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No Papuan Has Indonesian Soul : Papua Governor



Papua Governor, Lukas Enembe - Jubi

Papua Governor, Lukas Enembe – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – In the courtyard of Governor Lukas Enembe’s residential compound located in Angkasa, an elite neighborhood in Jayapura, Papua, two Christmas trees of 3 meters height stood in delightful decorations. The balcony provided the view of the sea and hills covered in fog to the heavy rain on 15 December 2015.

After waiting for about five hours, Tempo was allowed to come in. Wearing predominantly orange and beige Papuan motif batik, Enembe confessed he was not fit after visiting Freeport’s mining tunnel in Timika on 1 December.

“I didn’t use an oxygen mask at that time, so I had shortness of breath. Doctor advised me to undergo infusion, it’ll take for a minute,” Enembe told Maria Rita Hasugian, Tempo journalist, in an interview in the living room of his official residence.

For around two hours, Enembe answered the questions from Tempo on the strengthening of the role of Papuan young generation in voicing independence of Papua, awful conditions in several regencies, special autonomy, and the ownership of Freeport’s shares. The governor spoke softly and laughed out of loud several times. The former Puncak Jaya Regent—region known as the territorial of the National Liberation Army—Papua Free Movement led by Goliath Tabuni—said he is still the same person when he was Puncak Jaya Regent who talked loud, blunt, not contaminated with the interests of others. Here is the interview.

How is the political situation in Papua with calls growing louder among youth for Papuan independence?

From beginning, Papuans are politically different with people in other regions. Freeport’s contract of work in Papua already existed in 1967. Papua has not been integrated with Indonesia. The integration was in 1969. Papuans, in particular those in the coastal area, were promised to build their own country. It was actually triggering Papuans to keep fighting until today. It created remarkable political barriers and could never shape Papuans’ soul that we are Indonesian. Until today it’s never materialized. Jakarta thought Papuans are foolish, discriminated them while they are actually human beings. They (Papuans) completely understand, they understand the history and so on. They are very smart.

So, What should Jakarta do?

Jakarta enforced its own ways. It’s not right. Any problems could be solved if Papuans had self-determination what is the best for them. But if it was enforced, it could not be happened, it continues to happen from generation to generation. We looked at the Papuan history that from the start the political barriers are already existed. So Papua needs proper regulation to organize themselves to feel being part of Indonesia. It should be done independently, not by Jakarta, because we are humans. Such as the Law No. 21 (Special Autonomy Law) is not well implemented. Therefore Papuans increasingly don’t believe it. We asked Jakarta to trust on Papuans. If not, their perspectives on Jakarta and Indonesia-nationalism would be faded.

Has there been any change in Jakarta’s policies towards Papua now?

In the era of President Soeharto, Jakarta was very arrogant. In the New Order era, there was a Military Operation Territorial, and so on. Now, Indonesia is changing from time to time. It’s not the past. It could not be done through violence. The access of information is now opened. Today if we do something in Tolikara, the world would be informed immediately. So, there are the roots of problem that have not resolved yet. It made the new generation, the generation who born in 70-es are those who felt the oppression, experienced the military operations. They were born under the New Order system, which is centralistic and repressive, such as Benny Wenda whose mother was killed.

Many approaches taken by the government to get Papuans’ trust, but so far it’s not work out. Do you have any concrete suggestion?

I have opinion like this: there are many groups in Papua that existed only for their short-term personal interests, but claim they are great, have access, but there are also those who defense for the interests of Papua. So, to build a trust to Indonesia, it needs a regulation to revise the Special Autonomy Law through a new regulation. We fix some shortages through new regulation. What was happened during the time is it’s almost not implemented.

Once there was an evaluation?

