The killing of Kelly Kwalik

There are at least two issues combined in The killing of Kelly Kwalik. One is about the allegations of misconduct done by police when they shot Mr. Kwalik. The other one is about the tacit issue of demanding separatism conducted by certain groups in Papua through armed conflict.

I would only like to touch upon the latter’s issue. Taking into account the diversity of national unity notion, one should settle it through peaceful and democratic ways. Insisting separatism through armed conflict is not the way that can be justified by any democratic countries. The efforts of Indonesia, a nascent democratic country, to maintain its territorial integrity are neither unique nor special. There were “lessons learned and best practices” shown by earlier democratic countries such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (a.k.a the UK) as well as the US.

Unsurprisingly, now there is no any attempt to question or censure the way how those countries acquired new territories, be it through revolution, war, invasion, acquisition, conquest, invasion or whatsoever. Like it or not, democratic countries, which have sufficiently shown there are no discrimination to their citizens on the basis of race, color or creed, have advantages to get support in maintaining their territorial integrity.

Legal arguments also go to their side. The US Supreme Court in “Texas v. White” (1869) argued that the US constitution did not permit states to secede from the US, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effects such ordinances were absolutely null. However, the Court recognized there are some possibilities of secession through revolution or through the consent of the central government.

The Canadian Supreme Court in “Quebec” in 1998 argued that the scope of self determination was normally fulfilled through internal self determination (like granting a special autonomy) – a people’s pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural development within the framework of an existing state than invoking external self determination (secession). The right to external self-determination could be invoked only in the most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances.

In order to expel the possibility of secession in Northern Ireland from the UK, the European Court on Human Rights in the case of “Ireland v. the United Kingdom” in 1978 argued that in the situation of public emergency, the state, such as the UK, is entitled to derogate some rights of human rights. Those examples which were shown imply that, through all legal means, Indonesian Government also has an inalienable right to maintain its territorial integrity.

It would be more beneficial for the world community and those who support the human rights protection in Papua to agree on this basic tenet and not give a confusing signal by saying that the situation in Papua is always the same as happened in the past times such as in 1950s and 1960s. In parallel direction afterwards then we could demand the authorities to investigate if there is any possible misconduct done by certain individuals.

Letter from Krido in Jakarta

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