Nowadays many of us non-Papuan Indonesians do not hesitate to express how we “love” Papua, especially since we are disturbed by more and more international exposure of the situation in Indonesia’s easternmost province.
United Nations high commissioner of human rights Navi Pillay’s recent statement on the serious crackdown on peaceful demonstrations across Papua, the opening of a West Papua Organization office in Oxford, the Sydney Morning Herald’s investigation into the removal and Islamic reeducation of Papuan youth and children, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s consideration of West Papua’s request for membership, are examples of such exposure.
However, not all Indonesians love Papua.
Torture and extrajudicial killings against Papuan civilians, Papuans being detained as political prisoners for exercising their freedom of expression, starvation in remote areas that has killed many locals, or dozens of mining workers trapped and dying at mining site of a powerful gold mining company, seem to be “normal” events in Papua, so many Indonesians do not find it necessary to show sympathy and solidarity with their fellow Papuans. Fewer Indonesians feel the need to raise their concerns and immediately push for any solution to the ongoing violence in Papua.
Papua and Papuans are seen as two separate entities. Papua refers to a geographic area, one third of which for decades, has been part of Indonesia. It is perceived as a place with enchanting panoramic views, inhabited by people with distinct cultures and rituals and blessed with rich natural resources.
Contrary to that, in the eyes of many of Indonesians, Papuans are seen as the dark side of Indonesia. The region terrorizes us with images of cruelty, rebellion, ungratefulness and an inability to modernize. It turns our love into unease and suspicion, which often leads to rage and hate.
When images of those killed or tortured are shown widely in media, especially social media, many see this as a type of propaganda by separatist groups.
When Papuans have the opportunity to express in formal and informal forums their grievances and resentment, many judge them as being dishonest individuals who are aiming at nothing but secession from Indonesia.
When some Papuans commit criminal acts, they are seen as the perfect representation of already constructed stereotypes of “uncivilized Papuans”. Similarly, when special autonomy (Otsus) eventually failed to bring welfare to most people in Papua, Papuans themselves were considered responsible for the failure.
Many even turn a blind eye to the fact that Papuans have become a minority in their own land, with more and more migrants arriving to get economic benefits from Otsus money.
Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X in his speech in Jakarta recently suggested that the government build trust with Papuans before holding any dialogue. A crisis of trust also seems to be the problem of any healthy and constructive communication between non-Papuan Indonesians and Papuans.
Our possessive “love” of Papua hinders our willingness to understand Papuans, to listen to their stories and commit to defending their rights. We resist accepting the Papuans’ image of themselves. There are no Papuans, because Papua is Indonesia. Papua is us, even though in reality Papuans are always seen and treated as the other.
I would argue that what we feel about Papua is not love. It’s infatuation. Genuine love requires detailed knowledge of the other, said sociologist Thomas Scheff explaining his theory of “runaway nationalism”.
In contrary, infatuation needs only the appearances, or what is constructed, of the other. It does not matter whether it is real or not, it is the other that we see, we hear, we imagine. It is a self-generated fantasy and socially amplified. And the shallow understanding of nation and nationalism is an effective tool to amplify negative feelings toward others into orgies of hatred.
For this infatuation, Papua is considered an object, a given entity destined to be part of Indonesia, whether it is true or false. Any space for Papuans to be heard, not only by themselves but also by other external parties such as the United Nations or international communities, has become deeply subversive because it questions the very essence of our infatuation.
Perhaps this is why the government is always reluctant to open any two-way traffic of communication with Papuans in a peace dialogue. Such a dialogue would open the possibility of reinterpreting and even deconstructing Papua and Papuans as the other and us, Indonesia and Indonesians. The shortcut to making sure the status quo remains has been chosen: a developmental and militaristic approach, whether Papuans like it or not.
It is obvious that Jakarta can no longer love Papua and Papuans in just and right ways, but Indonesian people can. A small number of civil society elements in Indonesia, mostly non-governmental organizations and students, have done so much to strengthen our genuine love toward Papuans, but more love is needed.
Acknowledging Papua as a subject in itself is the first step. The next step will be to create more spaces for Papuans to be heard and for us to hear and understand the situation with big hearts. Genuine love requires not only a detailed knowledge of the other, but also, most importantly, trust in one another. The writer teaches and researches political science at the University of Indonesia and is pursuing a PhD at Australian National University.
