development we are dealing with a great evolutionary change for the better cannot be refuted.

    My first mentor in Indonesian affairs was the late W.F.Wertheim who taught the sociology and history of Southeast Asia at the University of Amsterdam. He was strongly of this view, for Indonesia throughout the Sukarno-era, but the “Orde Baru” became too much for him. The class struggle had, temporarily, failed to produce the right result.

    I am not mocking him. He was a decent man and quite knowledgeable – but prone to seemingly incurable illusions. For a while these were focused on China until, at the end of his life, he seemed to be disenchanted with developments there as well. I remember a great reviewing row in Holland that had to do with the publication of the Sinologist Simon Leys’ brilliant book “The new clothes of Chairman Mao”. The Wertheimians took offence and there was, for a while, a spirited to and fro in the columns of some journals. Leys was on record as saying that when he found, in Hong Kong, one of his main informants on mainland China on his doorstep with his throat cut, he needed no further information on the nature of that regime. You would no doubt call that an ideology.

    Back to my topic:

    The interim conclusion I have reached is that it is a wee bit more realistic to look at this worldwide decolonization movement not in terms of the emancipation of whole populations but in those of the ‘circulation of elites’. Decolonization meant that a foreign exploitative elite (all elites are exploitative) was replaced by an indigenous one that, exactly because it was indigenous, could afford to be less scrupulous about legal security and the observance of human rights. Why could it afford to be so – inter alia because there was/ is, externally, no homeland with a liberal elite that was/is yapping at its heels and, internally, no nationalist movement that was/is equally eager to do so.

    How did this ‘circulation’ come about? The weakness of the old, colonial dispensation was that its elite could not genuinely co-opt capable members of the indigenous population because it was based on a ‘colour caste’. Education was a qualification for inclusion but this was of less value than the stronger qualification of colour. The up and coming members of the indigenous elite made use of this inner contradiction and, were at the same time, greatly annoyed by it. It spurred their revolutionary fervour and in Indonesia you see indeed that highly educated members of the indigenous population that the ruling elite failed to co-opt, could not co-opt, brought about the revolution.

    So that has left us with an elite that is in many ways less scrupulous than the foreign one but, at the same time, more permeable. This might make it more stable which could be a disadvantage as far as the chances for liberty are concerned.

    However, the new dispensation has, at any case, this great advantage from the point of view of the possibilities of human liberty: it is, in theory at least, compatible with democracy. The colonial order was not, in spite of feeble gestures in that direction (in the Netherlands Indies the “Volksraad” etc.). The ultimate sanction in a democracy (and its most important one) is that the government of the day can be sent packing. This is, by definition, impossible in a colonial society because it would make an end to the colonial situation.

    So yes – though I do believe that in the last decades of the colonial order (particularly in West Papua where I have witnessed it) it was superior to the present situation in terms of legal security and the observance of basic human rights (I am open to evidence to the contrary – find me some on Papua) it offered ultimately less ‘emancipatory possibilities’ – Papua is a case apart because in ‘colonial times’ it was being prepared for independence. Will we see these possibilities develop in the so-called ‘developing’ countries? I like to think here in terms of Habermas’ distinction between the “logic of development” and the “dynamics of development”. The emancipatory possibilities are there – whether they come to fruition is a matter of contingent circumstances.

    I have one other bone of contention, one last rap on my drum.

    You wrote:

    That, Arie, is why it’s so hard for you to make a post like this one without people familiar with your wider set of standpoints and opinions leaping up barking like a pack of terriers (quite understandably)…

    Curious. That is perhaps how, to suit your own obvious prejudices, they should have behaved but they didn’t, at any case the great majority didn’t. Look again.

  12. avatar timdog says:

    Arie,
    Of course, I would hardly expect you to throw up your hands and say, “You’re right!” nor to say, “And actually, you know what? I actually am just a silly old blimp, naively pining for the days when the White Man was willingly labouring under his Burden…”

    In light of that, you could hardly have been expected to give any reply other than that that you have last given.

