Bobii: The Creation of New Regions in Papua – A Blessing or Disaster?


By Selpius Bobii (inside Abepura State Prison)

17 September 2013

 The relatively recent accelerated formation of new provinces, kabupaten (regencies), cities, districts and villages in the land of Papua is causing new areas to spread like a mould, appearing in every direction in Papua. The Indonesian Government’s most recent plan is to create five new provinces in Papua which together with the two existing ones will mean a total of seven provinces in the land of Papua. In order to meet its own requirements for the formation of these planned five new provinces, the government is busy at this time accelerating at a rapid rate the formation of other lower level divisions so as to satisfy their own criteria for creating new provinces. Indonesia claims their reasons for this push are totally associated with welfare of Papuans, but what is the real truth behind why they rapidly opening up so many new regions by dividing others? What is the real reason they want to split Papua into seven provinces and all the endless divisions they are creating within that? The following article takes an inside look at what is really going on in Papua.

Ideally the primary reason for such divisions should be to reduce the extent of the area that must be reached in order to provide government services to any one community. There may be also other lesser reasons also taken into account regarding history, culture, economic factors and perceived fairness. The legislative and executive bodies of the government have the authority to form new regions and it is also their responsibility to have carried out proper research into what is appropriate. In particular there are a number of extremely important criteria that are supposed to be met in the process of approving the formation of a new region. However the reality is that many of the new regions created throughout Indonesia have not in fact fulfilled those conditions. The Centre for Regional Autonomy Studies in Indonesia concluded that the majority of new regions being created throughout Indonesia are in fact nothing more than decisions based on mere emotions and not on rational reasoning[1].

When it comes to the matter of the greatly accelerated opening of new regions in Papua – that are at present mushrooming at a rapid rate – the question begs are they decisions based on proper research of what is suitable or is some other hidden agenda of the Indonesian Government behind that.  Based on observation and study of the matter by the Writer until this time, it’s clearly evident that decisions for the creation of new regions in the land of Papua are loaded with political, security and economic interests of Indonesia and its allies[2].

In looking at the unceasing divisions into new areas in Papua one needs to keep in mind the political ideological conflict that exists between the state of Indonesia and the nation of Papua[3]. Indonesia’s aim is to seize the economic opportunity for as long as possible whilst at the same time working to destroy the wholeness of Papua in a systematic, planned and measurable way. It is only when approached within this framework that we can start to understand the real reasons behind the rapid expansion of new areas in Papua. In the following paragraphs we look at some of the real impacts of these endless dvisions of the land in Papua.

First and foremost the practice of dividing the land into many new regions is providing an open door for Indonesia and its allies to destroy the natural order of the oneness of the creation (both natural resources and the broader environment). The oneness of plants and animals of both land and waters. The destruction is resulting from a number of factors but primarily the effects of multinational companies (mining of minerals, oil and gas), logging companies (legal and illegal), and burning and felling of the forests for other reasons including the development of local district / kabupaten (administrative offices etc), plantations, transmigrants and large-scale farming.

The continual divisions of the land are also creating structural poverty amongst indigenous Papuans.  By destroying the natural order and arrangement of the natural environment the indigenous people of Papua are lose their very source of livelihood. With the lands of their ancestors taken from them or destroyed, the people experience hunger and / or struggle for survival, which on a wider scale leads to annihilation of the race.

With the creation of new regions, doors are opened for transmigrants from outside of Papua to move into the area.  The usual practice has been that the government forces Papuans off an area of land with the ‘help’ of the military and police, then builds new housing areas for transmigrants. When newcomers arrive and are given a house, the right of ownership of the land then is lost forever to the indigenous Papuans as has passed to the government or transmigrant.  In recent times both the government and migrants have started buying the land from those who have the traditional customary rights to that site, although it is widely known that at times where the person with the traditional customary right has not agreed to surrender their right to the land in return for money, that they have been ‘escorted’ to a certain place and persuaded by military or police to do so.

Furthermore, the creation of new divisions allows Indonesia to engender discrimination and marginalisation against indigenous Papuans. As the centres of economics in the new locations are usually controlled by the newly arrived transmigrants[4], so with the loss of their lands and natural resources together with the effects of monopolies over local economics by newcomers, Papuans as a result experience severe marginalisation and discrimination in the very lands of their ancestors.[5]

 With each new division is opened the way for the development of new divisions of the military and police in that location.  New divisions of Regional Military Commands (Kodam), Military Command Posts (Korem), District Military Commands (Kodim), Provincial level Police (Polda), District Level Police Command Posts (Polres), Sub-District Police Command Posts (Polsek) and then the many posts of both the military and police. The impact of this ever increasing ‘security’ apparatus that is obvious every way one looks in Papua, is literally threatening the very right to life of indigenous Papuans. Particularly that of Papuan Freedom activists who struggle for the most basic rights of Papuans.

 With the creation of endless new regions there is also seen a proliferation of social sicknesses, diseases and the spread of epidemics that have entered from outside Papua.  By way of example, the number of ‘officially approved’ brothels as well as those not officially approved, that have been established in these newly created regions, all of which receive protection from the government due to the taxes and fees they generate. The government doesn’t open its eyes to the terrible impact that this is having on the local people in undermining their social morality plus with the lack of proper controls in place the spread of diseases including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.  The result as the Indonesian government data now shows, is that Papua has now the second highest number of HIV / AIDS cases in Indonesia after Jakarta.

