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Home » , , , » Activists Call for Dialogue on Papua’s Future

Activists Call for Dialogue on Papua’s Future

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on October 30, 2011 | 8:04 PM

Rights activists agree that the government should work to solve the problems besetting the restive provinces of Papua and West Papua through dialogue and by halting the violence and ongoing human rights violations by security forces there.
Poengky Indarti, the executive director of rights group Imparsial, said she hoped President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could approach the Papuan people as part of efforts to solve the problem there, including initiating a dialogue with local people.

“Who else can we hope to become the strong figure that will be able to unite this nation but the president? Because he was elected after receiving the majority of the people’s votes,” she said on Sunday.

Poengky added that former president Abdurrahman Wahid had managed to involve the Papuan people in discussions by approaching them, including by allowing them to change the name of their region to Papua from the previous title of Irian Jaya, and to fly the pro-independence flag.

He also went to Papua himself to hold a dialogue with the local population.

However, she said that President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who replaced Wahid, undid his work by issuing the special autonomy law and splitting Papua into two provinces.

Poengky said the trillions of rupiah that had been poured into Papua to accelerate development there had not reached much of the population and that a large proportion of it had been used to line the pockets of local officials.
“This is one of the many things that made the people of Papua increasingly disappointed with the Central Government,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ridha Saleh, the deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Sunday urged the security forces to refrain from conducting raids that lead to rights violations and subsequently have a significant impact on efforts to solve the problems in Papua through dialogue.

He said that the commission had already found several cases of human rights violations by security personnel following the violent breaking up of the Papua People’s Congress in Abepura on Oct. 17.

He said that even would-be pastors at the local Higher School of Philosophy in Abepura and tribal customary leaders had become victims to the violence by security forces.

Usman Hamid, an activist with the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that he believed the security forces were bent on weakening pro-peace groups in Papua .

“Considering the context of raids conducted at the Higher School of Philosophy, it is apparent that the security forces target gathering places of peace activists,” Usman said.

He added that by pushing the notion that separatism was rife in Papua the authorities could justify asking for more troops and money.
Usman said the continuing violence by the security forces could make it hard for the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua Provinces to do its job.

Paskalis Kossay, a member of the House of Representatives from Papua, said that although the government’s special autonomy program for Papua is more than 10 years old, there has never been an evaluation conducted.

“It should have been evaluated after three years,” Paskalis said.
“The evaluation of the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law would also be the duty of this team. The president had already planned an evaluation by forming this team,” Velix Wangai, a presidential adviser on regional autonomy, said on Saturday.

Rights activist and former State Secretary Bondan Gunawan said that to settle the problems in Papua, the government should work in the field.

“Go deep into Papua, and look for information on why the violence happens,” Bondan told a public discussion on Papua over the weekend.

He said that if the violence and other problems in Papua are left to fester, unsolved for a long period, “then with time, there will be a wish to secede.”

Researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that the problems in Papua concerned marginalization and discrimination.
One of the researchers, Adriana Elisabeth, said that the lack of development in Papua and also a failure of politics there meant there should be a complete re-evaluation of policy.
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