    However, I would still suggest that many people would suspect, on the grounds of the way you often present, that for you those Positions A+B have begun to assume “the nature of an ideology”, have for you become irrefutable. And for that reason, rightly or wrongly, you may find yourself wrestling with credibility issues (that, I’m more that happy to concede, you may not deserve)…

    Going over it any more will simply involve both of us facing away from each other and essentially talking to ourselves…

    All that said, I agree with much of your statement about “circulation of elites”, with a few caveats, however. This one for example:

    an indigenous one that, exactly because it was indigenous, could afford to be less scrupulous about legal security and the observance of human rights

    This works, but only if you ignore the entire earlier period of European colonialism. European colonialism may have been in part restrained from the worst excesses during its final decades by the presence of “a liberal elite” at home, and an “internal nationalist movement” on the ground, but there are two flaws in using this as some kind of “defense” of colonialism (if that’s what you are doing; it’s not clear).
    The first, most obvious being that the very presence of that “internal nationalist movement” makes it clear that the situation was utterly unsustainable in perpetuity.
    The second being that for the centuries-long bulk of its little slice of world history European colonialism was in no way restrained by either “a liberal elite”, nor an “internal nationalist movement” – and didn’t behave as if it was either.
    Those factors only really existed during the period when the fact that European colonialism was already doomed was abundantly apparent (with hindsight), and therefore make a very, very poor defense or justification of the wider “project” of colonialism (if, again, that’s what you wish them to be).

    But back to the point of agreement on the “circulation of elites” (lovely little phrase, as well as concept, by the way; I’d certainly never suggest it was highfalutin or anything like that…). Yes, and I’d add that particularly in the British case the first native elite was often scarcely distinguishable from the elite it replaced, culturally. But whatever enormities they might later have committed, whatever cartoonish dynasties they might have sired, you simply cannot stand Kanut-like against the great, sweeping tsunami that is the fact that, on all available evidence, people generally much prefer having their own elite at the top than someone else’s…

    Now look, I have to get back to some other stuff (not that this isn’t lots of fun, of course).
    On your final bone of contention, no, they didn’t; a lot of them came out with banal nonsense. But people who know you often do, and usually will. You’re probably stuck with that…

    ***

    Mr Ross, as an aside to an aside to an aside to an aside,

    it would surely have been better to allow a partition of India based on the princely states

    Actually, on the face of it, it probably would have made more sense than the partition that did occur.
    However, there are problems with the proposal if you start to look closely at the reality. I know that you have a hard-on for royalty, but actually very many of the Indian princes didn’t have that much real authenticity as royals. And very many of them ruled states scarcely bigger than an English parish, and weren’t in effect anything more than equivalent to a pre-industrial English country squire, and pre-Raj had always been vassals of someone else (if they even existed at all), and therefore were not really either legitimate or practical as independent entities.

    Several others were much more so, not least Hyderabad, but there was always going to be a legitimacy problem with Hyderabad and the other big beast, Kashmir. In Hyderabad you had a culturally isolated (even in terms of the language they spoke) Muslim elite ruling a huge non-Muslim majority with a great deal more in cultural common with the neighbouring peoples in “India proper” than with their ruling royals. In Kashmir you had the exact opposite scenario.

    The royal house of Hyderabad at least had a real pedigree, but that of Kashmir was entirely a colonial construct. First Maharaja Ghulab was merely a common soldier of Ranjit Singh who got himself appointed as vassal Raja of Jammu. He then embarked with tacit Sikh approval on a series of expansionist adventures of his own, seizing Baltistan and Ladakh. He even, outrageously, invaded and attempted to seize Tibet. The British then sold Kashmir to him and appointed him Maharaja when they defeated the Sikhs. He continued his expansionism (now with tacit British support) westwards into Dardistan, and both he and his son Ranbir, it is very well attested by contemporary British sources, were the most appalling despots, and treated their own subjects – the vast majority of who, outside of the small pocket of Jammu, had absolutely no sympathy or common culture with them – atrociously.

