Tag Archives: human rights

The Dutch Return, This Time as Friends

Cornelis de Houtman, the first Dutch traveler to arrive in Indonesia and generations of other Dutch officials, traders and investors that came later, knew well how Indonesia could provide a lifeline for the Netherlands for hundreds of years, while making themselves very rich in the process.

And now, with Europe still struggling to cope with an economic downturn, Indonesia’s significance is back on the table, offering massive opportunities for the Dutch economy.

The Netherlands is sending its largest delegation since the independence of its former colony in 1945, a visit that has been dubbed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as “the most serious effort to synergize the two countries that have deep historical ties for the sake of present and future mutual benefits.”

Dutch PM Mark RutteRutte, who leads 200 businesspeople representing more than 100 companies and research institutes on a three-day visit, will meet today with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the Netherlands aims to build a new chapter of deeper cooperations with Indonesia, while trying to offset incidents that have damaged relations with its former colony in recent years.

“We have a long and difficult history together. But we must focus on the future, not only on the past, for the mutual benefits of the two countries,” Rutte told the Jakarta Globe in an interview in his office last week.

New era of relations

To show that the visit is historic and crucial, Rutte and Yudhoyono will sign an unprecedented joint declaration on comprehensive partnership between the two countries to take the relations to a new high.

The declaration will become an umbrella agreement for both countries to boost their cooperation further.

“The declaration marks the new era of our relations and cooperation. The partnership will focus on water management, logistics, infrastructure, food security and agriculture and education,” said Rutte, who will be accompanied by several key ministers and officials, including Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen and Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma.

Rutte stressed that what is important for both the Netherlands and Indonesia is how the countries can benefit each other in the future.

Bernard Bot, an influential Dutch senior diplomat and former foreign minister, who declared in 2005 that the Netherlands acknowledged Indonesia’s independence in 1945, agreed that it’s time for both countries to come to terms with past and move ahead. “There’s so much we can do together for the sake of our future,” he said.

“It’s for real now,” Retno LP Marsudi, the Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands, said in a separate interview.

Concrete offers

On water management, the Netherlands has funded a master plan for a massive sea wall in Jakarta Bay to prevent tidal flooding and to manage the flow of water within the capital.

The area behind the 35-kilometer long, 15-kilometer wide wall will be turned into office complexes, malls and other commercial buildings. There is even a plan to relocate all government offices to the area once it is completed by 2025.

“The master plan will be finished by early next year and groundbreaking will begin later in the year,” Retno said.

The Netherlands, Rutte said, has always had to deal with high water and sea waves in order to survive, considering that the country is partly below sea level. He added that his country would bring state-of-the-art technology for Indonesia to use.

“It’s time for the Netherlands to empower Indonesians by equipping them to fish, not by merely providing the fish,” said Jesse Kuijper, a businessman who will join Rutte to Jakarta and who heads the Netherlands-based Indonesia-Nederland Society.

On logistics, Dutch companies could help Indonesia build world-class seaports across the country while in agriculture several Dutch firms have offered their Indonesian counterparts investment and technology to enable the country’s farmers to produce food with the latest technology at a time when prices are rising and the nation is struggling to feed its people.

“The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products, and we have many areas we can work together,” said Rutte.

In education, Indonesia has asked the Netherlands to treat Indonesian students as local students, so that they pay lower tuition fees. “It would be an excellent gesture from the Dutch government if the Indonesian students are treated as locals,” said Kuijper.

Difficult time in Europe

Rutte acknowledged that Europe and the Netherlands are facing tough times. “We have a difficult period at the moment. I do believe that we have made good strides but there is still a long way to go,” he said.

He said he admired Indonesia’s high economic growth of 6 percent annually. “We are jealous,” he said, smiling.

The latest figures from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) show the Netherlands economy grew by just0,1 percent in the last quarter compared to the previous.

The CBS also reported that there were 46,000 fewer jobs in the third quarter.

“Indonesia can offer Dutch businesspeople a place for investment with a huge market of 240 million people and a growing middle class of over 100 million, as well as entry gate to the bigger market of Asean,” said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences.

