Aceh serves as model for Papua

Aceh serves as model for Papua

The Jakarta Post
Hotli Simanjuntak
Banda Aceh

Papuans can learn Aceh’s transition to democracy, which has been far more successful than Papua, an activist from South Papua’s Association of Pegunungan Tengah Students (IPMPT) says.

Association deputy chairman Hermina Gurit said that while Aceh was once embroiled in a prolonged conflict its community had eventually found peace following the signing of a peace agreement between the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government in 2005 in Helsinki.

“Aceh is now at peace and upholds the values of democracy well,” Hermina told on Aceh-Papua democratic movement reconciliation forum in Banda Aceh on Thursday, which was organized by the Aceh Inong League (LINA).

LINA, an institution that provides education on democracy to Acehnese women, invited Papuans to the event to allow them to see firsthand how peace had been achieved in Aceh.

Hermina said what Aceh had achieved could serve as a lesson for Papua, especially in how it had dealt with armed conflicts involving the community and the central government.

Hermina also said the special autonomy assigned to Papua had not achieved its intended function, particularly because it had been carried out half-heartedly by the central government. “There are many things that need straightening out,” she said.

Another Papuan student, Jeffrey, who currently lives in Jakarta, agreed, saying Papua’s special autonomy had not been implemented seriously or correctly by the central government.

“It is true the central government has given the head to Papuans, but it still holds the tail, creating an imperfect implementation of special autonomy,” Jeffrey said, blaming the failure on the central government’s centralistic system.

Jeffrey said that prior to the allocation of special autonomy, the central government never involved Papuans in the deliberation of its regulations for the province.

It’s not surprising, he said, that many Papuans see Papua’s special autonomy as a devide et impera political move that will only create internal conflicts among the Papuan community.

“So far, the special autonomy has only been successful in the infrastructure development sector, as shown by the presence of numerous new government buildings and new cars on the streets,” Jeffrey said.

Because of the failure of democracy in Papua, he said, many still lived in fear and poverty, leaving the education sector even further behind and creating gaps in human resources.