    Most Kashmiris today, it seems, would indeed prefer independence to either continued Indian rule, or incorporation into Pakistan – but certainly not under the glorified warlords who caused all the problems in the first place…

    So, that’s the problem with “independence for the princely states”. It could never have been practically applied across the Subcontinent. Some legitimate “princes” who might have had the support of their people weren’t ever going to be financially or physically viable as independent (what with their “realm” being not much bigger than a football pitch); others were “legitimate” (eg. Hyderabad) but faced with an insurmountable flaw for survival in a modern world (ie. the utter cultural disconenct between the royals and the people). Still others (eg. Kashmir) were simply a tissue of outrages that shouldn ‘t really have existed in the first place.

    A whole new commission would have had to be founded to go through them one by one deciding which could, and which should made the grade. Impossible obviously.

    My personal feeling is that, having been brought into existence as a political entity, India should either have remained whole, or have been dismantled entirely (though not – as a principle – on princely lines for the very obvious reasons outlined above. This is actually the course that Pakistan irresistibly followed later on(part of the way, anyway).
    Though it’s the poorest and weakest of the three, out of the nations born of British India, Bangladesh now makes by far the most sense as a country…

    Kashmir is kind of a speciality of mine, but Pondicherry, I’m afraid, is a glaring gap in my knowledge. I’ve never been there, and don’t really know about its political background or status…

  13. avatar Oigal says:

    That was impressive Timdog, I enjoy reading your work always learn something..Which contrary to some opinions I can still do

  14. avatar Ross says:

    Thanks for that response, timdog.
    Interesting analysis, worthy of study before any rejoinders.
    I must find out about Pondicherry.

  15. avatar timdog says:

    Hey, thanks mister! I do go on a bit; glad someone like it… 🙂

  16. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Timdog

    you simply cannot stand Kanut-like against the great, sweeping tsunami that is the fact that, on all available evidence, people generally much prefer having their own elite at the top than someone else’s…

    I would like to make a few marginal notes to that statement. It is, of course, what Orwell said way back before the whole decolonisation movement started. But he said it a bit differently. I can’t find his exact words but it was something along the line that people would rather be governed badly by their own than well by foreigners.

    I don’t have to point out the difference.

    And where is Orwell now we need him. I wonder whether he still would have maintained this seeing the situation in Burma today. He was at any case not worried about standing “Kanut like” against all kinds of ‘received opinions’.

    But I would like to turn to a much humbler voice. That of my own wife. She, for one, regrets that the Americans left the Philikppines seeing the mess her country is in today. She, of course, would never have had an earthly chance of belonging to an elite of any description if she had stayed there.

    Hers is not an isolated voice. There was in the Philippines for a while (they might have given up by now) a group that was pushing for statehood within the American realm – the 51st state if I remember correctly. Incidentally, there was a similar movement in the Minahassa to become the twelfth province of Holland – but we will leave that aside. Though I can’t resist to quote David Henley, who wrote a well informed book about the place. His judgment was that in the Minahassa they had experienced a ‘relatively benign’ colonial government. Incidentally, Multatuli served there once – as Secretary to the Resident. He wrote some interesting letters from there to his brother Pieter.

    Back to the Americans.

    They had, as far as historical judgment on their performance is concerned, the great advantage that they arrived late on the scene when ‘liberal’ ideas had already started to influence that kind of exercise. So that judgment suffers, in their case, never from the kind of anachronism that we can frequently find in statements about Dutch colonialism – you know when one is regaled on (generally not all too well informed) tales aboutVOC practices as a preliminary to the conclusion that it was all very terrible.

    Not that American rule is not open to criticism – but that would lead me too far.