Evaluation has never been conducted. You offer the Special Autonomy Plus? We are enforcing it to become Prolegnas (National Legislature Program) 2016. Hopefully the government will approve it, talk about this issue. The affirmative rights of Papuans are included in this law, especially Papua development. Currently, in the condition of rich in Papua, Papuans are poor. Jakarta does not make Papua as an object of exploitation of natural resources. But it is applied for the greatest people’s progress and prosperity. It should be fight. We have understood that people come to Papua for camouflage. Freeport is the evidence. All people actually wanted to approach Freeport. So if there are people who come for business interest, personal interest, taking the natural resources, the people of Papua would only wacth, they could only pray: Lord, thy own way of work has determined them. Papuans actually knew how greedy are those people to fight for the land of Papua.

There are systematic Papuan organizations for Papua independence such as KNPB and ULMWP. What do you say about this phenomenon?

Our brothers thought Jakarta could not longer be counted. That’s I thought. Therefore they expressed their voice to the international level. Hopefully Jakarta could understand it as something that should be resolved in Papua. There must be something big to be done in Papua in order to make Papuans obey to the country and have a feeling of being Indonesian, have character as Indonesian, have equal capacity like others, not feeling poor, not feeling dumb.

Where does the government have to unravel this?

It is costly for reconciliation due to some political agendas needs to be thoroughly settled from Jakarta. For instance, if you want solve problem in Papua, invite them and discuss with them. Did you mean a dialogue? It is a dialogue in the sense of building togetherness of Indonesia, to build Papua. It should involve all components, including the opposite groups. It doesn’t mean we want a separation. But Papuans regard this dialogue as an effort to separate from Indonesia, it’s wrong.

In your opinion, the opposite groups want a dialogue?

I think they would. For example the Papua Peace Network has already worked, if possible involve all components including those who oppose us. What worries of this dialogue that has not been implemented until now? It would probably lead us to the options of referendum or independent. Because dialogue in the sense of Papuans means the independence.

The existence of TPN-OPM (West Papua Liberation Army-Papua Free Movement) is quite tense lately?

Everyone got killed was often enough to accuse them (as perpetrator). It’s bad stigma for Papuans. Not everyone in Papua are TPN-OPM, but whenever the murder was occurred, TPN-OPM was accused. It cannot be generated. It’s a part of State’s apparatus that affected the national situation. I asked to my colleagues to be careful in placing themselves as security forces in Papua. Stop making trouble, Jakarta will feel disturbed.

Do you think that you are not being respected as leader in Papua?

Tolikara case was a set up. It might have a certain purpose. Do not think Papuans are stupid, no. They knew.

Until now the ballistic test of shooting case in Tolikara never been revealed to the public. Why?

All incidents occurred in Papua have never been revealed. The ballistic test was nonsense.

Then how to uncover the truth?

The truths, justice to discover cases occurred in Papua have never been happened. People just got killed like that. It is said the perpetrators were hunted, but where? Every shooting incident has never completely settled. Not thoroughly, entirely done.

In your opinion, what is exactly behind those incidents?

The great plan is Jakarta for taking control over Papua to take our potential natural resources. Imagine that from 1969 until now, all those potencies have been taken; illegal logging is still happened as well as illegal fishing. And illegal mining is also occurred since certain people only manage it, or it just took out and here considered as no man’s land.

How big is the tolerance of Papuans towards the current situation?

Jakarta should not forget that indigenous people live in Papua. If it’s destroyed, it still be revive, their history is existed from time to time. Papuans were dismissed, the number of immigrants was increased, it is not becoming problem because Papuan nature is alive. Jakarta shouldn’t use this method to destroy Papua. The impact of this problem could become a time bomb in the future.

You met the Minister of Politic, Legal and Human Rights Affairs related to Freeport’s share at the early of last December. What did you say to him?

Papua’s reaction is clear, it is the right moment for the extension of work of contract 2021. We have expressed the provincial government’s aspiration. We have 17 proposed items that have been discussed in the final period of the President Yudhoyono. And we said the same thing to Jokowi. An important point of 17 points is shareholder. The government should have a right regulation to get the shares. The participation of Papua government as shareholder should be determined this time. We might find a right pattern, probably such as Mahakam Block. Both Papua Government and indigenous Papuans must earn permanent dividend each year. We still discuss this issue.

Papua is impressed insecure, that foreign journalist could not enter Papua until now.

