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Asia Pacific Report

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman has challenged the contrasting positions taken by the Indonesian government in response to calls to resolve the Papua problem and in its response to the military coup in Myanmar.

Koman said Indonesia’s position on the Myanmar coup had been very good, but not its attitude on the Papua issue.

“It’s funny, Indonesia pays no attention to international pressure to resolve the conflict in Papua, but has the courage to stand up to Myanmar, which is actually a very good move”, said Koman during a webinar held by the Milk Tea Alliance Indonesia last Sunday.

Koman said the Indonesian public could not take a position of indifference in addressing the coup in Myanmar.

This is because, according to Koman, what has happened in Myanmar could well happen in Indonesia as well.

“I think that the problem of the coup d’etat in Myanmar is a mutual problem, it doesn’t mean that with the coup in Myanmar we as Indonesians can just be ambivalent, let alone our ASEAN neighbours, so it’s very important that Indonesia stands in solidarity [with the Burmese people],” she said.

“Because, what is happening in the region is actually very influential. Don’t consider it something inconsequential, because if we look at the Arab Spring it took place [across an entire] region.

Militarism ‘can spread too’
“Revolutions can spread, so why can’t militarism [too],” said Koman.

Koman noted that the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) had stated that the military in Indonesia were becoming more of a problem because they were now taking part in guarding demonstrations by civil society.

According to Koman, the thing that actually differentiates Indonesia from Myanmar is only the coup itself.

“Actually it’s the same, just in Indonesia there hasn’t been an obvious coup d’etat, yet the military in Indonesia is already involved in civil [affairs] through regulations which allow the TNI [Indonesian military] at civil demonstrations,” said Koman.

Leaving this aside, Koman is calling on the Indonesian public to speak out in order to pressure the government to take a firmer stand on the Myanmar coup d’etat.

Koman said that this represents a moment for the people of Southeast Asia to rise up against undemocratic tendencies in the region.

“Because there is something which is known in international circles as the ASEAN way, and this has been criticised by many people, it means just staying quiet as if they support each other’s non-democracies,” she said.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Veronica Koman Singgung Sikap RI di Isu Papua dan Myanmar”.

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