    In the case of Java I wonder to what extent before the war ordinary desa people knew that they were ruled by foreigners. As you know there was a system of double administration with the Dutch resident and the Indonesian ‘regent’ at the head of their respective underlings. Most often those villagers would deal with an Indonesian official whereas they would be only occasionally visited by a Dutch ‘controleur’ (district officer). But it is too late to find out now.

    I do know that I have talked to ordinary Indonesians in the nineties who had a hazy idea that they were once ruled by foreigners but didn’t have a clue as to what nationality they were.

    Finally, I wish that you would get it out of your head that I wish to defend colonialism as such – against all comers. I blog and have blogged mainly about three matters: the Palestinian question, climate change and the colonial past. In that order. What keeps me going on all three matters is that there is, to my feeling, a lot of misinformation about on all three of them. On the first of these I was, to a very advanced age, a victim of that : I believed all these tales about “a land without people for a people without land”, about how the latter had made “the desert bloom”, how the Palestinians had left ” of their own free will” on the instigation of their own leaders, how the war of 1948 had been a “David against Goliath” affair etc.. When a chance event induced me to do some proper research on these matters I felt a fool and turned to blogging with a vengeance. You can find my handiwork all over the internet but I better stop here because I don’t want to stir the hornets’ nest that these topics have proved to be on this blog as well.

  17. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Timdog

    Oh and just another matter.

    Please don’t feel obliged to ‘instruct’ me regarding Orwell’s anti imperialist opinions. I have read the Penguin edition of his Essays and Letters from cover to cover and have often returned to it. I have also read virtually all his novels except Animal Farm that everyone else seems to have read. This is because I can’t stand ‘animal fables’ especially those with a didactic purpose. That kind of thing should have gone out with the medieval “Reineke Fuchs”.

    I have used O’s ‘Shooting an Elephant” and ‘A Hanging’ for illustrations in my lectures and even, way back, induced a student of nursing (my wife) at a loss for an essay topic in the sociology of medicine course she had to undergo to look at his essay ‘How the poor die’ in the light of Ervin Goffman’s ‘Asylums’ (there are striking parallels).

    Oh and I can vouch, if that is necessary, for the authenticity, though not the exact wording, of my Orwell quote.

  18. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I am a great one for post scripta suffering, very frequently, from ‘l’esprit d’escalier’.

    Just this.

    I can’t recall that I have ever read anything of yours that could be construed as even remotely critical of the present Indonesian regime. Please correct me when I am wrong. It is also conspicuous that, having come up with many letters on this thread, you have said absolutely nothing about its actual topic apart from, indirectly, throwing doubt on my opinions by painting them in SOB-colours (you have a talent for that kind of thing, I grant you that, but it is of course a pretty cheap exercise – gouty old colonials, especially of the British variety, are easily satirized).

    Even Oigal and Ross, with whom I have had some nasty fights on other matters, have not chosen to quarrel with me on this one and gave their opinions. From you not a word.

  19. avatar Oigal says:

    Even Oigal and Ross, with whom I have had some nasty fights on other matters, have not chosen to quarrel with me on this one and gave their opinions. From you not a word

    Apart from the chills provided as being included in the same sentence as Ross there is a very simple reason I have not really engaged in this discussion. Frankly it bemuses and puzzles me!
    The fact that the TNI has been openly accused with damning evidence yet again torturing and mistreating Indonesia citizens somehow turns into nonsensical discussion about the rights and wrongs of the Dutch Occupation astounds me. Worse we have plonkers like the PM of Australia praising Indonesia on its vibrant democracy and commitment to human rights which is enough to make any reasonable person gag.

    The provinces now are treated as poorly as they have ever been under any colonial rule with Military and Police repression being the rule rather than the exception however it is a pointless and meaningless discussion to think there would ever be (or should be) a return Colonial Occupation (As opposed to the current exploitation by an elite few).

