At a showing of the documentary West Papua—a journey to freedom by Multicultural Arts Victoria, Herman Wainggai, the film’s chief protagonist, questioned the wisdom of Australia’s gift to Indonesia of four Hercules aircraft.

“How do you know if Indonesia will use these Hercules for ‘disaster-relief’ operations, or for the ‘Military enters village’ program (TMMD) in West Papua?” he asked patrons of the Emerge Film Festival at Treasury Theatre in Melbourne.

TMMD, according to the Commander of the Indonesian Security Forces, “aims at empowering …. security or disaster-prone regions, border areas, conflict-prone areas in the outer islands …..still marked with terrorism, separatism” … (The Jakarta Post, 17 Dec 2011).  The Army Chief-of-Staff, General Pramono Edhie Wibowo, was more specific, claiming “The villages where TNI chooses to conduct the TMMD programs are those that we believe are likely to be influenced by the OPM” (The Jakarta Globe, 4 Aug 2011).
The Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne tried to prevent Multicultural Arts Victoria from showing West Papua—a journey to freedom, according to an Indonesian source, personally threatening executives with violations of the Lombok Treaty and ‘funding cuts’.

The Lombok Treaty between Indonesia and Australia was ratified by the Rudd government in 2008.  Clause 2.3 commits both to not support or participate in activities that constitutes a threat to the stability,
sovereignty or territorial integrity of the other Party, including by those who seek to use its territory for encouraging or committing separatism.

The treaty was, ironically, constructed by the Howard government after it granted political asylum to forty-three West Papuans, led by Wainggai, after their heroic circumnavigation of their homeland and odyssey across the Arafura Sea to Australia in a traditional canoe.

Herman Wainggai is from the Federated Republic of West Papua, and a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University in Virginia (School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution).

Australia West Papua Association (Melbourne)
Po box 1093  Windsor 3182  victoria
(61) (03) 9510 2193