In my previous posting War of the Dogs I mentioned that West Papua should never have been, in the first place, incorporated into Indonesia. The inhabitants are Melanisians, completely different in ethnicity and culture from the Indonesian Malays.
But alas, the USA allowed its Cold War fears and, to a lesser extent, business interests to gravitate towards Sukarno's megalomaniac aspiration, forcing the Dutch to surrender its colony to Indonesia.
However, having being absorbed already into Indonesia, other countries must respect the Republic’s sovereignty over West Papua.
Australia has behaved badly in this regard. It allowed 42 West Papuans into Australia as refugees. This has serious diplomatic implications, alluding to Australia's support of a West Papuan independence movement. While that might not have been the actual case as far as the Australian government is concerned, unfortunately Indonesia sees it as such, also knowing that there are many non-government Aussie supporters of an independent West Papua.
Indonesia naturally views it as another thin wedge into its fragmenting nation, with East Timor already lost, Aceh rather iffy, an aggressive Iban nationalistic movement in Kalimantan, and Sulawesi racked by religious warfare.
Australia has also behaved with unmitigated double standards, locking out refugees from Afghanistan and the Middle East, while admitting West Papuans. This seeming inconsistency has aroused Indonesian suspicion that Australia may be up to monkey tricks. It recalls it ambassador as a sign of utmost displeasure against Australia.
John Howard is now in serious damage control, and has taken an embarrassing back flip to his earlier decision to admit the West Papuans. He now announces that any new West Papuans will be treated like other refugees and send to a holding island away from Australia, Nauru.
Australia has underestimated Indonesia’s fear of the latter’s unity. While the Republic’s motto may be Binneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity [probably borrowed from the USA’s E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One] it is made up of so many native ethnic groups that the government worries about its fragile cohesiveness and potential fragmentation.