Dozens of Papuan groups want peace talks with Jakarta

Nethy Dharma Somba , The Jakarta Post

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNLC) said dozens of organizations in the restive province of Papua demanded talks with the central government to find peaceful solutions for separatist and human rights' violation issues.

"Papua wants to communicate with the government to resolve challenges in Papua," West Papua Military Council spokesman and WPNLC member Jonah Wenda said in Jayapura, Papua.

"We are just waiting for the government to set the date."

He was accompanied by other WPNLC members, Yahamak tribe members A.S. Kailele and S.M. Paiki, and a number of well-known Papuan figures.

Jonah claimed 30 organizations in Papua, affiliated with the WPNLC, wished to hold peace talks with the central government in Jakarta, mediated by a third party.

The WPNLC was formed because there was a need for a body to discuss pressing issues, said Kailele, who was jailed in Kalisosok in East Java for raising a separatist flag in Papua, which is regarded as a subversive act.

"The WPNLC has also been established to conduct and promote peace talks," Jonah said.

He added the WPNLC sent two letters to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2007 and 2008 requesting the central government participate in dialogue with Papua, but the President did not respond.

The WPNLC held various meetings with companies in Papua, claimed to have taken place overseas for security reasons, to organize a conference with the central government, mediated by a third party.

"We are ready to converse with the government about important issues," Jonah said.

Jonah added the organizations in Papua wanted peace to reign in the province.

He said the WPNLC hoped for resolutions to conflicts in Papua to be carried out peacefully.

S.M. Paiki, another WPNLC member, said peace talks between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the government, which was mediated by a neutral party, showed the separatist issue could be resolved by involving a third party.

"A third party can be either a certain country or an international NGO," Jonah said.

Earlier, human rights activists and analysts urged the central government to initiate dialogue with representatives from various groups in Papua, to avoid violent outbreaks and separatism in the resource-rich province.

They argued dialogue was an effective way to end the violence in Papua.

The call came after repeated attacks on US-based gold mine company PT Freeport Indonesia in Mimika regency.

Gunmen opened fire on a company bus Saturday morning, injuring two men.

This is the latest incident since attacks at the mine that claimed three lives in July.

A group of Papuan leaders, led by West Papua Legislative Council Speaker Jimmy Demianus Ijie, asked Vice President Jusuf Kalla to mediate a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua to solve long-standing problems.

Jimmy said Kalla was suited to the job, due to his key role in restoring peace in Maluku, Poso, Central Sulawesi, and also in Aceh.