Sunday, May 24, 2015

1) Jokowi humanizes Papua

2) Perpetual battle for Papua
3) Papuan churches want Jokowi  to do more


1) Jokowi humanizes Papua
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made a breakthrough when he allowed foreign journalists to freely enter Papua. With this announcement being declared on World Press Freedom Day, many considered it the victory of press freedom over a security approach, which had long been in place in Papua. This is intelligible considering the recent jailing and subsequent release of two French journalists in Papua.
Donny Syofyan, Padang, West Sumatra | Opinion | Sun, May 24 2015, 12:12 PM -

Yet Jokowi’s announcement is not merely a matter of press freedom. Rather, it should be viewed as his humanitarian approach to Papua. Opting for openness proves he is friendly toward democracy.

Global criticism of real conditions in Papua will enrich perspectives and create ways out for the interests of local residents. Providing more opportunities for international reporters to explore Papua will bode well for Jokowi overseas compared to the leaders of powerful countries known for their affirmative and unjust policies.

In the short term, the President’s bold decision could face sharp domestic criticism since it shows Jokowi’s lack of political strength in the face of worldwide pressure. However, in a long run, Jokowi will have a more durable legitimacy following global recognition of his approach to Papua. The President’s recent visit to Papua and West Papua could be testimony to his enthusiasm for Papua.

With foreign journalists given more room to enter Papua, they may serve as objective spokespersons of Papua’s transformation. Jokowi will later on be perceived as promoting universal humanism as opposed to propaganda when it comes to moving toward Papuans.

Many relate his intrepid policy to his skilled international observations. Seen from his prior notions of international issues — calling for Asian-African countries not to rely on international monetary institutions, ordering foreign vessels involved in illegal fishing in Indonesian waters to be seized then blown up, and refusing to grant clemency to foreign drug convicts — Jokowi is trying to set an alternative international trend.

Looking at Papua, underpinned by his concern about the international mind-set, Jokowi applies so-called historical deconstruction. This emphasizes Jokowi’s gradual efforts to shift the perspective of Papua from the source of exploitation, be it state or private, to the target of empowerment.

Rather than solely pouring money into local governments, Jokowi comes up with real infrastructure developments with direct benefits for the people. The deep-rooted perception that Papua is to do with natural resources per se must be dismantled in favor of a empowerment-based approach. Infrastructure developments such as the Trans Papua highway are expected to secure more domino effects on poverty reduction.

Jokowi’s empowerment approach to Papua looks to stem from his understanding that no single country can escape the poverty trap and be a new power by relying on international financial aid alone.

Spellbound by the success stories of newly industrialized countries, mostly in eastern Asia, Jokowi has faith in self-reliance and confidence as the key to escaping inequality, destitution and injustice. Jokowi disposes of a philanthropy styled development, as was the last government’s policy toward Papua.

In the context of international cooperation, the involvement of foreign journalists witnessing Papua’s transformation serves to retain a civil liberty over a security approach. Not only does this contribute to Jokowi’s profile abroad, but foreign journalists might also reduce mounting international pressure on Indonesia for a Papua referendum.

Foreign journalists being free to arrive and work in Papua is more than enough to prove that security is no longer an issue in the country’s easternmost province. By opening Papua, Jokowi is proclaiming to the international community that he is confident there is nothing to hide there.

Allowing foreign media in is the right move to weaken the push for independence in the region. Pictures of brutality of Papuans that appear daily in social media outlets are expected to decrease, along with the journalists’ candid reports of Jakarta’s humanitarian approach to Papuans.

Change for the better not only requires cooperation between the people of one nation. What matters equally is teaming up with outsiders of the same vision. Both are tied to wisdom.

The writer is a lecturer in the school of cultural sciences at Andalas University, Padang.


2) Perpetual battle for Papua

Despite strong hopes for liberalisation under President Jokowi, the people of West Papua are fighting an uphill battle.

