Daily Archives: February 22, 2012

Rallies reject Indonesian status quo in Papua, and demand referendum

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February 22, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield at WestPapuaMedia.info with local sources

Thousands of people took part in peacful rallies across West Papua on Monday, February 20,  rejecting attempts by Indonesia to impose new development policies on Papua, and demanding an internationally supervised referendum as the key step towards solving the Papua problem.

The rallies, organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), took place in Jayapura, Biak,  Manokwari, Timika, Nabire, Wamena, Yakuhimo and Merauke.  According to initial reports, all rallies remained peaceful despite standard Indonesian security force threats to forcibly break up proceedings.

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In Jayapura, a long march was held from Abepura to the offices of the Papuan People’s Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua or MRP) with the crowd of close to a thousand people shouting “we want referendum”; “Special autonomy has failed, why start it again”; and “We reject the dialogue between Jakarta and Papua and demand a Referendum”.

Mako Tabuni, on behalf of the KNPB, told the gathering that the the plans by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to impose a new body U4PB (or Program to Accelerate Development of Papua and West Papua) to implement the failed Special Autonomy package is not a solution to the problems in Papua and was thoroughly rejected by West Papuan people.  Only a Referendum would address those grievances, and it must be. held soon.  U4PB, with authority over all of Papua, is to be headed by former army intelligence chief Bambang Darmono, himself subject to numerous allegations of human rights abuses whilst stationed in Aceh.

Tabuni expanded: “when in Papua, there are two paths of narrow and wide roads. Papuan Special Autonomy the road is paved with a lot of money, including UP4B, but the road is narrow.  The road to independence is a wide open road, like the road to referendum being fought KNPB”.

Former Political Prisoners Yusak Pakage and Saul Bomay echoed the KNPB concerns and demanded that Indonesia just try to listen to the will of the people and stop trying to implement policies proven to have been a failure, like Special Autonomy.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully with a promise of escalation of mass actions.

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Presidential palace still fails to understand the situation in Papua

General SBY - Military approach will not solve Papua's problems

Bintang Papua, 19 February, 2012Manokwari: The holding of constructive dialogue or communications between Jakarta and Papua as mentioned by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) is regarded in some circles as being part of the solution to the problems occurring in Papua.In the opinion of Mervin Komber, a Papuan member of the DPR, the Indonesian Parliament, such a dialogue should take its cue from the road map for Papua, and lead to better living conditions for the  Papuan people. According to Komber, in order to achieve this, the agenda for such a dialogue should reflect the actual conditions currently confronted by the  Papuan  people.

With regard to the leaders who should be invited to participate in such a dialogue, they should be  people with the ability to deal with all aspects of the situation, including governance, parliament, customary groups, spiritual leaders as well as including people from the ranks for ordinary Papuans who enjoy the confidence of their respective groups.

‘All of us  who are in favour of dialogue must seek to achieve something positive for Papua,’ he said in Manokwari recently.

While he supports dialogue, Komber is critical of recent steps taken by SBY in his attempts to work out the best format  for the dialogue. In his opinion, the President’s decision to ask Papuan religious leaders  for their opinion  about the format and the agenda for this dialogue was a mistake. Komber believes that the religious leaders will themselves be  part of the dialogue, which means that the President should not have discussions with them about the format of the dialogue. But the President should summon provincial and local leadeers such as members of the DPRD, the DPD and academia to get their views on the format.

Moreover, if  only some elements are asked to discuss the format, he fears that this could result in misunderstandings as a result of the various inputs received by SBY. ‘If there are disagreements between some of these leaders, the people around SBY might end up passing on erroneous information about the situation in Papua,’  said Komber  who is a former activist from the Catholic students organisation, PMKRI.

The same might also occur with regard to the final objective of the dialogue, according to Felix Wanggai, a special staff member [not clear what staff this refers to] who looks forward to seeing Papua become a zone of peace. In his opinion, this may mean that the  people at the presidential palace do not properly understand  what it is that the Papuan people want. ‘The dialogue we have in mind is only intended to accelerate development in Papue,’ he said.

Jakarta has still not take any decision about when this dialogue or constructive communication should take place. According to Komber, the Jakarta-Papua dialogue is very urgent indeed and SBY should not postpone it. He went on to say that the dialogue is closely related to the implementation of special autonomy, OTSUS which was enacted eleven years ago. This means, in his opinion, that this dialogue should take place some time before the end of 2012.

‘I very much hope  that it will take place during the course of this year because OTSUS will remain in force for only another ten years, whereas the dialogue should occur while OTSUS remains in force.’

Finally he said that as far as he is concerned, the venue of the dialogue is not  a problem . The crucial thing is that the dialogue should be inspired by the determination to achieve a long term solution for Papua. ‘The dialogue could be held in ways that accord with Papuan traditions, such as those used by customary groups, sitting in their honai, or other such places,’  this young legislator said in conclusion.

[Translated by TAPOL]