He said the Netherlands now sees Indonesia as a successful democracy with long-term stability. “Relations between Indonesia and the Dutch should be more special — more than other ties — because we have a long history together. We can synergize, with Indonesia providing natural resources and markets and the Dutch providing capital, knowledge and technology,” Aleksius said.

He added that the Netherlands can offer Indonesia the opportunity to become a producer and not just a consumer. “It is now depending on Indonesia to realize the goals,” Aleksius said.

The Netherlands already is Indonesia’s second-biggest trading partner in Europe. In 2012, trade between the two countries was worth $4.7 billion.

Blast form the past

Relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands have experienced ups and downs, with two incidents proving particularly embarrassing for leaders of both countries in the last few years.

President Yudhoyono was forced to cancel his trip to the Netherlands in 2010 after a group of Moluccan independence activists filed a motion in the Dutch courts to arrest the president for gross human rights violations in Maluku and Papua.

Relations became tense after the trip was canceled, with many in Indonesia blaming the Dutch for insulting Yudhoyono.

The relations plunged into a new low when the Dutch government had to cancel the sale of Leopard tanks to Indonesia last year after the parliament voted to reject the deal. Indonesia then angrily turned to Germany to buy the same tanks.

Rutte, who loves Indonesian food like nasi goreng and sate and whose parents lived for some time in Indonesia, gave assurances such incidents would not happen again under his administration. “In fact, we are expecting President Yudhoyono to visit us next year,” he said.

About the Moluccan activists, Retno said everybody has the right to keep on dreaming. “But the question is whether or not it is realistic.”

She said relations between the two countries are getting better, with both sides understanding and trusting each other.

Retno also said the close connections between the people of the two countries meant Indonesia and the Netherlands could not afford to let relations cool.

Currently, 10 percent of the Netherlands’ 17 million population has direct or indirect links to Indonesia. And every year, Retno said, thousands of Indonesians travel to the Netherlands as tourists or for business, with the Dutch doing likewise.

Aleksius said fewer and fewer people in Indonesia see the Netherlands as a former colonial power.

“I don’t think it matters much now. People are becoming pragmatic, seeking concrete benefits and looking forward instead of being bothered by the past,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Globe

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Trade, extradition and West Papua on agenda for PNG-Indonesia talks

PNG's PM Peter O'Neill

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says trade, border issues and an extradition treaty will be on the agenda for this weekend’s trip to Indonesia.

O’Neill says the trip will mark a historic deepening of bilateral relations between the neighboring countries.

He says trade will be a key focus, with a comprehensive partnership agreement covering economic links.

“We want to encourage further strengthening of the trade and investment opportunities between the two countries,” he said.

“[We want] to further develop the economic opportunities along the border area, and further strengthen the management of the border issues between the two countries.”

Border issues include people from Indonesia’s West Papua province seeking shelter in PNG, and ongoing reports of human rights abuses against pro-independence activists in West Papua.

O’Neill says PNG’s policy is that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia, but he looks forward to discussing the border issues.

“We are encouraged by the invitation by the Indonesian Government, through the president, for the first time in its history asking Papua New Guinea to help in some of those issues in West Papua,” he said.

“We have taken up that invitation and we are going to positively discuss many of those issues…with the president and the Indonesian Government officials.”

O’Neill says PNG’s cabinet has agreed on an extradition treaty with Indonesia that will be discussed during the trip.

The discussion comes in the wake of the case Indonesian citizen, Joko Chandra, who fled to PNG and was made a citizen, despite it being illegal to hold dual citizenship.

O’Neill says he and Indonesia’s president have not discussed that specific case, which will be up to the courts to rule on.

“The ministerial committee’s decision is final – Joko remains a citizen of Papua New Guinea until the courts decide whether that citizenship is valid or not,” he said

“But of course if the president and the Indonesian officials bring up the issues, now the extradition issues are now going to be assigned between the two countries, we will process any of those issues, including this particular case in accordance with that treaty.”

Peter O’Neill said many ministers will be on hand to sign agreements and more than 100 business people will also join the delegation.