OF late, I’ve been coaching my son as he prepares for the IGCSE history exams, and we have been revisiting many fascinating phases of history.
While the impact of some phases of history is no longer that relevant, it’s clear that many nation-states in the 21st century are still feeling the after effects of the colonial era. I guess the very fact that I’m an ethnic Indian writing this article in English and living in Kuala Lumpur can be traced back to the British colonisation of both India and Malaya.
Colonisation took place in many forms, I’d say. Even the spread of a religion can be colonisation. What better way to get a local population to submit to foreign rule than to get them to accept your God? With it, natives accept the language and customs of the purveyor of the new religion until their own identity has been buried in the rapture of following a new deity.
In practical terms, it’s a conquest without a war. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu summed it up as such: “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Aside from the collusion of religion and colonial authorities, one can’t help noticing how modern conflicts have been shaped by the whims and fancies of administrators. For example, the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafra conflict) basically erupted as a power struggle between the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani and Igbo, three large tribal groupings which found themselves in the same country because all had been administered by the British. And lest we forget, the formation of Malaysia has its roots in uniting British territories across the South China Sea.
One of the more unfortunate scenarios involves the state of West Papua in Indonesia. At the time of independence, Indonesia’s president Sukarno welded the various islands that had been under Dutch rule into a unified nation. While Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bali, Sulawesi and the rest had both commonalities and differences with the dominant Javan island, West Papua (known then to the Indonesians as Irian Jaya) was practically a different world.
Sharing a massive island with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea, West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia as a province after a dubious vote was taken in 1969. Culturally, its people are from aboriginal tribes, with genetic links to the various peoples of the South Pacific, not the rest of Indonesia.
West Papua, which has abundant natural resources, has the misfortune of having a small population. Opponents of West Papua’s absorption into Indonesia believed that the natives have just traded one colonial master for another.
Three years ago, I did a lengthy article with a colleague about West Papua. This was soon after the killing of independence leader Mako Tabuni. When the liberal President Joko Widodo assumed office in October 2014, there was hope that he might finally overturn the dismal human rights situation that was alleged by groups working in West Papua.
I say alleged because access to West Papua has been strictly controlled for all these years. Journalists have had to apply to the Indonesian government even to enter. While places like Aceh and Timor L’este (which even got independence) have experienced an opening-up, West Papua is still a vast dense mystery.
In the last two weeks there have been some truly positive signs from Jokowi. In conjunction with his visit to Papua, his office has clarified that foreign journalists are now free to visit the region. More importantly he released five men widely believed to have been political detainees, who were jailed after a raid on a weapons depot in 2003.
Yet just on Thursday, reports of the Indonesian military rounding up peaceful Papuan protesters in the capital of Jayapura were being circulated. The protesters, mildy emboldened by Jokowi’s visit, are asking for West Papua to become a full member of a regional Melanesian group. Are we experiencing “one-step forward, two-steps back” again?
At a time when human rights violations around Asean are making global headlines, maybe it’s time to look at a dire situation that had gone under the radar for many decades. I truly hope that the tide will turn for the people of West Papua.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

3) Papuan churches want Jokowi  to do more
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sat, May 23 2015, 5:31 AM -
Representatives from churches in Papua say the central government has not done enough to protect the rights of indigenous people there, despite President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s recent visit to the restive province as part of efforts to foster peace.

The Ecumenical Forum of Papuan Churches said the government had also not been sincere in its reconciliation efforts in Papua.

The leaders of the organization said the recent decision to grant clemency to five political prisoners in Papua was not as it seemed.

“Prior to the move, several presidential staff forced the prisoners to sign clemency letters. And the clemency was conditional,” priest Dorman Wandikmbo said on Friday during a discussion held at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

Dorman said the five Papuans were told that they would be freed if they did not create further tension that could create instability in Papua.

“They were told not to talk anymore about human rights, freedom, separatism and so on,” he said. 

Dorman said the prisoners preferred to remain inside prison rather than have their freedom of speech limited.

“It’s better for them to remain in prison than to be free but deprived of their rights.”

In a bid to promote peace in Papua, Jokowi visited the province early this month, when he granted clemency to five political prisoners in Jayapura.

The five Papuans, who had the remainder of their prison terms waived, were convicted of breaking into a military base in Wamena in 2003.

Three of them, Apotnaholik Lokobal, Linus Hiluka and Kimanus Wenda, were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while the other two, Numbungga Telenggen and Yafrai Murib, were sentenced to life.

Jokowi said the granting of clemency was carried out as part of conflict resolution efforts in Papua.

During his visit, the President also announced that he would open up access to the Papua region for foreign journalists and international organizations.

Fellow priest Benny Giay said Jokowi’s pledge would likely ring hollow, as several of his subordinates had hinted that foreign journalists still had to meet certain conditions before being allowed to enter the region.

Benny referred to a statement of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno and the Papua Police, which indicated that “foreign journalists still have to go through a numer of special procedures”.

“They will also be escorted by members of the military,” he added.

The government earlier said that foreign journalists no longer had to seek special permission from the Foreign Ministry to report on Papua.

Over the past decade, journalists reporting on the province have had to fill out forms requiring approval from a number of government institutions. Failure to do so would be met with criminal charges.

Jokowi went to Papua as part of his five-day visit to several provinces in eastern Indonesia, which has long been considered the country’s underdeveloped region, despite its abundant natural resources.

Separatist groups in Papua have complained that the central government has given the province an unfair share of wealth, after it became part of Indonesia in 1969. (alm)
“They were told not to talk anymore about human rights, freedom, separatism and so on.” - 

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