Kamis, 03 November 2011

Papua-Indonesia peaceful dialogue needs a neutral mediator

Socratez Sofyan Yoman, The Jakarta Post
We have followed the latest developments in Papua through various media reports as well as direct observation, in which violence and crimes against humanity were committed by the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police (Polri), Free Papua Organization (OPM) rebels and their fostered groups, as well as unidentified gunmen.

The different comments and views so far voiced have indicated that the separatist movement in the resource-rich province is a result of a lack of attention to public welfare, the need for adequate infrastructure, an indifferent attitude among Papuan officials, shortage of skilled human resources among indigenous Papuans, poverty among the Papuan people, the absence of a clear Papua development concept, and the Rp 28 trillion (US$3.13 billion) special autonomy funding that has gone to only a handful of people.


When Papuan people offered a peaceful, honest and dignified dialogue on an equal footing with the central government, the authorities responded by sending large security forces to Papua. Government officials continued to make intimidating statements that hurt the conscience of the Papuans and marred the value of justice and equality as fellow citizens.

The authorities have always maintained that Papua’s integration into Indonesia, the history of integration and the 1969 Act of Free Choice are final for the sake of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

Therefore, the Indonesian authorities have failed to integrate Papuan people under the national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity. They have only managed to integrate the economy and region politically by means of the TNI and Polri as well as various laws and regulations that do not take the side of the indigenous Papuans.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has failed to keep or been slow in keeping his promise he made in his state address of Aug. 16, 2006, to settle the Papuan issue by peaceful dialogue. The President’s latest pledge in his Aug. 16, 2011 state address was to resolve the Papuan problem with heart. The Papuans are waiting for such a peaceful dialogue and settlement with heart pledged by the government.

As a manifestation of his spirit, SBY has named a special envoy, Dr. Farid Hussein, to initiate an approach and preliminary communication with people of various levels in Papua. Farid has a big and heavy, yet noble, task, which is to start sowing the seeds of compassion, justice, sincerity and equality.

He will be meeting with OPM, political groups, communal leaders, Papuan community figures in Papua and abroad such as Rex Rumakiek, Otto Ondowame, Benny Wenda, Otto Mote, and hundreds, even thousands of Papuans overseas.
Church leaders will cooperate with Dr. Farid in attending the peaceful dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan people. But sadly, SBY’s attempts have been tarnished by the dispatch of more TNI and Polri to Papua and the guarding of natural resources in Papua, with the Papuans’ stigmatized by separatism, OPM and treason.

Papuan people can understand the position of Indonesians toward the upheaval and problem in Papua. Indonesian people in general do not yet correctly and accurately fathom the Papuan issue. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that most Indonesians have always described Papuan popular resistance as opposing Indonesia.

Indonesians in general have no idea of the history, culture and background of indigenous Papuans. The Papuans belong to the Melanesian group, far different from the Malay majority of the Indonesian population. The ignorance of the Malays (Indonesians) about the Melanesians (Papuans) is natural because non-Papuan people have never received lessons about indigenous Papuans’ history and existence.

Conversely, the history and existence of non-Papuan cultures are taught by force in Papuan schools and colleges.
The Indonesian government, the TNI, Polri and Indonesians in general are mistaken in judging the indigenous people of Papua. The Papuans are not primitive people without culture and civilization.

The native Papuans are those who have through generations maintained their history, culture, value system and way of life. The Papuans are free individuals who have lived in and occupied their ancestral land in peace and justice, since a time before the arrival of missionaries, the Dutch and Indonesians.

The problem posed by the indigenous Papuans for four decades from 1961 to 2011 is the political rights of the people of Papua who have been misled by the United Nations, the US, the Netherlands and Indonesia.

The integration of Papua into Indonesia was made and signed without involving the indigenous population of Papua.
The failure in implementing Law No. 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for Papua, marginalization of indigenous Papuans, exploitation of the province’s natural resources, devastation of forests and occupation of people’s land for transmigration settlements, oil palm estates, illegal logging with TNI and Polri backing, and the economic domination by migrants constitute a very complex root of the Papuan problem. The Papuans have concluded that Indonesia has failed in developing the people of Papua.

Government officials, the TNI and Polri and even most Indonesians have always been worried about internationalization of the Papuan issue. This is a mistaken belief because the Papuan problem has assumed an international dimension from the start.

The conclusion of the New York Agreement of Aug. 15, 1962 with American mediation, which led to Papua’s integration into Indonesia, was an involvement of the international community.

It should not be overlooked that the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) has also had a major role in lobbying and campaigning on the Papuan issue overseas.

A gap is yet to be bridged. The Indonesian government’s understanding of the history of Papua’s integration is very much different from that understood by the people of Papua.

The core of the Papuan issue is in fact the history of Papuan integration into Indonesia. Thus, the settlement of the Papuan problem cannot be applied through force and security, legislation and public welfare.

A settlement with dignity and humanity should be made in a peaceful, unconditional dialogue mediated by a neutral third party.
A neutral third party should be involved because such third parties as the United Nations, the US and the Netherlands directly concerned with the inclusion of Papua into Indonesia should also be part of the construction of this peaceful dialogue.
The writer is chairman of the Papuan Baptist Church Alliance. His latest book, West Papua: International Matter, is scheduled to be launched on Nov. 3.

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