    Personally I would have thought the most recent news would have generated intense debate about where Indonesia is going and how to reign in the Robber Barons and their instruments of terror, instead we get pining for the jolly ol days of Western Occupation or some bizarre defence that it’s ok to torture and oppress our citizens because Aboriginals and Indians were/are treated badly.

    About all I can raise is a general disgust at the whole damn thing.

  20. avatar Arie Brand says:

    a pointless and meaningless discussion to think there would ever be (or should be) a return Colonial Occupation (As opposed to the current exploitation by an elite few)

    .

    You are apparently stronger on feeling and expressing disgust than on reading things properly. Perhaps one thing prevents the other.

  21. avatar rustyprince says:

    Going by the written evidence in this thread I have no idea why they’re ganging up calling you a Neo-imperialist. And cheers Arlie for enlightening me here and on Timdog’s lit thread from a few months back.
    What the Papuans and all Indonesian’s need are solid rights to ownership and control of their own land. Why should one farmer in Western Australia be compensated with $150million and a whole village in Indonesia get $1million for the discovery and rights to extract gold from under their land.
    After 4 years now living in a number of different parts of Indonesia I do believe police brutality to be exaggerated. Isolated incidences do occur but even in Papua its a long way removed from the plight of the Palestinians or even the Northern Irish a few decades back. There is however a very tangible racism directed at Papuans and this is probably responsible for a lot of the ongoing grievances Papuans feel.

  22. avatar Arie Brand says:

    You miss the point Ari, not your tome that disgusts but the fact no one seems to get rats arse about what is occuring right now..

    The fact that the TNI has been openly accused with damning evidence yet again torturing and mistreating Indonesia citizens somehow turns into nonsensical discussion about the rights and wrongs of the Dutch Occupation astounds me.

    You seem to be on the wrong thread. That particular bit of scoundrelism was raised in another thread. I discussed the matter of Indonesia’s claim to Papua and do not take responsibility for the fact that it was turned into a debate about the rights and wrongs of the Dutch occupation.

    If you feel that people are missing a point you might ask yourself whether you presented it clearly enough and didn’t clutter it up with other stuff.

  23. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Thanks Rustyprince.

    It is bedtime here so I will react to your letter tomorrow, as I will to that of the other contributor who raised the matter of land rights (not that I have much to contribute on that score).

  24. avatar Ross says:

    What on earth is Rusty on about?
    Northern Irish?
    The RUC had to fight a vicious and cowardly terrorist movement, which was intent on placing the entirety of Ulster under foreign rule, in defiance of its people’s wishes, expressed over and over again via the ballot-box.
    They did so bravely, and got kicked in the teeth in the Bad Sunday sell-out as their reward for tremendous self-sacrifice.
    Brutality may not have been the monopoly of SInn Fein/IRA, but they were responsible for the great majority of its perpetration in Ulster.

  25. avatar rustyprince says:

    Ok Ross,maybe a more appropriate comparison can be made with the Black populace of the US, who faced an onslaught of racism, discrimination and violence solely because of their skin tone and hair. Police Brutality continues to this day with the inane ‘war on drugs’, on substances that the Lancet claims are less harmful then alcohol, which you seem to have quite a fondness for Ross. And what are the figures around 40% of Black men will spend time in jail, and the huge no’s brutalized by the cops.
    Indonesian authorites have made mistakes in Papua but they have not been as systematic as the White Elite WASP’s in the US who surrepticiously use drugs to conduct their rape of Black Pride.