Who bans? Papua is safe indeed. Have you complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because foreign journalists are not allowed to Papua? Here we declare to any journalists, you are allowed to come. The access has been opened. Nothing is hidden now. Foreign journalist could come to other regions, why should they not be here?

There is information that the DOM status has not been officially revoked?

I don’t know whether it has been revoked or not. It looks still applicable. When did it revoke, we don’t know.

You make a policy concerning to the allocation of autonomy funding that 80 percent to regional governments and 20 percent to provincial government. But in Wamena, the hospital condition is poor, in Tolikara it’s reported the high teachers’ absence that they only come just ahead to the exam. Do you know about this?

Well, this policy of 80:20 was only running for a year. About Rp 4 trillion was allocated to regency. It’s only a first stage. No thorough evaluation at this stage. Indeed, it depends to each regent. If they really want to implement their vision-mission, they should allocate budget in accordance to Special Regional Regulation, that is 20-30 percent for education, 30 percent for health, and 20 percent for economic development. Strict to regulation therefore they can focus to their objective, management and targets. I believe we can gradually fix it. If the regents are not focus, have no future perspective towards their achievable target, the regions were going to die and people would suffer.

Have you find irregularities in the use of special autonomy budget?

Bappeda (Regional Planning Development Agency) made a report; it is still one year implementation. So we have not been evaluated. We will form a bigger team to evaluate the implementation of 80 percent budget in the second year. The team will be consisted of many stakeholders.

There is information about misuse of rice for poor program. Do you have any report about profiteering?

We knew. It was occurred from here or from the logistic warehouse in Wamena. How is the mechanism of rice distribution?

It should be done from here (Jayapura) to Logistic Office in Wamena. So was it happened in Wamena or from here, we would carefully see it. If it was occurred in Wamena, the weaknesses are at regional logistic office or its officials. Has it been investigated?

No, there is no investigation so far. We have to form a team. It is an outstanding violation. There should be an investigation in Wamena, whether the Jayawijaya Government know about it or not, or it was played by logistic officials.

Have you received a report?

No. I just heard. It means the weakness is in Wamena. We should find out whether the Jayawijaya Government got involved, that they are the actor. Many have complaint about it, but it’s still ongoing.

How to address the expensive cost of basic commodities in the central highland?

Well, it’s normal. As long as the industry has not been built in Papua, it would be costly. What kind of economic activities to address the high cost of basic commodities for people? It must be an industry in Papua. We talk about the construction of smelter, it would affect to the building of other industry. Therefore it could reduce the prices. As long as there is no industry, the prices of goods are still expensive. Nothing is cheap in the highland.

Any intervention to reduce prices?

We talk about building an industry. Because the mode of transportation there is airplane, so our intervention is open the road access. Hopefully in 2018 we could open the entire road access. Left only the asphalting phase. If the road access was opened, it would open up the economic activities surround the central highland.

What do you say about the situation in Papua?

We want Papuans to consider them as Indonesian; it must start from Papuans, then followed by the government’s act about how it prepares time and opportunity for Papuans. Do not use Jakarta’s ways in here. What is Jakarta’s ways? It is like enforcing the will without listening Papuans. There is no policy from Jakarta without involving all institutions that established by State in Papua. To our brothers in the opposite group, we must convince them in soft way that could be trust by Papuans, through bargaining approach.

When their heart were cut, do you think how much of percentage of Papuans currently to support the Republic of Indonesia?

If their heart were cut, they would say: I want freedom (laughing). They must speak like that.

Certainly it’s not easy to establish a country…

Therefore we hope the Jakarta Government to give affirmation with fully attention towards Papuan people. From the regulation aspect, do not make laws to harm Papuans. In 2020, Papua will be the host of National Sports Event. We encourage people to more think about the sports instead of politic. We must push young people to be passionate to compete in sports event. Therefore this region not just continuously talks about the political issues, like we are the hostages. Papuans also should be independent, not depend on the central government. So there are restoration, independent and prosperity. (*)

This article published by Tempo  Gubernur Papua: Belum Ada Orang Papua Berjiwa Indonesia

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Urgent international intervention in the Regency of Nduga, Papua Province, Indonesia : Open Letter



Five bodies found by residents of Nduga near Iniye Village, Mbua, Nduga on Thursday (10/10/2019) – IST


António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea


Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation

Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland




Indonesian security forces are killing civilians in Nduga, a remote regency (kabupaten) in the province of Papua.

