Australian academics and researchers have raised concerns, in a letter sent to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, about a recent fatal shooting in Sorong, Papua.
They said the shooting, perpetrated by the Indonesian security forces, of a group of Papuans marking the 50th anniversary of the transition of power in Papua from the United Nations to Indonesia highlighted continuous conflict in the region.
“It is our responsibility to protect civilians, particularly in our region, against any state brutality. West Papua is not far away from us. They are literally at our doorstep,” they said in the letter made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Therefore, they said, they urged Minister Carr to request the Indonesian authorities to hold accountable all those who were involved in the attack.
“We appeal you to publicly support President Yudhoyono’s willingness for peace dialogue with Papuans as a way to find a peaceful solution for West Papua in the long term,” it said.
The letter's signatories include Camellia Webb-Gannon, a visiting scholar at Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney; Francesca Merlan, a professor from Australian National University (ANU)'s School of Archaeology and Anthropology; Rebecca Monson, a lecturer at College of Law, ANU; Budi Hernawan OFM, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at ANU's Regulatory Institutions Network; and Peter King, a professor at West Papua Project, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.
The incident occurred on April 30 when a joint patrol of the Indonesian police and military fired shots at a group of Papuans who were gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the transition of power from the UN Temporary Executive Administration (UNTEA) to Indonesia on May 1, 1963.
Two locals – Abner Malagawak, 22, and Thomas Blesia, 22 -- were killed in the incident while Salomina Klaibin, 42, died later in hospital. Two others – Herman Lokmen, 18, and Andreas Safisa, 24 – suffered serious injuries but survived.(ebf)
Your comments on the government’s statement objecting to the establishment of the Free West Papua (OPM) office in Oxford, UK, on April 28, although the UK government said it did not represent the country’s policy:
The government has been so busy dealing with political parties nowadays and West Papua has been out of talks. It seems we will be missing another part of our land. Robinson Elohansen
Your editorial is right in that some of the problems in West Papua are because of the exploitation of the natural resources with little or no benefit to the West Papuan people and Jakarta should be ashamed by the chronic poverty and lack of education available to West Papuans.
However, your editorial misses the point in stating “the solution to the nagging problem of Papua rests solely with policymakers here in Jakarta”.
It should actually rest with the Papuan people. In West Papuan history they have never had a real say in their own affairs.
The so-called act of free choice was a farce and the New York Agreement was between Indonesia and the Netherlands.
The problems in West Papua won’t be solved by another version of the autonomy package, which is simply a bid by Jakarta to stave off the Papuans’ aspirations for self-determination.
It rests in the empowerment of the Papuan people to decide their own future. It’s time for Jakarta to hold dialogue with representatives of the West Papuan people. Joe Collins Sydney
The Indonesian government’s reaction to the opening of the OPM office in Oxford and the subsequent support it got from some political corners of British society is, as usual, a sign of the government’s double standards regarding issues of “separatism”.
The Indonesian government puts all its diplomatic forces at its disposal to support the Rohingya Muslims, accusing the Myanmar government of discrimination or the Israeli government of Palestinian oppression.
Maybe we should recall the Dutch Parliament’s reaction and their stance when Indonesia proclaimed and fought for its independence in 1945 to realize how that colonial mindset has gripped the Indonesian politicians of today.
If in their own country they can be intimidated, persecuted, tortured and killed for political beliefs it is no wonder they will seek a country that allows them to speak freely about their beliefs and political wishes.
Indonesia purposefully avoids labeling calls for an Islamic state an act of treason against the state because that would mean ending up putting millions of “Indonesians” on trial.
It is “safer” to put some GAM, OPM, RMS flag fliers in jail for decades than tackling the more obvious and numerously supported rot this country is experiencing.
The Indonesian government would do well to listen closely to its own citizens, especially those in remote areas with flags of their own, so to speak, where more and more are convinced of their status of secondary citizens when it comes to origins and religion.