The creation of new regions also acts like a bridge for Islamisation. There are now whole village areas that were previously Christian who have now converted to Islam and what was a primarily Christian population is now becoming a minority.  People have been influenced by ‘hardliners’ in the Muslim faith by a variety of cheap offers to attract them and it has frequently occurred that the door into the area for Islam has been through ways opened with the government’s creation of new divisions. By no means is it my meaning in saying this, to try and prevent Papuans who are Christians from becoming Muslims as it is the human right of every human being to choose their own religious beliefs; however the methods that have been used until the present time to  cause Papuans to covert to Islam by luring them with a range of cheap offers and promises that are blatant lies, are far from praiseworthy. The extent of constructions of Islamic mosques in new regions in Papua is mushrooming at such a rapid rate that it is clearly pointing to the real possibility that Papua may at some time become a central area for Muslims in especially the eastern part of Indonesia.  This presents a most serious threat to the continued existence of the Christian indigenous community in the land of Papua.

 The creation of each new land division within Papua gives rise to organisations that are focused only on that region’s needs and from this is growing a destructive egocentric and clan-centric attitude amongst Papuans.  Manipulation of clan-centric tendencies against the people was actually a method used previously during the Dutch Regime to deal with the Indonesian liberation movement. Since then it has been used as a primary method of ‘divide and rule’ used by Indonesia against Papuans.  The cumulative effect of all these negative impacts combined with other covert and overt means is a slow-moving but certain genocide against the ethnic Papuan race.

 The creation of new divisions in the land of Papua is not the solution to bringing an end to the problems in Papua and in fact is an act that threatens the very existence and continuation of life of ethnic Papuans. Accordingly all parties involved, including the Indonesian Central Government, Provincial Governments, certain organizations, certain key figures of religious institutions and certain traditional customary bodies of Papua and strongly urged to immediately cease creating new regions in Papua, whether provinces, regencies, wider city areas, districts or village level divisions. Whilst regarding other nations of the world and the United Nations together with the international community, it hoped that they will not allow themselves to be manipulated by the propaganda and provocation of the Indonesian Government in relation to the latter’s plans to create new divisions in Papua. As the hidden agenda behind those divisions is absolutely to destroy the oneness of the creation and in so doing to bring suffering and annihilation of the ethnic Papuan race.

 It is strongly recommended that there be held dignified non-conditional consultations / dialogue between the Republic of Indonesia and the nation of Papua facilitated by a neutral party and held in a neutral location. Let’s unite and step together to make these consultations/dialogue become a reality as a means to finding a dignified solution to the problems.

[1] The results of research by the Centre for Regional Autonomy Studies led by Dr Nurjayadi Pribadi and Associates showed that:

i)  The reasons for the creation of new regions in Indonesia are based on emotion and not on rational matters.

ii) The implications of the creation of new regions is an increased financial burden on the state.

iii) The criteria applied in making the new divisions relate to Regulation No 29 (2000) however the reality is that those regions never show the progress that was stated in the proposals for their formation


[2] The political and security interests of Indonesia are closely related to the political ideological conflict between the state of Indonesia and nation of Papua (west). That conflict can be referred to as the conflict between those adherents of the Indonesian Pancasila ideology and those of the Papuan Mambruk ideology.

[3] A conflict that has been intentionally prolonged by Indonesia and its allies so as to be able to ‘justify’ Indonesia’s actions in Papua whilst at the same time continuing to use the land of Papua like some type of ‘farm’ or ‘kitchen’ to provide for the rest of the world.

[4] Most of whom migrate from areas of Bugis from southern Sulawesi, from Buton - an island off the southeast peninsula of Sulawesi - from Macassar, Java and the island of Madura.
 [5] The division of lands into new areas also creates a type of dependency for the local Papuan community. With Papuans having lost their lands and newcomers controlling the local economics, the Papuan cultural ethic of working hard is undermined as the majority of civilians feel empowered and just wait in hope for assistance from the government such as rice for the poor or other assistance. However in providing such aid the government is not empowering the local community but rather disempowering both the individual and the potential of that particular region.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA &  Papuan Freedom Political Detainee held in Abepura Prison, Jayapura


2 thoughts on “Bobii: The Creation of New Regions in Papua – A Blessing or Disaster?

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  1. The ideology of Indonesia and its Militarised government is increasingly being forced upon the traditional owners of Papua at the peril of its indigenous people.
    The means employed by the SBY government will further action the genocide of Papua’s native population by its many massacres, tortures and false testimonies.
    That the Western World sits upon its hands and aims a blind eye to the magnitudes of injustice coupled with intolerance that goes against the United nations ideals for human rights is in itself a betrayal upon all humanity.

    There is such a deep history of evil greed, blood-letting opportunism, the disempowering force of blatant grand-scale injustices now constant and increasingly so severe, yet still being directed on the Papuan people throughout the entire realm of Papua (West) and its archipelagos.
    The atmospheres and environments of Papua are now fully permeated with the ill-forebodings that continue to highlight the countless acts of blatant harsh inflicted brutality and severest of oppressions, all arising from within the Indonesian government aided by its vigorously enforcing military Generals.
    Then too we see the enormity of high level corruption and graft dealings being perpetrated by both the current Indonesian government with its civil services and its military services that are akin to the worst in the world, as we observe Indonesia’s governing ministers looking to build their own personal wealth and standing in this expanding yet discordant and aggressive empire creating, military ruled realm of the South Pacific part of this World. .
    Such is the state of our World today that our futures throughout this region are all facing new and darker perils that have their genesis plotted by the militarised government administration of this territory encroaching Indonesia.
    Evil forces should be met with superior military empowered forces.

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