The bodies of four women and a boy who disappeared on September 20, 2019, were found yesterday, the most recent victims of army violence in Nduga. They had been buried secretly to hide the crime committed by the army.

In early 2019, large numbers of additional Indonesian troops were sent to Nduga after an altercation involving the OPM, a Papuan group opposed to Indonesian sovereignty of Papua. By including the civilian population in this conflict, killing them indiscriminately with modern weapons, Indonesian security forces (army and police) not only are breaking international law but are making the conflict worse.

Papuan inhabitants of Nduga (2,168 sq klm) are a distinct ethnic group numbering about 100,000 people. The violence by the Indonesian army which escalated in 2019 has resulted in more than 40% of the population now being internally displaced persons. This means twelve administrative districts of Nduga have been emptied of their population, many schools left deserted, buildings and agricultural land vacant. This year, with 190 people in Nduga killed, Indonesian army policy is nothing less than ethnic cleansing and must be stopped immediately.

The Indonesian government in Jakarta is responsible for the actions of the Indonesian army but clearly the army is operating beyond all law, killing for no reason other than killing innocent people because they are the inhabitants of Nduga. Why the army wants to occupy this region, empty of its original inhabitants, has not been revealed.

Many thousands of people in Nduga have already fled because of the threat of being killed – but these four women and a young boy were ones who did not flee – and they were killed by the army. This is their home, this is where they live – it is the army which needs to leave, not the people who live here.

Indonesian President Jokowi is aware of problems caused by continuing army violence in Nduga. Together with the heads of many governmental departments, the governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, publicly requested the excess army troops be withdrawn, but the request has had no effect. I myself met with his top minister, ex-army general Wiranto, in charge of co-ordinating political, legal and security affairs, and with ACM Hadi Tjahjanto, commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces. Despite repeated requests, nothing has changed.

Only one day after Jokowi himself announced that all foreign journalists would be given access to Papua, not just a few carefully-selected media representatives, the regional army commander himself in Papua contradicted the president. Beyond the control of Jakarta, the violent methods used by the army, whether described as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or worse, must be stopped immediately.

With Indonesian sovereignty of Papua, there is a ‘responsibility to protect’ the Nduga population from the extreme human rights violations occurring there. According to the R2P global political commitment adopted by the United Nations and endorsed by Indonesia, action is urgently needed to address Jakarta’s inaction, reluctance or incapability of providing a safe place for civilians, including Papuan women and children in Nduga. Because Jakarta cannot stop the killing, I am asking for international assistance to protect the lives of people in Nduga. These four woman and the boy killed by the army were part of my family, and I am asking for international protection for all Papuan people who still live in Nduga – those who have not already fled in fear.

If we cannot live in Nduga without fear of being killed by the army, where can we go? In the past, refugees have fled from Papua Province across the border to Papua New Guinea but starting a new life in PNG is not the answer to the problem. It is the Indonesian army which is the problem.

What is needed is International intervention to stop the killing in Papua, to remove those sections of the army currently involved in the killing of innocent people in Nduga. Of course, Jakarta will disagree, as shown by repeated requests for President Jokowi to intervene. The tragedy here is well past the stage where mere promises or blatant denial by Jakarta will stop the killing. It must stop now. International intervention is required to stop the killing.

Yours faithfully,

Samuel Tabuni

Director at Papua Language Institute (PLI)

Phone: +6281285519592

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The origin of Indonesian racism towards Papuans and its implication to a Free West Papua Movement



Lukas Enembe, the governor of Papua Province talks to thoousands protester in Jayapura – Supplied

By Yamin Kogoya

ESCALATING violence and attacks on Papuan students saw thousands of young people march on the streets and set fire to the Parliament building in West Papua on 19th August 2019. This was in response to Papuan students being attacked in their dormitory in Surabaya last week after they had alleged bent a flagpole during the Indonesian Independence Day celebrations (on 17 August).

