NZ Greens 1, Jakarta Post 0

So last week the Jakarta Post ran this story:

Separatist protest mars Susilo visit to NZ

Rendi A.Witular, The Jakarta Post, Wellington

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono began his two-day visit on Wednesday to New Zealand aimed at boosting trade and regional security, amid two separatist protests against Indonesia that marred his arrival.

During their talks, Susilo and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to improve bilateral cooperation in economic issues, trade and combating transnational crimes.

“The meeting with the President was very constructive, with a number of outcomes. We would like to focus our relationship more on economic and trade issues as well as on transnational crimes,” Clark told a joint news conference with Susilo.

In the economic sector, Clark said New Zealand and Indonesia agreed to seriously follow up the existing joint Trade and Economic Commission to formulate effective and practical ways to boost trade activities.

Although geographically Indonesia is located near New Zealand, trade and economic activities between the countries were fairly insignificant, with Indonesia ranked only 16th in last year’s list of New Zealand’s largest partners — even smaller than Malaysia, which ranked 12th.

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirajuda said the commission was scheduled to meet in November to lay the ground for more serious trade and economic talks.

The two countries are also willing to initiate direct flights to help support the mobility of businesspeople and tourists.

They signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at preventing people-smuggling and trafficking. The MOU includes a plan to step up cooperation between the Indonesian and Zealand police forces.

A joint declaration to fight terrorism and improve interfaith dialog was also signed.

In the field of education, New Zealand pledged to boost its scholarships for Indonesians to study in the country.

Susilo meanwhile expressed his disappointment to Clark over two separatist protests in Wellington, which marred the first day of his visit.

“Clark apologized, but said she could not ban freedom of expression,” Minister Hassan said after the Indonesian and Zealand leaders’ meeting.

As Susilo walked into parliament upon his arrival in Wellington, two Green Party lawmakers waved flags urging independence for Papua and Aceh province, where separatist rebels have long been fighting for a separate state.

The flags, waved by the two protesters — Green Party co-leader Rod Donald and rastafarian MP Nandor Tanczos, were of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Free Papua Organization (OPM).

The lawmakers also called for the prosecution of Indonesian Military personnel involved in gross human rights abuses in the two provinces and East Timor before the latter voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999.

“We are pleased that the New Zealand government won’t be reinstating a military cooperation and free trade agreement with Indonesia until the violator of human rights is brought to justice, and Aceh and Papua become independent,” said Donald. The issue of military ties with New Zealand was not discussed during Susilo’s visit.

New Zealand police officers briefly spoke to the lawmakers but refrained from taking action to end their peaceful protest.

In response, Hassan said Indonesia understood the New Zealand government’s stance since both New Zealand and Indonesia were democracies.

In the joint media conference with Susilo, Clark reiterated her government’s support for Indonesia’s integrity and said special autonomy granted to Aceh and Papua was the best solution to address the separatist problem.

A similar demonstration also erupted involving dozens of people, during a state dinner hosted by the parliament in honor of Susilo. Protesters carried banners with anti-Indonesia slogans.

At the same place however, dozens of Indonesians living in Wellington as well as locals staged a rival protest in support of the integration of Aceh and Papua with Indonesia.

While the pro-separatist supporters cursed Susilo, the pro-integration protesters sang the Indonesian national anthem and other songs.

A student who joined the pro-Indonesia protest accused the Green Party of paying demonstrators to protest against Susilo.

“I know they were paid because one of my college friends told me that the Green Party gave him NZ$30 to join the protest,” argued the Indonesian student.

And this weekend they ran this:

Payment for protest claim an outrageous lie

National News – April 09, 2005

JAKARTA (JP): Claims reported in The Jakarta Post that the New Zealand Green Party paid protesters to rally outside New Zealand’s Parliament are an outrageous lie, the party’s Co-Leader Rod Donald says.

The article, run on the Post’s website on Thursday, reported that an Indonesian student in New Zealand claimed the Green Party had paid his college friend NZ$30 to join a protest in support of the independence of Aceh and West Papua.

“The Green Party certainly did not pay people to engage in a protest about the Indonesian Government’s treatment of people in Aceh and West Papua,” Donald said.

“While in Indonesia it may be common practice for protesters to be paid, in New Zealand this is unheard of. In New Zealand people protest over things they believe in, not for financial gain.

“With and election coming up the Green Party is saving its limited funds for the campaign,” Donald said. (**)

Note: We apologize to the Green Party of New Zealand for failing to present their viewpoint in regards to accusations made by a Green Party protester during a visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Wellington. — Editor

I understand there was quite a lot of terse phone calls between a certain Parliamentary office and a certain Indonesian newspaper on Friday…

He he!


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