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Busy week for Indonesia

Updated On: Apr 25, 2006

Indonesia has had a busy week with a flurry of diplomatic activities, witnessing major initiatives and events related to Papua and Aceh as well as developments with its bid for the UN human rights council.

Papua and Aceh have been the two recent major preoccupations within Indonesia.  

With regards to Aceh, the EU through its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana has expressed concern that Indonesian parliament had missed the March 31 deadline for the bill that would cement a peace deal last August between Jakarta and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).  Indonesian parliamentarians argue that delays were deliberate to defuse nationalistic fears the bill would end up with resource-rich Aceh splitting from Indonesia. The EU is also worried that debates on the draft have been directionless without a clear date for an up or down vote. The bill is crucial to the peace deal as one of the concessions from Indonesia was to pass laws giving Aceh control of most of its affairs and giving former GAM rebels a chance to form a local political party to contest in direct elections. The bill would have regulated Aceh's first direct gubernatorial elections. Aware of slower than usual developments, Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he would ask the European Union to extend its Aceh peace monitoring mission two months beyond their June deadline so they could oversee the polls, which will be contested by former rebels.

On the Papua front, Greenpeace Papua chapter chairman Abner Korwa indicated to the media on 19 April 2006 that the rampant existence of companies which hold forest concessions have led to the growing forest degradation in Papua. According to him, these companies have not reforested Papua despite their logging activities. In response to Greenpeace criticisms of Papua's environmental record and Indonesia's environmental record in general, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for efforts to save the country's forests, environment and natural resources immediately and without delay. About 59 million hectares of forests in the country had been damaged and the condition might get worse as some two millions hectares of forest areas were damaged annually due to illegal logging activities, which also harmed the flora and fauna ecosystem. President Yudhoyono said he was “ashamed” that Indonesia exported haze to its neighbours and hence want to declare “a war against haze”. 

On the international arena, the number of Indonesia's rivals for membership in the United Nations' Human Rights Council keeps rising in the run-up to the election on9 May 2006. The number of candidates from the Asian region which have registered their bids increased to 17 countries.

Indonesia`s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Rezlan Ishar Jenie made a last pitch effort for Indonesia's cause: "We are the third most populous nation in Asia, and a democracy as well as the largest Muslim nation in the world. We also have strong commitment to upholding human rights". One of Indonesia's closest competitors is Malaysia although the latter tries to play down the rivalry. Malaysia released public statements that it does not see Indonesia as its competitor in the nomination for the United Nations Human Rights Council membership. Malaysia's bid representative Datuk Hamidon Ali however reiterated that Malaysia also has commitments to improving the current human rights condition.

Sources:

EU hopeful Indonesia will pass Aceh bill soon (Antara, 23 April 2006)

Save Forests Now, Yudhoyono Says (Antara, 23 April 2006)

Indonesia sets August date for elections in tsunami-ravaged Aceh (Jakarta Post, 23 April 2006)

Forest fires bring shame to nation: SBY (Jakarta Post, 23 April 2006)

Indonesia sets August date for elections in tsunami-ravaged Aceh (Jakarta Post, 23 April 2006)

Malaysia not consider Indonesia as competitor in UN human rights council membership (23 April 2006)

RI facing more competitors for UN rights council membership (Jakarta Post, 22 April 2006)

EU offers to share integration experience with ASEAN (Antara, 22 April 2006)

Green Peace: Tendency towards deforestation increasing in Papua (Antara, 19 April 2006)







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