2) Freeport Indonesia Needs Permission to Resume Mining: Energy Minister
Workers refuse to return to work until investigation is complete, union says
US gold and copper mining company Freeport Indonesia has to get permission from the government before it resumes operations following the collapse of its underground tunnel in Big Gossan, Timika, Papua recently, a minister said on Friday.
“Underground mining is not yet allowed, they are waiting for the result of the investigation. If they want to open the mine, they should ask permission from me,” Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said.
But he added that it doesn’t mean that the government would instantly approve a request from Freeport to resume mining activities. The government, he said, would need to analyze it first, calculating the risks against the government’s potential revenue.
He said that he would also consider whether it was better to leave Freeport’s employees with nothing to do or to allow them to continue mining activities but only for the open pit.
However, a union that represents 18,000 of the more than 24,000 workers at the mine said its members would not return to work until investigations into the accident were complete.
Union spokesman Virgo Solossa told AFP the decision was in line with Freeport policy to halt operations following accidents while probes were still ongoing.
“We also feel that the people under investigation, such as the head of underground operations and other managers, should be sent home so they don’t interfere with investigations,” he said.
Separate probes by the government and the company into the accident are being carried out but there has as yet been no indication what caused the tunnel to cave in on May 14 as 38 workers underwent a safety training session.
Solossa estimated the probes would likely take between one and two months.
Freeport said on Tuesday that open-pit mining and milling operations had resumed.
“As for operations at the open-pit mine and the mill, we have restarted on May 28, 2013, and are slowly ramping up our operations,” a statement from the company said.
Maintenance work was currently under way at the underground operations, which were also shut down after the tunnel cave-in, Freeport added.
In the days following the accident that left 28 dead, Freeport said it had enough stockpiles to meet existing orders.
The president director of Freeport Indonesia, Rozik B. Soetjipto, however, said that the decision to stop the underground mining operations was not made upon the government’s order.
“It’s our own decision … it’s not related to whether we’re allowed or not,” Rozik said.
3) Socratez Yoman: The Government Invented Indonesian Papua Conflict
Published On Friday, May 31, 2013 By Oktovianus Pogau. Under: NATIONAL EDITORS CHOICE. Tags: AMP, BOOK, CHURCH, Military / Police
A demonstrator holds a banner reject Indonesia in Papua (Photo: knpbnews.com)
PAPUAN, Bandung - Chairman of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Papua (PGBP), Pdt. Socratez menengaskan Sofyan Yoman, the conflict in Papua is not a horizontal conflict, but the vertical conflict, namely the conflict between the people of Papua with the Indonesian state.
"All conflict in Papua, Indonesia was created by the government to destabilize the situation in Papua. See, from time to time continued human rights violations committed by the army / police, "Yoman said, while presenting the material in a seminar held by the Papua Student Alliance (AMP), the 15th Anniversary AMP, which was held at Wisma Parahyangan, Bandung, West Java, on Thursday (30/5).
Yoman asserts, indigenous people must build good relationships and rapport with anyone, so that the issue of human rights violations in Papua internasonal knowable world, and has the support of the wider community.
"We all know that Indonesia has failed to clicking-Indonesiakan Papua, because it is very appropriate that the Papuans demanding self-determination for the people of West Papua. Currently the world already know the demands of the Papuan people, "he said.
Yoman also the occasion to invite young people of Papua to improve the quality of education, in order to continue to resist the occupation in Indonesia by means of dignified and berintelek.
"I also have younger siblings of students continue to write to tell anyone about the situation in Papua. I am also currently in the process of writing a book titled "Is Indonesia dub Papuan Nation?", By writing we will continue to live, "said Yoman who has written 15 other books.
Meanwhile, Herman Katmo from National Papua Solidarity (BREATH) in his presentation invites all struggle movement in Papua, and outside Papua to unite in order to fight against colonialism and oppression in Papua.
"We must unite, and urged the world's nations and international occupiers to recognize Papua as a sovereign nation. Ptersatuan so we need right now, "said Karmo.
After four principal speakers presented their thoughts, followed by a discussion and question and answer, which is followed with great enthusiasm by all participants.