Source: Islands Business

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Indonesia: Signs of new thinking on Papua

By Gary Hogan — The 21 February slaying of eight soldiers in two separate incidents by anti-government rebels in Indonesia’s troubled Papua province sent shock waves through Jakarta’s presidential palace, as well as the country’s national defence headquarters in nearby Cilangkap.

Soldiers killed in Papua

Soldiers killed in Papua

It was the largest number of military security forces killed in a single day in the restive province, which borders Papua New Guinea.

The shock was felt as far away as Canberra, since Jakarta’s adroit handling of its separatist problem in Papua is crucial to our ability to progress bilateral relations with Indonesia.

Australia’s ambassador in Jakarta was the first foreign official to extend condolences and to reaffirm Australia’s unequivocal commitment to Indonesian sovereignty over Papua. Canberra knows it would be impossible to engage Jakarta in a comprehensive strategic partnership without a mature and unfettered relationship with Indonesia’s powerful defence forces, Tentara Nasional Indonesia or TNI.

Any undisciplined retaliatory conduct by TNI elements in Papua, such as random reprisals for the eight deaths, would weigh heavily on the current upward trajectory in both our defence and broader bilateral relations. Fortunately, there is cause for optimism that, at least at the top, TNI might adopt some fresh thinking about Papua and the international ramifications of an ongoing cycle of violence.

Nobody is more aware of the potential for an arbitrary, heavy-handed overreaction by security forces in Papua to tarnish Indonesia’s international image than President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He has done a great deal in the past eight years as president to try to improve Indonesia’s global standing on human rights, investing in security sector reform and attempting to consolidate democracy and economic prosperity.

In Papua, Yudhoyono has promised a new approach based on building a stronger, fairer and more inclusive economy. His key man on the ground is retired general Bambang Darmono, a respected and experienced soldier and diplomat who played an important role in the successful Aceh peace process.

But Darmono, who the president has charged with overseeing a fast-track development plan for Papua, faces an uphill battle. Indonesia lacks a clear strategy for pacifying Papua, partly because Jakarta focuses on economics when many Papuans cry for political dialogue.

Moreover, the search for a solution is frustrated by poor coordination and an absence of imagination among government departments, factionalism and corruption in Papua itself, where vested interest is fueled by the prospect of limitless resource wealth, and a reactionary streak in some Jakarta elites, who refuse to even countenance the term ‘indigenous’ because it implies special rights.

Fallout from the 21 February shootings is still on the cards. The Free Papua Movement (OPM) is proving itself a learning organisation. Recent rebel actions demonstrate an ability to conduct reconnaissance, detect patterns, use intelligence effectively in planning and exploit poor operational security. The OPM now appears capable of moving beyond its basic hit and run tactics of the past. Incidents like the two which killed eight Indonesian soldiers last month could continue and even escalate.

In dealing with the Papua problem, Indonesia has occasionally demonstrated a disconnection between operational directions from Jakarta and tactical actions in the field. This will need to improve under TNI’s emerging leaders, and there are promising signs it might.

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia’s Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia’s Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012.

Source: The Interpreter

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Indonesia, Netherlands pledge to further ties

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa met here with visiting Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, pledging to further promote bilateral relations between the two countries.

Speaking at a news conference with his counterpart Marty, Timmermans said both sides agreed to bring the bilateral relations to a higher level, as it deserves to be.

“Indonesia is increasingly a global player with global responsibilities, my ambition is for the Netherlands to be Indonesia’s gateway to Europe,” Timmermans said, adding that his country sees Indonesia as the country’s prime partner in Asia.

Marty said the two ministers had a fruitful and productive discussion on cooperation ranging from trade, investment, infrastructure development, water management, to agriculture and city planning.

However, bilateral ties between the two countries were believed to have been turned downward in recent years triggered by the abrupt postponement of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to the Netherlands in 2010 over a human rights trial in the host country which would lead to his arrest.

Last year, Dutch Media reported the majority of parties in the Netherlands parliament opposed the deal of selling 100 Leopard battle tanks to Indonesia because of Jakarta’s poor human rights record.