Surabaya police chief, senior commissioner Sandi Nugroho, said the attack on the Papuan student dormitory was carried out by Indonesian nationalist community groups who were angered by the treatment of their national flag.

In an effort to restore calm, the Papua Governor, Lukas Enembe called on all Indonesian citizens to respect their  national value of “unity in diversity” (Bhineka Tunggal Ika), and for the security forces to act professionally and in accordance with Indonesian laws and to not let activist groups take the law in their own hands. He reiterated that Papuans studying in Indonesian cities and towns must be treated with dignity and respect and is how Papuans treat Indonesians studying in West Papua.


The timing of last weeks’ attacks, retaliations and protests could not be more significant for both the Papuans and Indonesians. On 16th August 2019, the leaders of Pacific Island nations passed several resolutions regarding the Papuan genocide at the Pacific Island Forums, while 17th August 2019 was the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day.

Papuans are no stranger to Indonesia’s cruel and violent racism and which they have endured since the 1960s. Papuans have died, been marginalized, and had their rights denied because of racism.

Filep Karma, a West Papuan political activist experienced firsthand racism by Indonesians during his university years, and in 2014 said: “As If We Are Half Animal: Indonesia’s Racism in Papua Land”.

Fifty-six years later, and these cruel racial slurs are alive and thriving as Papuans continue to be called monkeys, insinuating that they are primitive. This insult cuts deep in the hearts of Papuans.

Just last week, Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer, Veronica Koman posted videos on her Twitter feed of Indonesian demonstrators holding up picture monkeys and chanted “kick out, kick out the transmigrants, kick out transmigrants now”.

While the world’s media is focusing on the violence involved in the demonstrations, they are ignoring what is at the heart of the demonstrations, that being racism. It is not acceptable to call Papuans monkeys, effectively denying them their fundamental intrinsic value of being human. And while President Joko Widodo called on his brothers and sisters in Papua and West Papua to forgive and forget, the racial harassment and discriminations against Papuan students has been ongoing.

Governor Enembe said “Papuans students throughout Indonesia always get called Monkey and are not safe”. During an interview on Indonesian TV ONE, he condemned the way Papuan students are treated in other parts of Indonesia. “It has been 74 years since Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch and this country still treats my people inhumanly. If the situation doesn’t improve, I will bring my Papuan students back home”.

Racism is a weapon deploy by the colonial power to break down the Papuan human spirit.  This is the same weapon Indonesia is using that was used on them by the Europeans, and who killed millions of the first nation people around the world over 500 years.

As the Jakarta Post[1] reported “racism” is at the heart of the Surabaya -West Papua conflict, and highlighted Indonesia’s own experience of racism under the Dutch colonial rule.

It appears that after 74 years of independence from the Dutch, and despite Indonesia’s national ideology of “Pancasila” and “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” (Five constitutional Pillars and Unity in Diversity”, it is still suffering from the decades of racial abuse under Dutch rule.

Indonesian treatment of Papuans is like a revenge towards unexamined grievances they suffered. Papuans’ genocide at the hands of Indonesia in West Papua and unprecedented destruction of their ancestral homeland originated in the minds of racist Europeans.  But they are projecting their anger onto the wrong people. They should direct their anger onto the Dutch and Western Governments.

The Dutch used guns and the Bible to tame the Indigenous Indonesian over 300 years. They broke their human spirit and imagination through racial discrimination. They were dehumanized and used as a lethal weapon against all other non-Dutch Europeans.

The Dutch implemented a class system whereby the Indonesians were third class citizens, well beneath the first-class Europeans, and the second-class Chinese and Arabs.

And so, the cycle continues, with Indonesia trying to dehumanize and break the Papuan spirit so they can rebuild them to identity with Indonesian colonial ideas.