    Arie there is the added divergence of religion between the Papuans and majority of Indonesians. But its interesting how the sectarian wars in Maluku never spread to West Papua which has a large well settled Islamic pop. I think this happened for two reasons.
    1. The Maluku conflict was instigated or allowed to escalate by the remnants of the New Order with the possibility they could utilise a state of emergency there to retake power/arrest democracy/undermine truely reform minded pol’s eg Gus Dur
    2. That it didn’t spread to Papua shows that much of the trouble was created by agent provacateurs and that the Indonesian Elite, even the New Order/Suharto acolytes are more senstive to avoiding an escalation in Papua and it ties in with many extra benefits which are rewarded to Papuans but not other Indonesians eg scholarships to further education and paid pilgrimages to Jeresualem. Also very few restrictions are made on the vast Christian Missionary network operating in Papua. As I said to Ross the US Black populace are under the yolk of a more brutal regime which that charlatan Obama, who used his skin tone to get elected, has done nothing to ameliorate.

  26. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Rustyprince Ottis

    Ottis you asked whether Indonesia had signed the “UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples”. This was, I think, not a matter of individual signatories but of a vote on the 13th Sept. 2007, in the 107-108 meetings of the UN General Assembly. Indonesia is not listed among the votes against and there were no abstentions. It concerns, however, a non-binding document open to wide interpretation.

    As far as land tenure in Papua is concerned the basic legal artifact is still, as far as I know, the “Undang-undang pokok agraria” (Basic Agrarian Law) of 1960. In spite of its misleading name this law deals with all forms of land tenure, not just agrarian property. Though in theory this law provides protection to the traditional relationship with the land that communal groups have (hak ulayat) in actual practice it rarely seems to do so.

    In 1999 an adviser to the Indonesian government on land law, Warren R.Wright, stated , inter alia, “the general conclusion is that, from a legal perspective, … tenures …remain continually liable to forfeiture to the State, usually without just compensation …the result is that rather than there being a developed system of private land law, there is constant intervention in and control over land tenure by the State” . This also holds for the “hak ulayat” on which the report says “there is little or no effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples”.

    In Papua one of the most conspicuous, though certainly not the only, case of this was that of the Amungme. I quote from Chris Ballard’s article “The Denial of Traditional Land Rights in West Papua” in Cultural Survival 26.3 Fall 2002.

    http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/the-denial-traditional-land-rights-west-papua

    The case of the Amungme and Kamoro communities of the Timika area, where mining, transmigration, and even conservation interests have taken precedence over traditional land rights, illustrates well the multiple forms of encroachment suffered by traditional landowners in West Papua. The establishment of the Freeport copper and gold mine on Amungme territory in the Central Highlands of West Papua in 1967 was the beginning of a long history of dispossession.

    When the Amungme joined the 1977 province-wide uprising against Indonesian rule, they attacked the mine as a symbol of the Suharto regime. The ensuing military repression devastated local communities and destroyed all hope for reconciliation between the company and the Amungme. From 1979 until 1986 the government made repeated attempts, with Freeport support, to relocate Amungme settlements from the vicinity of the mine in the highlands to sites near the lowland township of Timika. In most instances, Amungme soon returned to their highland valleys. From 1985, the government initiated a program of transmigration to the Timika area, establishing a series of large settlements whose non-Papuan residents would supply the mine’s various contractors with labor. The Kamoro people, owners of the lowland plains around Timika, received little or no compensation for these developments.

    The 1987 discovery of the Grasberg ore-mountain greatly boosted Freeport’s wealth and national significance; by 1995, the mine’s reserve value was estimated at over US$54 billion. The discovery attracted both additional international scrutiny of the mine’s environmental and social impacts and further interest from the Indonesian government, which declared the mine a strategic national asset and installed a permanent military detachment to guarantee its security. From 1994 to 1997, the growing military presence in the area resulted in increased conflict with the Amungme community and a long list of human rights abuses, including murder, torture, rape, and disappearance.

    Freeport has made belated attempts to come to retrospective agreements with Kamoro communities over both the “release” of lands for Freeport’s township site at Kuala Kencana and for the destruction of their environment through the direct dumping of mine waste into rivers. None of these “special recognition” arrangements, however, are the result of genuine negotiations with the community over the location, the scale, or the pace of development.

