The deployment of security forces in Papua indicates that Papua is Jakarta’s top priority. For the Indonesian government, in order to restore order and maintain stability in Papua, the presence of security forces is vital to deter criminal armed groups in the region.
At the same time, the rise of armed incidents and the deployment of security forces to Papua have also attracted international attention. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr have stated their governments’ concern over the Papua issue.
This should alert the Indonesian government that they must adopt clear measures to deal with armed groups in Papua. In its efforts to restore order in Papua, any misuse and wrongdoing in the use of force from the Indonesian security forces would be easily manipulated by the West Papua independence movements.
The idea of independence or secession from Indonesia is still appealing to some Papuans. This can be seen from the ability of the Papua independence movements to maintain operations abroad. The independence movements use the violations of human rights and economic oppression in Papua as their main magnet to attract international support.
For many years the Indonesian government has put much diplomatic effort into mitigating separatism. If not carefully measured, making Papua a security issue could jeopardize previous diplomatic efforts to wash away the seeds of separatism from West Papua.
In dealing with armed criminal groups in Papua, the government should also be aware of the implication on Indonesia’s position abroad. International support is vital to maintaining Indonesia’s territorial integrity. As the former Indonesian foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, said, every domestic issue has a foreign policy aspect. The issue of Papua also has domestic and international dimensions.
In this light, any Indonesian government policy on Papua should calculate its implications for international support for Indonesia. In doing so, the Indonesian government would have a more balanced approach to Papua both domestically and internationally. More importantly, this would give Indonesian diplomacy a better chance to generate support for a credible solution on the Papua issue.
It has been argued that Papua could be the next tragedy for Indonesia after Timor Leste. Papua has the same ingredients that Timor Leste had and this could lead to disintegration. The increase of human rights violations, insecurity in the provinces and international financial crisis could lead to the same tragedy.
To prevent the same tragedy from happening again, the people and the government of Indonesia should embrace the people of Papua with the idea of freedom under Indonesian unity. This could be put forward as an alternative to the idea of independence from Indonesia.
The people of Papua are craving for freedom to express themselves. They want freedom, opportunities and to benefit from the development in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific. They are seeking a fruitful outcome from full autonomy.
Until the Papuans taste freedom, the government should be aware of the dimensions of the Papuan issue. In the international realm, dealing with the issue of Papua through security approach alone would have a little benefit towards Indonesian territorial integrity. Thus, diplomacy should always in the mind of Indonesian policy makers when it comes to the issue of Papua. By putting diplomacy first, the government could better balance and strategize its policy on Papua.
Published in : The Jakarta Post.com/news/