Indonesia wants to love Papuans and accept them as part of Indonesia. However, they can’t because, just like their former European colonialists, Indonesia has wrong and distorted information about Papuans.

As articulated by sociologist Thomas Scheff in the Jakarta Post[2] on Friday, May 31, 2013:

“there is no love between Papuans and Indonesians. It is infatuation. Genuine love requires detailed knowledge of the other”.

Another tragic learned behaviour from the Dutch is Indonesia taking the role of “definer”. Essentially, Indonesia sees itself as the tape measure that other people and cultures have to measure up to or ‘be defined’.

Papuans are subjected to racism everywhere they go, from university dormitories, the marketplace and on the streets. The Papuan values, feelings, emotions and psychology are under constant attack by the colonial racist system. This is the institutionalized racism to poison the soul of Papuans.

West Papua has been treated as a commodity for years, being passed around and sacrificed as world leaders saw fit. The USA, Australia, Dutch and Indonesia decided its fate during the negotiations in the 1960s. It was sacrificed for world peace on UN’s alter in 1963 and handed over to Indonesia in an attempt to halt the spread of communism in Indonesia (by way of providing an army).  Remarkably, West Papuans was never considered nor were they invited to participate in this meeting

US president Kennedy referred to West Papuans as “The 700,000 living in the stone age…a few thousand square miles of cannibals land.” Papuans was used to secure the interest of Western governments and the Soviet Bloc. They had no value and rights. The result of these negotiations cost millions of Papuan lives.[3]

Western policy makers were more concerned with teaching Papuans how to eat with knife and fork rather than their rights for political independence.

Unfortunately for Papuans, their relationship with Europeans has always been tainted by racism. The Western governments, Chinese, Indonesian and industrialised countries always assume that natural state of being Papuan is not desirable which is why they always attempt to dehumanise the Papuans.

According to Dr. Tarcisius kabutaulaka, associate professor at the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the Univeristy of Hawaii, European’s have always placed Melanesian people at the bottom of human hierarchy because of their darker skin colours and cultural traits that led to them being viewed as primitive. They bare the internal stigma of “Oceanic Negroes”.  The crimes Melanesian committed to be boxed at the bottom of Europeans category was simply the fact. [4]

The intriguing aspect about this recent demonstration is how seriously Papuan students and young people are taking the issue of ‘racism’. They are using the ongoing racism to voice their deep aspiration for independence from Indonesia.

Recently, Indonesia has been focusing on building diplomatic relationships with the Pacific island countries but, how can a genuine relationship be built and sustained when one party approaches the other with a paternalistic colonial mental outlook? This was evident during the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland[5] whereby the Indonesian government did not disclose the real issues faced by Papuans. What Indonesia did display was misconstrued image of the Papuan.

If Indonesia continues to see Papuans through the lens of racism (monkey), why would they treat any other black race in the Oceania with love and respect. To build a sense of brotherhood among all men across all our cultural and religious prejudices, we need a new interconnectedness worldview, not racially fragmented one.

if President Jokowi was sincere about calling Papuans “brothers and sisters” then it is time for Indonesian to treat Papuans with dignity and respect, including the overwhelming desire by Papuans for “Independence”.  Otherwise these words are meaningless.

Despite the Indonesian effort to truncate the growing support for an independent West Papua, the Pacific island leaders did pass a few resolutions in during last week PIF’s meeting in Tuvalu.

What do these resolutions really mean to Papuans? Whether it was a mere Orwellian exercise concocting the final communique -a pure fiasco or it is one of the steps that will enable the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to enter UN General Assembly, one thing is clear that support for the West Papuans plight is growing.

This support from Pacific island communities will likely grow in the future if Indonesia continues to mistreat their fellow Papuans.

Calling Papuans a monkey can and will ignite the fire of resistance (as seen by thousands of Papuans protesting and setting fire to parliament house). The issue of racism is serious and failure to recognise this will end up costing Indonesia the very thing they are trying to hold on to.