When asked about these issues’ repercussion in the development of bilateral relations, Marty said the tasks for the two ministers are to be able to observe, acknowledge and to be aware of these different dynamics within the two countries, yet at the same time able to see the broad picture.

“We recognize that our two countries have special ties in the past, we must move forward and make our relationship more contemporary,” Marty said, adding that the two countries should not be taken hostage by the past development.

The Netherlands, Indonesia’s colonial master for centuries until 1945, is Indonesia’s largest foreign direct investment source and one of the most important trade partners in Europe.

The Netherlands’ direct foreign investment in Indonesia totaled 966.5 million U.S. dollars last year, accounting for 38 percent of the total investment from Europe. The trade between the two countries reached 3.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first three quarters of 2012 amid weakening European economy.

Source: Xinhua

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President concerned over continuing human rights violations

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed concern here on Monday over human rights violations that happened in horizontal or communal conflicts in the country caused by excessive euphoria in the implementation of freedom of expression.

“Human rights violations by state apparatus have dropped but they still happened during horizontal conflicts. That was because of a euphoria factor. People have exercised their rights in a wrong way,” he said at the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day at the palace.

He said freedom of expression was not without limits because there are also other rights which also must be respected.

“I hope the quality of the implementation of human rights in the country would be better and protection of human rights in our country could be stepped up,” he said.

To improve understanding about human rights the head of state said people must be encouraged to actively contribute to the development of human rights besides conducting continued education and familiarization efforts.

Minister of justice and human rights Amir Syamsuddin meanwhile said that although human rights violations still occurred their implementation in the country had been very good and people could sense it.

“I think if we are honest the Indonesian people have never enjoyed their human rights so well like now,” he said.

Source: ANTARA News

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The US seeks expanded military ties with Indonesia

A senior U.S. official says Washington should expand its military ties with Indonesia, befitting a relationship between two robust democracies.

Top diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, said those ties have grown in recent years, but not fast enough.

Campbell was speaking Tuesday (27/11) at a gathering of the U.S.-Indonesia Society in Washington.

The U.S. severed military ties for several years after of Indonesia’s bloody crackdown in East Timor in 1999. Jakarta has since sought to professionalize and modernize its military. Key U.S. restrictions on engagement with Indonesia’s feared special forces were lifted in 2010.

Human rights groups say Indonesia’s military abuse continues, particularly in the restive province of west Papua.

Campbell also advocated deeper ties between the two governments and praised Jakarta’s leadership in regional diplomacy.

Source: The Associated Press

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Indonesia qualified to answer human rights challenges: Norwegian crown prince

Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway

Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway

Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway said that Indonesia is qualified to answer human rights challenges as the country has implemented better democracy in the region.

“Some issues such as how we can work to share experience and work together to make our democratic system even stronger and how we can build relations between nations, cultures, and religions in order to enhance protection of human rights for everybody perhaps can be answered by Indonesia,” Haakon said when inaugurating the Eleventh Human Rights Dialogue between Indonesia and Norway here on Monday (26/11).

He added that Indonesia can address the issues in view of the fact that more than 300 different ethnic groups have shared one country and various religions had lived in the country in contiguity.

The Crown Prince added that Indonesia has been committed to enhancing human rights as the backbone of valuable partnership in the human rights bilateral dialogue.

“Human right is that all persons shares the same values and should be treated as equal,” he said.

According to him, some principles for enhancing bilateral cooperation between Norway and Indonesia are respect, openness and implementation which are valuable aspects for both governments.

Those, he added, can guarantee that both countries can continue to make a success and mutual cooperation to progress.

During the visit to Indonesia, Prince Haakon was accompanied by Princess Mette-Marit and a number of ministers and businessmen.

While in Jakarta, Prince Haakon will also meet with ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan and inaugurate a business forum themed `Indonesia-Norway: Strategic Partnership in Business” to be held by Innovation Norway.

He will also visit Yogyakarta to meet Sultan Hamengkubuwono X and give a general lecture at Gadjah Mada University about “Nurturing Tolerance and The Need for Dialogue”.

Source: ANTARA News

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