‘Prejudice and distrust’ leave Papua roadmap in limbo

‘Prejudice and distrust’ leave Papua roadmap in limbo
, 29 July 2010

A planned dialogue between the central government and Papua to seek a comprehensive settlement to long-standing problems is in limbo because both sides still deeply distrust one another, researchers say.

“Jakarta and Papua no longer share mutual trust or common ground .... Both sides bear prejudices.

Papuans accuse Jakarta of ignorance and militarism, while Jakarta accuses Papua of secessionism,” Muridan S. Widjojo said Monday.

His team at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) was assigned by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2005 to identify the most serious problems in Papua. The team produced the Papua Roadmap, which was published as a book earlier this year. However, so far all attempts to meet the President or his officials have failed, Muridan said.

Last month Papuan leaders and civil society groups gathering in Jayapura concluded that nine years of special autonomy had “failed”.

They demanded among others “a dialogue with neutral international mediation”, and a “referendum on political freedom”.

The summary of the June 9-10 gathering, attended by 450 representatives and leaders, will be submitted to the President pending approval from the governors of Papua and West Papua.

The delegates cited continued problems including poverty of “81.52 percent”, or more than 391,000 households; 70 percent of residents with HIV/AIDS are indigenous Papuans; and 95 percent of local budget funds “are spent outside Papua.”

“Special autonomy does not mean money,” said religious leader Benny Giay, who joined the June talks.
“It has only enriched local elites, while most indigenous people have been marginalized by immigrants or remain isolated in the jungle.”

Jakarta has declined to draft regulations that would allow the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) and the provincial legislature to issue regulations, including affirmative action for indigenous people and the settlement of human rights abuses, MRP spokesman Agus Alua said.

Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi blamed the disappointment on rampant graft and dissatisfaction with local elites in Papua and West Papua.

“If the special autonomy program has become corrupted and stagnant, the people should seek accountability from their elites,” Gamawan said.

He added that he did not see problems with political stability in either of the two provinces. The Free Papua Movement has been the main reason for the presence of the troops in Papua, despite human rights groups reporting regular cases of military abuse against civilians.

The new Papua monitoring team at the legislature is discussing the situation with high-level officials.

Muridan said Jakarta should learn from now independent Timor Leste and the peace talks ending the war with separatists in Aceh. In Timor Leste, “we relied too much on the Indonesian Military and the National Intelligence Agency.”

Neles Tebay, rector of the Fajar Timur Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, urged Yudhoyono to capitalize on the proposed dialogue as a timely opportunity to resolve outstanding issues and strengthen national unity.

“The people will likely regain confidence in Jakarta if the President holds the dialogue and listens to the people’s aspirations,” Neles said.