Govt told to tackle root of problems

Govt told to tackle root of problems

, 13 August 2010


Conflict in the Papuan province is a result of many factors and should not be seen as key issue to be addressed, an official with the National Defense Board said Thursday.

“The [conflicts] are not the cause; they are rather an effect. And what we need to solve are the factors that cause [of the conflicts],” said Bambang Darmono, the board’s secretary-general.

He said one factor was the ineffective implementation of special autonomy granted to the resource-rich province in 2001.

“The autonomy used to be regarded as a win-win solution [between the central government and the Papuans], but we have yet to see its implementation heading toward success,” he said during a launch of a book on Papua written by researchers at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

The book, titled Papua Road Map: Negotiating the Past, Improving the Present and Securing the Future, was first launched in Indonesian in June 2009.

Muridan S. Widjojo, a coordinator of a team of LIPI researchers who wrote the book, said the special autonomy was created as an instrument to solve four roots of the problems in Papua: the failure of development, state violence and alleged human rights abuses, marginalization and discrimination of the indigenous people of Papua, and historical and political status of the Papuan region. “However, lately the political conflict in Papua has become more worrisome. We witnessed the deepening political impasse. Various old problems intertwined with new ones. The nine years implementation of the special autonomy has not yet managed to unravel the root of the problem, let alone solve the conflict in Papua that has been embedded for 47 years.”

Papuan Governor Barnabas Suebu said the implementation of the special autonomy had been problematic. “Now problems cannot solve problems,” he added. Barnabas said the main reason behind the failure of the autonomy was the gulf in perception between the central government, the regional administration and the Papuan people on what a special autonomy entailed. The second reason, he added, was the lack of trust (between Papua and the central government). “Another reason is because there is no good will and determination.

“On the one hand, the central government has yet to hand over everything that should be the authority of the [Papuan] administration. On the other hand is the fact that the local administration is not ready to manage the power it was given and the special autonomy fund in ways that are transparent and accountable,” he said.

A senior adviser for the International Crisis Group, Sidney Jones, said the government needed to think more about the steps that need taking to lead to a point where dialogue with Papuans is possible.

“We’re not even talking about independence. We’re not talking about development. We’re talking about how much power Jakarta will allow the Papuan government to have, even if it doesn’t go with the national law. That question needs to be discussed among Papuans first and then [with the central government].”

Muridan said the main concern of the Papua LIPI team is that if the government failed to resolve the conflict in Papua, “sooner or later we would be forced by circumstances to take the same dreadful path as East Timor.”