Indonesian and Australian Relations. By Bec and Grace. History of Indonesian-Australian Relations. Colonisation - World War II.
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Indonesia was colonised by Holland in the seventeenth century, and at the time was called the Dutch East Indies. In the second World War, Japan invaded and occupied Indonesia, during which a nationalist movement grew. The Japanese surrended on the 15th August 1945 and two days later, the nationalist leader Sukarno, proclaimed the independence of Indonesia. Australia officially recognised the Republic on 9July 1947, but only the regions of Java, Sumatra and Madura.
The civil unrest and armed struggle that occurred from 1945 to 1949 – the Indonesian National Revolution – came to an end after the Netherands recognised Indonesia’s independence in 1949. The UN established a committee to bring about this ceasefire, and Indonesia nominated Australia to sit on this committee.
The Menzies government in Australia were wary of Indonesia in the period following their independence due to the prominence of the Indonesian Communist Party, the largest non-ruling communist party in the world at that time. An attempted coup on the government on 30 September 1965 brutally repressed them, effectively eliminating the Indonesian Communist Party.
The relations between Australia and Indonesia were damaged to a degree when Australia provided warfare aid to Malaysia in its war against Indonesia from 1964-1966. Australia would frequently send troops across the border at Sarawak into Indonesian territory, and twenty-two Australian servicemen were killed during the Konfrontasi, seven of them on operations.
In March 1967, the President Sukarno was overthrown by Suharto, whose 32 year reign was defined by his anti-communist stance. This meant that relations between Australia and Indonesia improved because of this common ideology.
In 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor, claiming that the main East Timor political party was communist and Australia supported Indonesia’s actions, fearing a Communist domino effect. However the Australian public were not completely in favor of the the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, partially due to the deaths of five Australian journalists on 16th October 1975 in East Timor, referred to as the Balibo five. In an inquest into the deaths of these journalists, it was found that, “The Balibo Five were shot and or stabbed deliberately, and not in the heat of battle, in order to silence them from exposing Indonesia's 1975 East Timor invasion.”
Australian-Indonesian relations worsened after East Timor declared independence. On 30th August 1999, a UN organised referendum in East Timor saw a majority of citizens choose independence from Indonesia. The Australian-led INTERFET peace-keeping force was dispatched to restore order in East Timor.
September 29 2005-Australia and Indonesia have strengthened commercial ties through a Trade and Investment Framework (TIF) signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile and Indonesian Trade Minister, Dr Mari Pangestu.
The TIF will strengthen commercial ties by enhancing business opportunities and improving facilitation of trade in goods, services and investment.
Building closer linkages in a range of sectors including, textiles, clothing and footwear, health, education and legal services, food and agricultural processing, energy and mining, and infrastructure development.
Promoting Indonesia and Australia as attractive investment destinations.
Identifying opportunities for promoting investment opportunities in each others' and third markets.
The Republic of Indonesia is one of Australia's main trading partners. Indonesia is a significant destination for Australian exports of wheat, cotton, specialised machinery, civil engineering equipment, other manufactures of base metal, crude petroleum, aluminium and zinc. On the other hand Indonesia is an important source for Australian imports of crude petroleum, textile yarn, paper and paper board, paper manufactures, furniture and footwear.
The Lombok Treaty (Agreement Between the Republic of Indonesia and Australia on the Framework for Security Cooperation) was originally put forward in the eighth Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum (AIMF), held in Bali on 29 June 2006 and was signed by the Foreign Ministers in Lombok on 13 November 2006. On 7th February 2008, the Foreign Ministers Stephen Smith and Dr Hassan Wirajuda ratified the treaty, bringing it into force.
The 2002 Bali bombings occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people, (including 88 Australians, and 38 Indonesian citizens). The attack involved the detonation of three bombs:
a large car bomb
smaller device detonated outside the United States consulate in Denpasar, causing only minor damage.
The bombings has had a significant effect on Indonesian tourism with Australian tourist arrivals down 57% as a direct result and a high risk at airports
At 7:50 am, July 17th 2009, the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia, were hit by two separate bombs from suicide bombers, that killed 3 Australians. The Marriott bombing occurred first and was followed five minutes later by the Ritz bombing. A part of the facade of the Ritz Carlton was blown away by the blast and windows had been blown out.
