The wrong side of history – again! – Minto

Posted on February 12, 2013 by admin in John Minto, Mana Blog

Parliament’s new speaker David Carter has scored a well deserved own goal with his decision to ban West Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda from parliament. Benny had been invited to a joint Mana Party/Green Party meeting in parliament to brief New Zealand MPs on the independence struggle.

It’s a safe bet Carter had never heard of West Papua, would not have been able to find it on a map and wouldn’t have had a clue what Benny’s visit was about. But now thanks to Carter’s stupidity Benny has received widespread media coverage for the cause of independence in West Papua.

Carter probably knows now that West Papua was invaded by Indonesia in 1963 because it wanted because of the territory’s enormous mineral and forestry wealth and the people have lived under a brutal military occupation ever since. The US supported the invasion and the United Nations rubber-stamped a gerrymandered vote whereby a small group of hand-picked West Papuans voted to remain with Indonesia after being threatened with violence it their dared to vote otherwise.

In short the Melanesian people of West Papua want independence but the Indonesian government, working hand in glove with multinational mining and forestry companies, is plundering the territory’s wealth for huge profits and big kickbacks.

Despite this being a massive human rights violation in our neighbourhood – West Papua sits just above Australia as the western half of Papua New Guinea – the issue rarely gets coverage here because neither Labour nor National want to criticize Indonesia. Human rights comes well behind trade and diplomatic self interest for these neo-liberal parties.

Benny is here to advocate for the withdrawal of Indonesian troops and independence for West Papua. The people don’t want much – just a much delayed justice.

West Papua has striking similarities to East Timor. In Timor’s case Indonesia invaded in 1975 and did its best to crush the independence movement there spearheaded by Fretelin.

Fretelin speakers were denied recognition by New Zealand governments who refused to meet them and even denied them visas to visit here. Labour Prime Minister David Lange rejected human rights appeals and said Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor was “irreversible” and the government would not support the East Timorese struggle. The East Timorese saw it differently and conducted a military campaign against the Indonesian occupation which finally forced a change in the US, Australian and New Zealand positions.

Overnight New Zealand politicians welcomed independence for East Timor and pretended they had supported it all along.

West Papua will be free the people will gain independence despite the sad, pathetic position taken by our government towards leaders such as Benny Wenda.

Carter showed just how blindly provincial National MPs can be. They were on the wrong side of history with South Africa, East Timor and now West Papua. It doesn’t get much more pathetic than that.