As Evi Mariani warned Jakarta in her paper published yesterday by the Jakarta Post[6]:

“Racism in the love story in Bumi Manusia is the prequel to Indonesia’s budding nationalism against the occupation of the Dutch before our independence in 1945. Surely, we would not want the racism befalling Papuans to pave the way for their struggle for independence from “Indonesian occupation” on their land”.

The outspoken Free West Papua advocate, the governor of PNG Oro Province, Gary Juffa has warned through his official Facebook page that:

“In case any of you have any misconception about your future fate at the hands of expanding Indonesian influence…here is a grim remainder…if they call our brothers and sisters monkeys…on their own land…that is exactly what they are calling us now”

The leaders of “Blue Pacific” cannot be naïve like a rabbit by inviting the wolves from Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra to discuss about what they are going to have for dinner. Dangerous and yet virtues rabbit is better than harmless and virtue less creature that lives only to be eaten by predators.

It is West Papua’s deepest hope that the Pacific Island leaders will not sacrifice West Papua by accepting a worldly materialistic offer by Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra. How remarkable it would be in this modern world for the racially abused and subjugated people are able to stand firm against the might and reject the gold in favour of their own souls. That would be the retelling of an old story written anew. (*)

Author is Australia-based anthropologist


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Who actually benefits from the Trans Papua Highway?



President Widodo’s entourage visiting Trans Papua Highway construction (Biro Pers)

Papua, JubiIndonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Cahyo Pamungkas says that the Trans Papua Highway has yet to bring any benefits to the Papuan people.

“The benefits for indigenous people can’t be seen yet. So people ask who exactly is the road for? Because the there is still illegal logging in the central highlands, the highlands are being destroyed, it’s easier for outsiders to exploit natural resources”, said Pamungkas at a press conference on the conflict in Nduga regency at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Jakarta on Thursday July 18.

Pamungkas explained that instead of benefiting ordinary Papuans, the Trans Papua Highway threatens their economic wellbeing.

“Pig livestock from Toraja comes into Wamena. So the Wamena’s people’s pigs don’t sell. This threatens their economy. It is increasingly easy for outsiders to come to Wamena, so Wamena people see the road as a threat to their future”, explained Pamungkas.


Pamungkas said that the Trans Papua Highway project only connects regencies or cities and the benefits of this are not felt by the Papuan people. Meanwhile roads between villages and districts which are in fact what is actually needed are not being built.

“Yet roads like this (between villages and districts) are very important, for example simply to sell vegetables produced by farmers in markets”, said Pamungkas.

According to Pamungkas, the Trans Papua Highway actually facilitates the exploitation of natural resources which can be seen from large number of trees being felled and gold mining.

“Moreover when LIPI researched development on this road, we found many logging camps for logging in the direction of the Papua Lorentz National Park, which should a protected area”, explained Pamungkas.

Pamungkas is of the view that the government should immediately hold a dialogue with Papuan social leaders with the assistance of appropriate mediators.

“Because the most important thing at the moment is liberating the Papuan people from the memory of suffering which has built up over time. Particularly the acts of violence by security forces which has resulted in trauma for the residents of Nduga regency, Papua province”, he explained.

Local people’s rights

Expressing a similar view to Pamungkas, Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Aviva Nababan believes that the Trans Papua Highway does not provide any clear benefits. He also questions the government’s planning process for the road.

“Looking at it again from the process. Did the government design its function by thinking about the rights of the people the road impacts on? Did they really follow the principles of involving local communities? If not, this needs to be fixed. We think it shouldn’t be seen from the perspective of western Indonesia. There’s a road, lovely. There’s a road, great”, said Nababan at Jakarta LBH on Friday July 19.

Nababan warned that Indonesia has a commitment to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meaning that it must involve local communities in all development planning.

He also asked the government to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans. Because according to Amensty’s research, there have been alleged human rights (HAM) violations which have made Nduga residence traumatised and afraid of the security forces.

“When there are problems of HAM violations related to law enforcement in Papua, the tendency is that the cases are rarely investigated. Let alone followed up, or satisfactory accountability”, he explained. (*)



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