Papuan flag incident in Australia angers Indonesia

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has urged Australia to "immediately investigate and legally process" the perpetrators behind the flying of the outlawed Papuan Morning Star flag at the Indonesian consulate in Melbourne, in the latest dispute between the countries.

The Jakarta Post newspaper reported that a Caucasian suspect had reportedly scaled a wall more than 2.5m high from an adjoining building complex on Friday afternoon, when most staff were away for prayers, and hoisted the flag, which is a symbol of the Papuan independence movement.

Another person recorded the incident from outside the gate of the consulate building, it added. The Australian authorities are looking into the matter, the report said.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry yesterday called the break-in a "criminal act that cannot be tolerated at all".

It added: "Australia has an obligation and responsibility to immediately process the law and ensure the safety of all Indonesian missions in Australia."

Ms Retno "had communicated" with her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop yesterday, and the Indonesian ambassador in Canberra is continuing the communication with the Australian authorities.

The latest incident comes days after another row in which Indonesia announced it had suspended military cooperation with Australia after offensive training materials were found at Campbell Barracks in Perth last month.

Indonesian armed forces (TNI) commander Gatot Nurmantyo, who reportedly issued the order of suspension on Dec 29, said last Thursday that the materials were "unethical" and "disparaged the TNI and Indonesians, including ideology of the Indonesian nation", Pancasila. The materials mentioned Indonesian province West Papua needing to become independent and spelt Pancasila as Pancagila. "Gila" means crazy in Indonesian.

President Joko Widodo said late last week that relations between the two neighbours "remain good" and asked General Gatot and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu to resolve the issue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'Papuan flag incident in Australia angers Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe