When 43 West Papuans claimed asylum in Australia in February 2006, it marked the beginning of yet another crisis in the fragile relationship with our closest neighbour.
Anxious to allay Indonesia’s suspicions of Australian motives in the wake of East Timorese independence, the Howard government proposed reforms to policies on asylum-seekers to preclude the arrival of more boats, and loudly proclaimed its support for Indonesian territorial integrity and sovereignty — despite the fact that a great many Australians support the right of West Papuans to determine their own future.
Clinton Fernandes traces the history of West Papua from the colonial era to its incorporation and full-scale transformation under Indonesian rule, and offers a penetrating analysis of the problems posed by the rise of the West Papuan independence movement for Australia’s relations with Indonesia.
Reluctant Indonesians issues a timely, provocative, and profound challenge to the orthodox views of the foreign policy establishment and its various supporters in the media. It is essential reading for those interested in West Papua, Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, and Australian foreign policy in general.