conflict sources

"We, the religious leaders, feel like spectators at a football match. We sit on the stand and watch how the players play on that field … Some run with the ball individually, not minding their fellow players. Some just walk around casually, some even far off the field. There are some who kick the referee. Others stamp the trainer and force him to hand over all the money, so that they can quickly use it in the corners of the field. We just watch from the stand. We shout, reminding them to improve whatever goes wrong and to stick to the rules. Sometimes we loose patience and want to jump onto the field to join the game. But we can't. It is not our business. It is our business to shout, either to support or to reprimand or even to swear. But we feel that our voices are like the voice of the one crying in the desert.'

Source: Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar OFM (Bishop of Jayapura)

According to the view of the religious leaders, as expressed by Bishop Leo Ladjar OFM, the tensions that characterise the situation in West Papua have emerged out of decades of oppression and a suppressed 'collective memory' of abuse (memoria passionis). These tensions are also caused by factors that could easily trigger conflict. Future conflicts could have various sources; some of which are described below:

1. Differing Political Aspirations

There are differing political aspirations among the Papuan people, particularly concerning the issue of Papua's integration into the unitary state of Indonesia. These different aspirations are yet to be properly reconciled. Meanwhile, the Special Autonomy Law has not been an adequate response to the aspirations of Papuan people. In fact, Special Autonomy also has the potential to cause tensions among Papuans themselves.

2. Misuse of Official Status and Authority

The contest for (government) positions amid initiatives giving priority to Papuans in recruitment practices could easily become a source of conflict. In addition, the national 'diseases' of corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN), as well as a 'project mentality', have spread easily in Papua.

3. Diffuse governance

While there is a desire to see governance in Papua placed increasingly under civilian authority, the Indonesian army (TNI) continues to assume a prominent role in governance - and this role becomes more entrenched everyday. TNI is a source of conflict and tension in the community.

4. Suspicion between ethnic and tribal groups

A lack of respect for the dignity and rights of human beings is a source of conflict. There are those who are yet to fully appreciate others as fellow 'human beings' and deserving of respect on this basis. The status and dignity of a person is more often measured in consideration of their physical appearance (their skin colour, etc.) or based on their wealth and social status.

5. Suspicion between different religious groups

The human instinct to compete and gain the upper hand over rivals can encourage people to call on the help of God/Allah to back them in their race. Throughout history, this narrow perspective of religion has given rise to fanatical views from extreme religious groups that seek not only to be stronger than other religious groups, but to also wipe them out by any means possible. These groups bring about tension and social unrest through the use of.

6. Socio-economic disparity

One of the main potential sources of conflict is the difference in socio-economic welfare. While some have a lot - perhaps even much more than they need; others have little or live in continuous poverty. The gap between rich and poor is a form of injustice (a result of some defending their existence without compromise) and this causes disharmony in the relations between people. This imbalance is a potential source of conflict that threatens the prospects for peace.

Source: Keynote speech of Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar OFM to the 'Peace Conference for Papua', 15-16 October, in Jayapura.

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