Jakarta-Papua talk still possible

Jakarta-Papua talk still possible

Jakarta Post
Abepura, Papua
Neles Tebay
 


Despite the killing of Kelly Kwalik by Indonesian Mobile Brigade Police on Dec.16, 2009, at Timika, the capital of Mimika regeny, Papua, the Indonesian government under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Pa-puans have not yet shut down the window for dialogue.

A dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is important for both parties to jointly reach a peaceful and negotiated solution to the Papua conflict.

From the Papuans side, they have already demonstrated their commitment and willingness for a peaceful dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

The world has witnessed that during and after the Kwalik's burial in Timika town, Papuans were able to calm themselves. They did not retaliate against the police. There was no atrocity initiated by the Papuans. The Papuans have rejected violent approaches, such as killing, for it will never settle the conflict. They have already chosen dialogue as a civilized way to reach a dignified solution to the Papua conflict.

The Papuans publicly announced they wanted to settle the Papua conflict through a civilized way, through a neutral third party, which will mediate the dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. Kwalik's assassination has even renewed and strengthened their commitment to dialogue, as clearly communicated in the speech of the chairperson of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP).

It is the belief of the Papuans that the Indonesian authority will not keep repeating its violent approach and therefore choose a civilized way, such as dialogue, to settle the Papua conflict. This belief is based on the fact that the government under the leadership of Yudhoyono has successfully settled the government's armed conflict with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), through a third party-mediated dialogue with the signing of Helsinki Agreement in August 2005.

Yudhoyono has been reelected for the second term of his presidency. Yudhoyono's reelection gives hope that the government under his leadership will handle the Papua conflict through dialogue with the Papuans, as was done in Aceh.

During his first term, Yudhoyono made several public statements announcing the government's commitment to settle the Papua conflict through dialogue.

However, the promised dialogue has not taken place. The Papuans understood well that the President was not able to initiate a dialogue with them because his political party, the Democratic Party, was new and small. Yudhoyono might have been reluctant to settle the Papuan conflict through dialogue because his political support in the House of Representatives was weak and his attention was focused on the implementation of the Helsinki Agreement in Aceh.

For the second term of his presidency, Yudhoyono has very strong political backing in the House. His political party won the April legislative elections and his party has formed coalition with some other big and influential parties. Therefore, there is less possibility for him to face resistance in the House.

Yudhoyono, at the same time as being the head of state and government, is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Indonesian army.

It is in the second term of his presidency, then, that it seems proper for him to settle the Papua conflict through dialogue as all of the country's power now at his disposal.

Yudhoyono's initiative for the dialogue between Jakarta and Papua will certainly be supported by the House, the government, and the Indonesian Military (TNI).

That's why the Papuans see that dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is still possible, particularly during Yudhoyono's presidency.

Once the Jakarta-based government engages in dialogue with the Papuans, and the Papua conflict is settled without bloodshed, then this peaceful settlement to the conflict would be the Yudhoyono's legacy.

The history of Indonesia will record and tell that he was the only Indonesian president who was able to settle peacefully and permanently, the Papua conflict through dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

Not like in Aceh, where former vice president Jusuf Kalla was also involved, the peaceful settlement to the Papua conflict is and will be the Yudhoyono's work. It will be recognized his own idea.

A dialogue between Jakarta and Papua will really be considered as a manifestation of the Yudhoyono's genuineness and personal initiative.

As a result, he will be recognized internationally as a man of peace. It may even win him a Nobel Peace Price in the years to come.

It is needless to say that dialogue between Jakarta and Papua will certainly bring about a good reputation for the country of Indonesia before the eyes of international community. Therefore there is still hope and possibility for the present government to take the initiative for dialogue to settle the Papua conflict.

The writer is a lecturer at the Fajar Timur school of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, Papua.