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Second uni on black list in Indonesia JAKARTA - A second Victorian university has fallen foul of the Indonesian Government over West Papuan independence, putting at risk a lucrative education market. Soon after Deakin University was effectively black-listed by Indonesia over the work of two academics, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Ministry of National Education, Nur Samsiah, said it had also cut ties with RMIT University.

The ministry claims the West Papuan flag of independence was flown on RMIT's campus after the recent granting of protection visas to 42 West Papuan asylum seekers. "Their academics, their lecturers and their campuses are used for supporting separatists," Ms Samsiah said. She said all co-operation between the ministry and the two universities was "on hold" and a proposal was being considered to suspend the accreditation of Indonesian students taking courses at either university, which would effectively stop them studying there.

A spokeswoman for RMIT said the university was perplexed by the charges from Jakarta as it did not support any political agendas. "We are not aware of a separatist flag being raised on our campus and we are concerned at definitive statements (from the Indonesian ministry) about events of which we have no knowledge," she said. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer yesterday declined to intervene in the rift.

He told Sky TV that it was up to Deakin University to deal with a letter sent to it by the Indonesian ministry freezing ties between Indonesia and Deakin over the work of Indonesia specialists Damien Kingsbury and Scott Burchill. "Universities are as they continually remind us, at arm's length from the Government, and I'm sure they'll want to remain at arm's length," Mr Downer said. "They can handle criticism and controversy and I'm sure they'll be happy to deal with that through the Indonesian embassy and with the Indonesian Government."

The national president of the National Tertiary Education Union, Carolyn Allport, said the Government should defend the universities and the academic freedom of Dr Kingsbury and Dr Burchill, whom Indonesia accuses of promoting West Papuan independence. "The Australian Government must defend these two researchers. They have an international reputation, they're considered to be very good academics," Dr Allport said.

"Clearly the Indonesian Government feels it has the right to dictate to these academics how they work. Perhaps the Indonesian Government needs to be reminded that they are not Indonesian citizens." Deakin University vice-chancellor Sally Walker said she supported Dr Burchill and Dr Kingsbury and the institution would always back the right of its academics to publish material in their areas of expertise.

"I understand that not all cultures have the same view of academic freedom. It's something in the Western tradition of universities," she said. "But that doesn't mean that we won't continue to respect it. We are absolutely committed to academic freedom." Professor Walker said she would take a cautious approach to the situation as any escalation in tension might cause difficulties for other universities. Dr Burchill and Dr Kingsbury are lecturers at Deakin's School of International and Political Studies.


Link to related event Related event:
Papua conflict

Related blog entries (category 'Politics') Related blog entries (category 'Politics'):
22 April 2006 · Australia's special envoy visits over Papua issue
18 April 2006 · Australia sends envoy to repair Indonesia ties
06 April 2006 · Papuans prepared to 'risk lives' for asylum
05 April 2006 · Yudhoyono: 'Review cooperation with Canberra'
28 March 2006 · Indonesia says 3 Papuan students possibly flee for PNG


Posted in Politics @ 09 May 2006 07:13 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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