Jennifer Robinson’s comment in the Sidney Morning Herald of 12 September, ‘Leaks reveal it’s past time to speak for West Papua’, is the classical example of the activist’s outrage of being noticed and at the same time of not being noticed by the opponent he or she is campaigning against.
Ms Robinson seems to express outrage simultaneously in her opening sentence of being “unjustifiable targeted” by the “Wikileaks Threat” list and of being left off the Indonesian watch list for what she calls ‘West Papua’, as she obviously does not refer to the province of the same name but as a territorial geographical name for the western, Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea.
She seems a bit like the ‘new feminist’ who expresses disgust at the same time about builders’ wolf whistles’ and about not being noticed by the builders around the corner.
An activist’s ‘street cred’ depends on how much he or she is being regarded as a threat and despite protestations about being on ‘watch lists’ etc to be left off appears to be worse and one could quote Shakespeare that ‘the Lady protests too much’ if her usual allegations about Papua were not so serious.
Leave alone the question of her uncorroborated allegations or whether Benny Wenda, living in exile in the UK, was a ‘political prisoner’ and can be called an ‘independence leader’, Ms Robinson falls back on what seems to have become the weapon of last resort to draw attention to a conflict or insurgency with ethnic and cultural aspects which in the activist’s eyes does not get the global attention the activist believes it deserves by calling it a ‘genocide’.
Stung by a US Embassy cable of 2006, published recently by Wikileaks, dismissing claims of genocide, gross human rights violations and environmental destruction in Papua as “dramatic and vague” she appears to want to follow the example of the US based ‘Save Darfur’ campaign proclaiming the Darfur situation a ‘genocide’ to gain more global support for the secessionist campaign in Indonesian Papua by proclaiming the situation a ‘genocide’.
Like the ‘Save Darfur’ campaign and as a lawyer Ms Robinson knows very well that the consequence of declaring a situation a genocide is the obligation on the international community, whether through the UN or not, to intervene, though the world has become quite suspicious of ‘humanitarian interventions’.
Furthermore there is the serious question whether the usage of ‘genocide’ as a hyperbole is not demeaning the victims of historical genocides such as in Europe and Asia during WWII.
It must indeed frustrating for Ms Robinson to note that her fellow Australians are just like the Brits of her new place of residence more interested in furry animals.
What a pity then for her that orang utan only inhabit Sumatra and Kalimantan and not Papua, though Ms Robinson should note that when some activists began to speak about a ‘genocide’ of orang utan they were condemned for this hyperbole and lost all credibility.