As always, Jakarta has reacted strongly to a foreign government giving room to people aspiring for an independent Papua. The recent opening of a Free West Papua (OPM) office in the British city of Oxford is the latest event to have ignited diplomatic tension between Indonesia and another country.
To Indonesia, the presence of the OPM office is a slap in the face due to its sovereignty over the nation’s easternmost region which the world has recognized since the United Nations-supervised Act of Free Choice resulted in Papua’s integration into Indonesia in 1969. The UK, along with Australia, Papua New Guinea and the US, where the campaign for Papua independence has spread untroubled, understands well this history and respects Indonesia’s territorial integrity, but cannot restrict a movement exercising what it regards as its freedom of expression.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa summoned British Ambassador Mark Canning on Monday to file a diplomatic protest, in particular because the attendance of Oxford Mayor Mohammed Abbasi, his predecessor Elise Benjamin and a UK parliament member from Oxford Andrew Smith at the opening of the OPM office appeared to contradict London’s commitment to acknowledging Papua as an integral part of Indonesia.
Nothing worse, such as a nationwide movement to ban British goods and investment, is expected to follow the diplomatic brouhaha. The stakes are too high for Indonesia for it to bow to calls from some nationalist-minded activists for expulsion of, for example, British Petroleum from the gas–rich West Papua regency of Bintuni Bay.
Indonesia’s noisy protests against foreign governments over the Papua issue sounds like barking up the wrong trees as such moves will never solve the problem. Papuan independence fighters in exile will instead enjoy the free publicity from the diplomatic uproar and step up their campaign across the world. Reports have it that OPM plans to set up another office in Germany.
The solution to the nagging problem of Papua rests solely with policymakers here in Jakarta. For decades natural resources in Papua have been extracted without fair payback. Jakarta has responded to local people’s grievances over this rampant injustice with an iron fist as evident in the prevailing security approach in place there.
In the eyes of the Jakarta elites, Papua is no more than a precious territory they have to defend under the guise of national unity. The fact that poverty still plagues Papua despite its wealth of natural resources is testament to Jakarta’s ignorance of human development there.
The special autonomy granted to Papua and West Papua provinces has certainly brought in trillions of rupiah in cash from Jakarta, but the fact that the two provinces remain on the list of the country’s poorest regions should raise concerns about the lax, or absence of, scrutiny by Jakarta of the use of these massive funds.
2) Free Papua commander surrenders to Indonesian police
Thu, May 9 2013 12:52 | 75 Views
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) - A commander of Free Papua Organization (OPM) Isak Kalaibin of Sorong, here on Wednesday surrendered to Indonesian police after his gang had ambushed security officers in Aimas village.
"Kalaibin went to a police office to surrender and was accompanied by several local religious leaders," said Deputy Chief of the Papua Provincial Police Brigadier General Paulus Waterpauw here on Wednesday.
Several armed members of Kalaibin's gang had attacked a joint security team in Aimas village, where it had been reported that separatist OPM`s star flag had been hoisted.
When entering the village, the security officers and Kalaibin's armed members were involved in a clash that killed three members of Kalaibin.
"Kalaibin is now being detained in Aimas Resort Police Office of Sorong District, and being interrogated intensively," Waterpauw said.
The join security team consisting of the Indonesia Military (TNI) and Police officers were attacked by the armed group when they entered Aimas.
Armed men attacked the officers, damaged their vehicles and injured a military officer`s head.
The security officers responded by shooting at them. Two separatists were killed and several others were injured in the incident.
An injured separatist identified as Salomina Kalaibin was later dead in Sele Be Solo Regional Public Hospital in Aimas village. Salomina Kalaibin was a member of Isak Kalaibin`s group. ***2***