    Under a “Special Autonomy” package granted to West Papua in January 2002, the province is set to reap a more substantial proportion of economic benefits from major resource projects like mining, timber, and oil/gas. While the provisions of the new law fall well short of the demands of most West Papuans for outright independence, a process of debate has been initiated over the scope for reinstating traditional land rights within the implementing legislation for Special Autonomy. Whether such a move could succeed, or have any impact on the ground, depends on other factors, such as the future role of the security forces in business at a local level and the possibility of an impartial judiciary. The past offers little hope for the future on either count.

  27. avatar Ross says:

    Rusty, you have never met me and I assume you refer to my fondness for alcohol based on my mention of different bars on Ross’s Right Angle.
    It is possible to go to a bar and not emerge legless. I do so often, and rarely drink at home, because it is a social thing for me. I’m also too busy these days with blogging.
    I am not concerned with junkies, nor am I going to ask if you are fond of dope, or booze….it is hardly relevant, is it?
    But your comments about white America’s wickedness is again totally over the top.
    It was white voters who were intimidated by Panther thugs in 2008, it was a black Justice Department which failed to do justice in that case, and the pro-black racist ‘affirmative action’ programmes are unfair to whites.
    timdog, the idea of basing partition on the princely states need not have been dismissed due to their size. If Europe can have a San Marino or Monaco, the great sub-continent could have enjoyed some tiny principalities too. But would not most of them have been ready to ‘do a Malaysia’ and federate as monarchies?
    I am prepared to accept your description of the Maharajah of Kashmir as a less than perfect ruler, but the humble origins of the dynasty in themselves are no big deal.
    The Bernadottes in Sweden were ‘come-lately’ kings, imposed by Napoleon after the old royal family was ousted. Bernadotte was a mere subaltern if I recall, but his heirs are now well-liked in their adopted country.
    However, I don’t want to create further diversions to Arie’s Papuan point.
    Suffice to say that Papuans, like any other recognisable ethnic group, should be free to determine their status, part of Indonesia if they are happy, or a confederal arrangement, or independent.

  28. avatar rustyprince says:

    Ross, I and everyone I know drinks. I like you am only a social drinker but I have met countless people who have a problem with the demon drink and it is demonstrable in the British, Irish and Eastern European gene-pool, which includes the mutts in Nth America and Antipodes that drink causes social havoc and that attempts to eradicate it only creates more social upheaval and benefits organized crime and the police/incarceration industry.
    Come-on Ross why do you follow your betters, the WASP Elite, direction on this pointless discrimatory war. The only reason I can think for its continuance is ‘economic productivity’ make us all robots and consumers. They permit alcohol because it ultimately creates aggression which is useful for expansion. Likewise the way cocaine is revered on Wall Street.
    For the more open-minded read the Lancet and repeal these crazy drug laws. You’ll be saving Mexico, Columbia and helping defeat the Taliban all in one go.

  29. avatar Ross says:

    Rusty, by sheer coincidence, I opened the latest edition of Spiked 2/11 and found an entertaining article by Rob Lyons. he actually agrees with you on legalisation of certain drugs, but he is not uptight about alcohol.
    “We could, for example, keep records of everyone who turns up in the accident and emergency department of the local hospital because they have drunk too much or they’ve fallen over due to being three sheets to the wind. But even if we did so, we would know nothing about the far greater number of people who had a good night, who were able to unwind after a stressful day or kindled a romance thanks to a little Dutch courage. ”
    As to your theory that WASP (or any other) regimes encourage drinking to enhance aggressive expansionism, I can’t quite see how you get there.
    An army may march on its stomach, but if that gut is replete with Scotch or even strong ale, it won’t be up to much on the battle field.

  30. avatar realest says:

    I would describe Sultanates signing treaties with Dutch/British colonial powers at that time similar to an 80 year old american granny defending her foreclosures without a lawyer in a case of signed contracts written in Russian – which is totally fair by my standards. Everyone’s happy (^o^)/

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