Independence aspirations persist despite autonomy

Independence aspirations persist despite autonomy

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post, Saturday, August 22, 2009
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura

The granting of special autonomy to the Papua region has not proven sufficient enough to quell the ongoing internal struggle of its people for independence and separation from Indonesia.

"The root of the problem is Papua's political status, which is not recognized by Indonesia or the world.

This in turn means Papua is not recognized as a sovereign country, so we will continue to demand independence at all costs," said Zadrak Taime, secretary of the Sentani-Sarmi traditional organization.

Zadrak was representing the organization at a meeting between the Papua Traditional Council (DAP) and the Keerom community with the Home Ministry's Sociopolitical Affairs Director General, Ahmad Tanribali Lamo, deputy at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Maj. Gen. Karseno, and director of conflict mitigation at the Sociopolitical Affairs Directorate General, Sr. Comr. Widiyanto, in Jayapura on Thursday.

Apart from political issues, the participants at the meeting discussed the growing social gap between state officials and people at a grassroots level since the implementation of special autonomy.

"Special autonomy funds have been distributed to Papuans, but officials are the only ones who have benefited from them.

We don't know where the funds have gone to, but we can see that officials are getting richer, their homes are becoming more lavish and some own three private cars," said Zone V DAP head, Hubertus Kwambrey.

"We demand the government stop stigmatizing the Papuans who desire independence as separatists. Please stop using that term and look at the root of the problem," said Markus Haluk, who spoke for DAP head Forkorus Yoboisembut. Forkorus was ill and could not attend the meeting.

Tanribali said such comments should be directed to the Home Minister. He said the government had paid serious attention to development in Papua.