Currently Indonesia is on Australia's “consider need to travel” category in airports , the second highest ranking.
On December 26 2004, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake occurred, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters.
In January 2005, shortly after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Australian Prime Minister and Indonesian President announced a five-year $1b Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development - the single largest aid package in Australian history. Under the Partnership, Australia will provide extensive assistance for reconstruction and development in Aceh and throughout Indonesia.
The Bali Nine is the name given to a group of nine people arrested on 17 April 2005, in Denpasar on the island of Bali, Indonesia, in a plan to smuggle 8.3 kg (18 lb) of heroin valued at approximately 4 million Australian from Indonesia to Australia. They are Andrew Chan, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Myuran Sukumaran.
Si Yi Chen, Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen and Mathew Norman-Sentenced to life imprisonment on 15 February 2006. Sentence reduced to 20 years upon appeal. On prosecutors appeal, Supreme Court imposes the death penalty. On appeal, Supreme Court reduces sentence to life in prison (confirmation pending)
Michael Czugaj- Sentenced to life imprisonment on 14 February 2006. Sentence reduced to 20 years upon appeal. On appeal, Supreme Court reinstates life sentence.
Martin Stephens-Sentenced to life imprisonment on 14 February 2006. Sentence upheld upon appeal. On appeal, Supreme Court upheld life sentence.
Renae Lawrence- Sentenced to life imprisonment on 13 February 2006. Sentence reduced to 20 years upon appeal. Four-month remission on 2008 Indonesian Independence Day.
Scott Rush-Sentenced to life imprisonment on 13 February 2006. On prosecutors appeal, Supreme Court imposes the death penalty.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan (ring leaders)- Sentenced to death on 14 February 2006. Sentence upheld upon appeal.
Rush, the only one of six courier's with a death sentence, and the two ring leaders Sukumaran and Chan are proceeding with appeals to challenge their death penalties. If their final appeals fail, the three men will be left with just one last chance to avoid the firing squad: clemency from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, however the president typically shows no mercy to drug smugglers.
The five remaining, excluding Lawrence are serving life sentences and also planning fresh appeals.
Parents of defendants Scott Rush and Renae Lawrence criticised the Australian Federal Police for allowing the Indonesian police to arrest the nine , although being aware of the severe death penalty sentence for drug smugglers. The AFP was alerted to the plan before the smugglers boarded the plane, however they only informed the Indonesian police. At the time, there was a treaty between Indonesia and Australia, where both countries could refuse to cooperate in a police investigation if the crime under investigation carries the death penalty.
“The policy is that we will not give evidence that will, or information that will, directly cause or result in somebody receiving the death penalty. But the reality is in this case, it would appear, on the allegations, that these people have been caught red-handed with heroin in Indonesia” -FormerAFP Commissioner Mick Keelty
The Indonesians felt pressured by the Australian government and the media, with high ranking Australian official's publically condemning the death penalty. This could lead to tension between the two country's.
While travelling through an Indonesian airport on her way to surf in Bali, Shapelle Corby was caught with 4.1kg of marijuana in her body-board bag. The Corby case generated intense controversy in Australia, and at times was expressed publicly with a perceived anti-Indonesian bias, causing tension in Australia's relationship with Indonesia.
During her trial, Corby wrote a pleading letter to the PM John Howard saying in part, "as a father and as a leader, I plead for your help. I did not do this. I beg for justice. I don't know how much longer I can do this. Please bring me home.”
Former PM Kevin Rudd appealed directly to the Indonesian president on behalf of Shapelle for a 'new prisoner transfer deal' to get Corby home. PM Julia Gillard has also supported the claim for clemency, with Corby pleading for a presidential clemency claiming depression that could endanger her live and insanity. The Indonesian supreme Court has also recommended that Corby's sentence be significantly reduced.
A recent Sunday Age/Nielsen poll has found that 66 per cent believe Corby should return to Australia to serve her sentence. however just one in 10 respondents in the Nielsen poll taken last week believed she was innocent.