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Issues: ‘How to deliver peace in troubled Papua’

The Jakarta Post | Opinion | Mon, March 08 2010, 10:54 AM

Tribal war film: Papuans perform a ritual in a tribal war scene for the film Nyanyian Lembah Baliem (The song of Baliem Valley). in this file photo taken in Wamena, Papua, on Feb 24. JP/NETTY DHARMA SOMBA
March 1, p. 6

A series of threats and violence in the mining area of PT Freeport Indonesia is unlikely to cease despite the death of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) leader Kelly Kwalik, who was believed to be behind the terror in Papua. The Jan. 24 shooting was the 4th shooting incident in the last seven months, causing an increase in the security and military measures of the mining company.
Freeport and the Indonesian government have a long and complex history not only with the separatist group, but with the local community. Social disparities, the unequal spread of wealth, historical concerns and allegations of “stealing” Papua’s natural resources are at the root of the conflict. Despite the efforts of both parties to overcome this problem, Papua remains a problematic issue in Indonesia’s politics.  (By P.M. Erza Killian, Malang)

Your comments:
I regularly see and hear Jakarta-based leaders appealing for recognition that Papua is a part of the unitary state of RI. The attitude that flows from that is very much flavored by the Soeharto era — Soeharto led the invasion of Papua so he always had a sense of “conquest” to maintain, a sense of great achievement, something that is not shared by Papuans.
To that end, the attitude that has controlled Jakarta has been one of Papua being a possession, indeed a colonial possession; what we can extract from Papua rather than what can we do to help the Papuans. They can hardly comprehend that in respect to Papua they could be perceived as a neo-colonial power, but in reality the relationship with Papua has many of the hallmarks of colony and colonizer.
The relations between Jakarta and Papuans would improve significantly if Jakarta were to pause for a moment and reflect on how Papuans view the world. First Papuans were, like the rest of Indonesia, subject to Dutch colonization. Two other European colonizers, Germany and Britain, later shared up the balance of the island.
The Dutch were in the process of establishing Papua as an independent nation when in 1962 Soeharto led a military invasion of Papua. From a typical Papuan perspective they simply swapped one external invader/colonizer for another.
Papuans look across the border to their brothers and sisters in
what were once two other European colonies and now see a fully independent Papua New Guinea where the traditional owners truly own their own land, their own government and a booming economy, their economy.
It should be no wonder to Jakarta that Papuans feel they lost something and could have had the same freedom to make their own decisions as their brothers and sisters in the adjoining ex-colony achieved. But for Papuans they still see (colonial) strings strongly connected to and controlled by a “foreign power” headquartered in Jakarta.
Nairdah
Sydney
 
I witnessed these things myself when I was in Timika between 2003 and 2005, especially the Amungme, who consist of seven different tribes plus the Kamoro. I witnessed how these peoples struggle in their daily life as if there is no future for them, as if the 20th century never arrived. I also witnessed how their resources have been taken away from their land and how almost nothing has been returned.
The road to the new port was under construction that year and I wonder if it is completed today, so the only road that was available was the road to Pomako, and within the town itself plus the road to Kuala Kencana, I walked to Enarotali with the locals for two whole weeks and witnessed how these people really live life in the stone age.
A.J. Firdaus
Singapore

I really agree with Killian’s idea of recognition as well as how Chauvel discusses “Papua Nationalism”. If the government and Indonesian society really believe that West Papuan is part of Indonesia, they should do something that recognizes the dignity of West Papuans and also acknowledges past wrongdoings.
What people need is the truth revealed without any risk of being tortured or killed. The government and Indonesian society should accept West Papuans as one entity with their land; one package, if I can say.
Dayanara Meimosaki
Australia

I do agree with P.M. Erza Killian that what the people of Papua
need is recognition “as a different identity, a different culture and an equal partner within Indonesia”. But, as a matter of fact, what Papuans have experienced so far is “killing” in all aspects of life. Here are some examples.
First, up to now more than 100,000 people including Theys Hiyo Eluay and Kelly Kwalik have been killed for expressing their different political views and protest against human rights violations.
This happened because the legal principle of the presumption
of innocence does not have space for Papuans in the Indonesian legal system.
Second, the banning of books written by Papuan authors — Sendius Wonda, Socrates Yoman, Semuin Karoba and others — is another exercise in killing the thoughts of the Papuans in expressing what they feel, see and experience through their writing. Papuans writers have no space to express themselves in Indonesian literature.
Third, the closed-door policy for the international visitors to come to Papua is another exercise in killing the promotion of Papuan culture to the outside world. Papua is a land of paradise with its beautiful nature and its own unique culture, but it is intentionally hidden from the eyes of the world.
Fourth, an unequal balance of profits gained from the abundance of natural resources (oil in Sorong, gold and copper in Timika, gas in Bintuni, forests throughout Papua, fish and shrimp in Sorong and southern part of Papua) is another exercise in killing Papuans through lack of funding for the health sector.
Fifth, no apology from the government for the Papuans who were tortured, killed, raped in the past is another exercise in killing the sense of belonging to Indonesia.
So, I think the government should change its course of action. It is no longer an era of killing Papuans but hugging them with love, respect and recognition.
If this 3-in-1 formula is taken into consideration by the government I truly believe something will change in Papua.
However, all Papuans have a dream that one day Indonesian authorities and Papuan leaders will sit together around a table to solve the conflict in Papua. May the dream of having a dialogue come true as a way of delivering peace in Papua!
Izak Morin
Jayapura

So far, Indonesian presidencies have been dominated by the Javanese and Muslims. I imagine it will be more exciting if there is ever an indigenous Papuan as president.
This is the time when every child of Indonesia, no matter where they come from or what identity they have, can become a leader.
Gede Widia Pratama Adhyaksa
Bandung

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