Dialogue a must for Papua

Dialogue a must for Papua
TAPOL press release, 9 July 2010

Papua is in a state of heightened tension following a series of events that culminated in a mass rally yesterday by thousands of Papuans at the provincial parliament, the DPRP, in Jayapura.

The demonstration and similar actions in other locations across the territory were intended to increase pressure on the DPRP to support a recommendation by the Papuan People's Assembly, the MRP, to 'return' Papua's 2001 special autonomy law to the central government in Jakarta.

A large number of Papuans continued the peaceful protest by staying outside the DPRP overnight. They intended to remain until a plenary meeting of the DPRP is convened to consider the MRP recommendation, but reports today indicate they have been forced by the police to disperse. So far there has been no formal response by the DPRP.

TAPOL believes that this political crisis can be resolved only by genuine dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuan representatives that addresses all the Papuan grievances and aspirations. Unless a meaningful process is instigated without delay, serious unrest could ensue.

The authorities should also respond seriously to the MRP's specific demands to demilitarise the territory, release political prisoners, halt transmigration policies, and impose strict limits on the inflow of migrants from outside Papua, says TAPOL.

It urges the security forces to exercise restraint in responding to actions in support of the MRP initiative.

At a landmark two-day meeting from 9-10 June to evaluate special autonomy, the MRP, in consultation with indigenous community groups, concluded that the implementation of special autonomy had failed and that the law should be 'returned' to the Indonesian government. The MRP called for dialogue with neutral international mediation.

Also included in the 11 recommendations issued by the MRP were demands for a referendum on independence, an embargo on international aid for special autonomy, the postponement of forthcoming local elections, and the closure of the Freeport copper-and-gold mine.

The outcome of the meeting reflected widespread frustration that the living conditions and human rights of the Papuans have not improved since the introduction of special autonomy and that their situation is worsening as a result of the economic exploitation of their land and resources aligned with a process of marginalisation that will soon leave them a minority in their own homeland.

The MRP recommendations were delivered to the DPRP on 18 June following a mass march from the MRP assembly building in nearby Kotaraja.

Contact Carmel Budiardjo on +44 208 771 2904 or Paul Barber on +44 1420 80153 or +44 774 730 1739