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NZ aid to train community police in Papua on hold

ABC Radio Australia - May 22, 2014

The six-million dollar program was scheduled to begin in the first half of this year but Indonesia has told the New Zealand Government that it is not able to support the project at this time.

The New Zealand Green MP Catherine Delahunty says the community policing aid program would not have been helpful to the people of West Papua.

Interviewer: Brian Abbott Speaker: Catherine Delahunty, Green MP, New Zealand

Delahunty: So it was a 6.3 million dollar aid package, which was developed from a pilot that they did in West Papua which finished in 2010 and it was supposed to be taking the New Zealand model of community policing, which is very much about neighbourhoods relationships in policing private community and taking that model and training up the police force in West Papua. The Green Party strongly opposed it, because we know that this is a contaminated situation, where the New Zealand policing model was not going to help. You have a violent police force which is basically mandated by the state of Indonesia to breach human rights on a daily basis and so we thought that this was going to be a farce and a serious waste of money.

However, it wasn't the New Zealand government that decided to drop it, it was Indonesia.

Abbott: The excuse given is we have to wait to the new incoming government. Do you think the John Key government will go ahead when we have a new president of Indonesia later this year?

Delahunty: I don't think that they know what they're doing. I think that they are waiting to see what's going on in Indonesia, and basically, I think, one of the reasons that Indonesia may have gone cold on the project, is that the New Zealand government, under pressure, has conceded to us that it might be possible for journalists to scrutinise this project, which is something that the NGO's and the Green Party have been calling on consistently that if we have any aid projects overseas, such as this, if we're spending taxpayers money supposedly to help the citizens, then we want to have our journalists scrutinise it.

Now, I don't think Indonesia wants that scrutiny, so they at the moment, are saying they don't want to the project. New Zealand government shows a dreadful lack of independence in foreign affairs and probably would do whatever Indonesia said with regards to this project.

Abbott: So your fear is that this project will hone the skills of the Indonesian police, who are already reportedly hated by many of the people in West Papua?

Delahunty: I'm not sure the program would hone their skills. I think the program would whitewash their reputation, because I don't believe that most New Zealand policemen involved wanted to go or would go other there to teach them to be more violent. But I do think that the program is being used by the Indonesian government and New Zealand government, to say that that this is just a politically unstable region of Indonesia, that just needs a bit help, when in fact, it's an occupation by the Indonesian government of a country where the West Papuan citizens said it's aid that kills. And I think what they mean by that aid that kills, is that it basically does nothing to improve the behaviour of the Indonesian and Papuan military police against the citizens and it potentially whitewashes a regime that needs to be imposed.

And what they would like us to do, if we're going to give aid to the situation, they would like to see aid given for a mediation project, where New Zealand offers all Australia, who are equally recalcitrant in terms of their attitude towards the human rights of West Papuans, to do something about mediating, between the West Papuan leadership and the Indonesian government. That would be money well spent.

Abbott: Is there any program in New Zealand that could create that mediation process?

Delahunty: Well, we've got some background in this, we've got some very skilled people here who have led in the past. New Zealand was involved in mediation over Bougainville, which is a Pacific conflict where I believe we played a pretty constructive role. We have some international lawyers here who are very familiar with the Pacific situation, who are familiar with Indigenous struggles against Colonial occupation. I mean we could play a useful role. Our government has in the past played a useful role. In the Solomons, their view is that what New Zealand and Australia have done has been useful to the people, as well as the government of the day, but the West Papuans are united in their opposition on the ground, so it seems really wrong that we should try and impose a program that the Indonesian government was keen on having. Now, they've rejected if for now, but it's just an indication that we're not listening to the people who are most affected. We are talking to our trading partner, Indonesia, and we are trying to keep up a good relationship with them, not matter what the people are saying about aid that kills.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/asia-pacific/nz-aid-to-train-community-police-in-papua-on-hold/1315048