Fw: IN/PNG: 4th World Movements (fwd)

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Tue, 9 May 1995 18:23:59 -0500

Seminar Series on Negotiating Cultural Borderzones, Murdoch University,
Friday, 31 March 1995.

George Junus Aditjondro

When ten thousand West Papuans fled to PNG in early 1984, the Indonesian
government was outraged, despite the fact that those who voted by feet
were only a tiny fraction of Indonesia's population. It tried to put
pressure on the PNG government to return the "border-crossers," as the
Indonesian government officially called them to avoid the term
"refugees," which was not very successful.
This incident indicates that states do not only lay claim on a
territory, but also lay claim over all the people who happen to live
within the borders of that territory, are thus assumed to belong to that
nation-state. For those who had voluntarily chosen to belong to that
nation, there are no problems. They may disagree with the government of
that state, and oppose that government in overt or covert ways, but they
may still feel to belong to that nation. The territorial cum demographic
imperative of that nation-state however, does not apply to the people(s)
who feel that they were classified as subjects of that state against
their free will. They feel that the state is bordering, or rather,
fencing them in.
The latter case applies to West Papuans who believe that they
became Indonesian citizens by "historical accident". First, they were
claimed to be subjects of the sultanate of Tidore in North Maluku. After
that sultanate yielded to the Dutch, their subjects were "automatically"
regarded to become Dutch subjects. Eventually, since Indonesia claimed
to be the rightful heir of the former Dutch East Indies, the identity of
those "Dutch subjects" was changed again to become Indonesian citizens.
Then, in 1969 these "Indonesian citizens" lost the opportunity to become
"official West Papuans" due to the UN-sactioned "Act of Free Choice,"
where all the indigenous people were represented by Indonesian-approved
leaders, who were forced to decide in favor of remaining as Indonesian
citizens (Ryan, 1971).
That "unofficial" West Papuans" still hope to become "official"
West Papuans can be shown from the fact that until 1988, numerous
"declarations of West Papuan independence" have been issued. In
addition, until New Year 1996, the OPM flag, the "Morning Star", was
still flying on the top of Mt. Tsinga near Tembagapura, Freeport
Indonesia's mining town.
Apart from the West Papuans, there are peoples - or "nations",
as they prefer to call themselves all over the world who feel themselves
to be "misfits" in their present states. It is also not a typical
non-European phenomenon, since Europe, the cradle of transcontinental
colonialism, also has its own share of "misfits". So also has most of
the transplanted European nation-states in the Americas and Oceania.
The existing nation-states can seldom be trusted to defend the
self-determination rights of these peoples wholeheartedly, because the
international behaviour of nation-states is strongly influenced by
pragmatic and self-serving interests. In PNG, for instance, where a
strong Melanesian solidarity spirit provided some room for manouvering
for the West Papuan independence movement, fear for Indonesia caused the
PNG government to exile most OPM leaders that had been caught after
crossing the border.
And in defiance of the spirit of Melanesian solidarity, the
former PNG defense minister, Ted Diro, had been found guilty of accepting
bribes of A$ 132,000 to US$ 180,000 from his Indonesian counterpart,
General Benny Murdani (The Bulletin, June 23, 1995: 28 ; Robie, 1989:
63; Thompson & MacWilliam, 1992: 27). So how could one imagine that PNG
would really support their West Papuan brothers and sisters ?
Likewise, in the diplomatic struggle for East Timor's
independence, China ended its support for East Timor in the UN venues
after normalizing its diplomatic relation with Indonesia. In the mean
time, China kept oppressing its own "East Timor", Tibet.
My own country, Indonesia, had supported the independence
struggle of Namibia and is still strongly supporting the independence
struggle of the Bosnians (from the yoke of a fellow NAM founder), while
brutally suppressing the East Timor, West Papua, and Aceh independence
struggles waged within Indonesia's official borders. And while it is
publicly supporting the Palestinian struggle for self-determination (a.o.
by attacking every indonesian citizen that has visited Israel), Indonesia
is silently covering up Morocco's attempts to deny the Sahrawi's right to
This pragmatic and self-serving interest of governments, which
reflects the interest of the most powerful groups in their societies, has
given birth to the emergence of a "Fourth World" movement of peoples or
nations which are not (yet) represented in the UN.
This global movement does not only include the "unrepresented"
peoples or nations, but also governmental and non-governmental
organizations, agencies, and individuals who support the plight of the
"Fourth World". Though bounded by a common empathy with all "collective
underdogs", based on a global and inclusive humanism, there is a tendeny
among these organizations, agencies and individuals, to specialize on the
groups which do share some common demoninators with them.

1) Indonesian academic, who has for 20 years - as journalist, as rural
development worker, and as lecturer - studied the "indo-Melanesian"
cultural borderzone by focusing on the social upheavals in Indonesia's
Melanesian fringe as well as in Melanesian enclaves abroad. This
longitudinal research includes interviewing members of the Melanesian
diaspora residing in non-Melanesian nation-staes, namely in the
Netherlands, the USA, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Portugal.

Robie, David, 1989. Blood on their banner: Nationalist struggles in the
South Pacific. Pluto Press Australia.
Ryan, John, 1971. The hot land: Focus on New Guinea. macmillan.
Thompson, Herb and Scott Macwilliam, 1992. The political economy of
Papua New Guinea. Manila and Wollongong: Journal of Contemporary Asia




Alex G. Bardsley: agb1@postoffice3.mail.cornell.edu