By Rufinus Madai
February 28, 2013
For 13 years now government officials in Papua have been enjoying the benefits of the millions of Indonesian rupiah that has come its way thanks to the Special Autonomy package given by the Indonesian Government; and it’s undeniable that government officials at the provincial level as well as at the regency (local) level of the bureaucracy have allowed themselves to be ‘bought’ by this money.
They have allowed themselves to be bought in the way they think, at the level of their conscience and in regards to their sensitivity to the reality of what’s going on around them. As a result of their ‘selling-out’, in every instance it’s the Papuan community that ends up suffering the consequences, suffering the loss. The little people.
One can’t help wondering why in this era of Special Autonomy with all the money it brings into Papua, are we still seeing the constant suffering of the indigenous Papuan community. Why are there still the constant injustices, the mistruths, the inequalities of the legal system and the destructive conflict that’s dragging on forever? In fact one starts to ask the question whether the Special Autonomy is actually playing a role in creating that suffering.
Strange that in this ‘Special Autonomy’ era and with all the money that flows through that program, that the government bureaucrats are sucking the life from the Papuan community by selling off the resources of the land on which the people totally depend for survival, and meanwhile they stand idly by watching the endless violations of the indigenous Papuan’s human rights.
The people are repressed, treated with inhumane cruelty, objectified, detained, chased, labeled separatists and even killed. In receiving such wealth for their ‘services’ they have become like purchased puppets of the Indonesian government. Is it any wonder with these realities so obvious that the Papuan community time and again shows its distrust of the bureaucrats of the Indonesian government in Papua?
Whilst they enjoy the luxuries that millions of rupiah from Special Autonomy bring, the basic rights of the people are not even being considered and their sufferings go on and on without end. We are not referring here to one remote corner of Papua but rather this is going on throughout the entire land of Papua.
The systems, policies and laws which have been created together with the Central Government to date have not only failed to bring benefit, but in fact have brought great loss to the indigenous Papuan community. Such loss, that the community has become convinced that the laws and policies created for application in Papua are intended to repress and eventually annihilate the indigenous Papuan community from the land.
The government bureaucrats at the Papuan level are involved up to their necks! It’s as if they have become enchained to the big money Special Autonomy brings and they can’t break free. Bought by the system. No matter what they do or what decision they make under these circumstances whether regarding laws, policies or other, that will always be determined according to these ties. Their decisions and actions are not based on good conscience made to address the needs of the people. The consequence being that the little people become the victims.
Until this time there have been no positive changes whatsoever brought about by the development programs as implemented by the government in Papua. How could there be as the reality is that these programs in whatever form they may be, are not based on a recognition of the basic rights of the Papuan indigenous community!
They are not programs that help with poor education, or which address structural poverty or people’s basic human rights. The Papuan community is well aware of this and believes that programs being implemented in Papua are simply those intended to support the vision , goals and programs of the National Indonesian Government. Programs which increasingly marginalize the Papuan indigenous population, creating colonial domination, structural poverty, overpowering of the local community and ultimately leading to the death of the Papuan indigenous community.
The Papuan community is also well aware of the way the two Provincial Papuan Governments to date have been operating, acting always in ways that prioritises their own tax revenue income whilst trampling on the land of the little people. Yet at the same time taking no actions in those areas where the community needs social laws to protect the people such as regarding the abuse of alcohol and the provision of sexual services.
The Indonesian Government knows it has ‘bought’ these government officials and that they are now tied tightly to and dependent on the National Indonesian Government. Money speaks and in the same way money effectively silences voices concerning the constant human rights violations that are taking place right across the land of Papua.
However in spite of their having allowed themselves to be bought by the Indonesian government, nevertheless the Papuan community continues to hope that those Papuan Government officials referred to will turn back to the people. That in so doing that they will stop ‘selling out on’ the little people of Papua, stop dividing the land further which in so doing divides the people, stop making decisions in the interests of their own power and wealth and stop acting in ways that support the vision and programs of the National Government and extending the conflict in Papua yet further.
The Papuan community continues to hope that the Papuan Government leaders will reject Special Autonomy so that they may not be dependent and tied in such ways to Jakarta. Continues to hope that these leaders finally may have the courage to themselves assert what policies and concepts of development are needed that truly support and are able to bring about improvements in the welfare of the ordinary people.
Such that the Papuan community might determine its own future on its own land. Such that the paradigm of Papuans as being primitive, ignorant people who need others to organize them may come to an end. The little people of Papua have waited faithfully so long and yet still the tears flow without ceasing.
“May they who have ears to hear listen, may they who have eyes see, and may they who have hearts and minds consider carefully and arrive at those decisions that are right and that is acceptable to all persons.”
The Writer is a post graduate student at the Catholic Seminary in Abepura, Papua.