During discussions with members of the Papuan Provincial Legislative Assembly (DPRP), the ambassador expressed strong support for the special autonomy law enacted eleven years ago and said that the US government recognises West Papua as a part of the Republic of Indonesia.He said that his main interest was in the development programme in West Papua and to discuss possible collaboration in this process.
The deputy head of the DPRP, Yunus Wonda, said the ambassador was keen to know what the priorities were in development and said the ambassador was particularly interested in education and health.
He also asked about the difficulties surrounding the election of the governor which resulted in the election being delayed for two years. Yunus explained that the problems had emerged because of a dispute in the MK (This presumably refers to the Constitutional Court – Tapol).
With regard to education, the ambassador said that the US is willing to help by providing study opportunities to young Papuans in the US.
Yunus asked the ambassador how many indigenous Papuans were now studying in the US, adding that they were keen to know the names of these people, to see whether they were indeed indigenous Papuans.
The DPRP also called on the US to support the idea of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. He said that they would not use this dialogue to press for independence for Papua but were only interested in advancing the implementation of the special autonomy law.
Talks with military personnel
Marciel said that the US was very impressed by the developments that had already been achieved and also with the reforms that had been made with regard to the TNI (the Indonesian army). These remarks were made during a meeting between the ambassador and senior officers of the provincial military command. On this occasion the ambassador met the chief of staff of the military command along with seven other senior officers.
In a press release issued by the US team, the ambassador referred to Freeport and asked for clarifications about the company and wanted to know whether there could be more collaboration (with the company) in education, culture and security.
The chief of staff explained that according to Law 34/2004, the military were now implementing ‘soft power’ in their territorial operations in Papua, and were keen to assist in speeding up development and human resources so as to ensure that West Papua would not continue to lag behind other parts of Indonesia.
In response to the ambassador’s question as to why the duties of the military command in West Papua were so much greater here than elsewhere and required a very different approach, the chief of staff said that the military were acting in accordance with their noble duties as ‘Noble Protectors of the People’ (Ksatria Pelindung Rakyat).
During a meeting with the first deputy chairman of the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) Hofni Simbiak, the ambassador said he wanted to know more about the election of the governor and to know more about governmental affairs in the Province of Papua. Hofni said that even a very large tree could be felled at any time. Because of this, he said that he hoped that there would be more diplomatic visits to Papua so as to give guidance on leadership on the province.
He said that the ambassador’s visit was a good opportunity to discuss the gubernatorial problem, as well as the whole process of government. in the province. He said that they were very interested in this matter so as to ensure the the common people would not be victims of this situation.
He explained that because of the continued absence of an elected governor, no budget had been produced and there was no one who could take responsibility (for finances). This was having serious consequences for the people. (Simbiak) said that they had urged the KPU (Electoral Commission) to discuss this matter with the provincial government and to take firm action on the matter. He said it was extremely important for a governor to be elected because without this, the services provided by the governor were not available and this was leading to big problems for the people.
The ambassador said that the American people were aware of the difficulties regarding the governor and said: ‘We are having an election of our president in the US and face the same situation as you here in Papua because we are keen to provide help for the government here in the fields of education, health and forestry.’
Meeting with Tito Karnavian
In a meeting with Inspector-General of the Police Force, Tito Karnavian, the ambassador expressed support for the developments already achieved by the police.
The chief of police said that when they were confronted with acts of violence, they always act in accordance with the law and in a professional manner, keeping the use of violence to a minimum. He also spoke about their activities to combat corruption so as to ensure that the development budget could serve the interests of the people.
He said that the ambassador had stressed the importance of transparency and in case of acts of abuse by the police, everything should be made public. When he asked in what way the US could help, the chief of staff said that they could be given advice on how best to deal with demonstrations. The second point he made was that for purposes of investigation, the difficulty is that there is no forensic laboratory in Papua. His third point was about the need for working together especially with Bhayangkari (the organisation of wives of the military), in particular with regard to partnerships with the people.
In response, the ambassador expressed great enthusiasm and said he hoped that joint programmes would be conducted in the next four or five years.
Marciel also expressed support for the police pursuing a lenient approach and the need to avoid projecting an image of the police as being involved only in arresting and detaining people but should prioritise activities that bring them close to the people.
[Translated by TAPOL]
[COMMENT: There is no mention at all of the ambassador having met leaders of Papuan organisations such as DAP, the Council of Indigenous People, KontraS Papua, ELSHAM-Papua or other people’s organisations.]