Tuesday, July 7, 2020

1) Papuan groups voice opposition to special autonomy status

2) Police hose down Papuan student activists during peaceful rally in Denpasar


1) Papuan groups voice opposition to special autonomy status 
Alya Nurbaiti The Jakarta Post  
Jakarta   /   Tue, July 7, 2020   /   08:30 am

Sixteen groups in Papua have voiced opposition over the potential continuation of its special autonomy (Otsus) status, with the transfer of Otsus funds from the central government set to end next year.
Protesting under a movement called Petisi Rakyat Papua (Petition by Papuans), the groups also demanded a referendum to determine their own fate.
The administration of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri passed a law on special autonomy in Papua and West Papua provinces to guarantee Papuans the right to manage their own region politically, economically and culturally. The law also stipulated the allocation of special autonomy funds, valid for 20 years.

As the transfer of funds will end in 2021, the House of Representatives has included deliberation of Papua’s special autonomy status in this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list.
“The House proposed the bill without discussing it with indigenous Papuans, who are the subject of the bill. Papuans are the ones who get to determine whether they want a second phase of special autonomy or independence,” Victor Yeimo, National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) spokesperson and one of the petition’s initiator, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
The executive director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Markus Haluk, said that even though the ULMWP already had a petition bearing the signatures of 1.8 million Papuans who demanded a referendum, a more recent petition would express their opposition to Papuan bureaucrats who made compromises over the Otsus with elites in Jakarta.
Activist and former Papuan prisoner Sayang Mandabayan expressed distrust over Papuan representatives in the House.
“Enough of the political compromises. We refuse the unilateral [deliberation of the bill] by the special House committee,” she said.
The groups lambasted the Otsus for failing to bring about significant change in Papua and legitimizing colonialism.
“Ever since before the Otsus until today, almost 20 years after the Otsus, racism toward Papuans, land grabbing, military operations, rights abuse, and social and economic inequality keep happening in Papua,” Papuan Students Alliance head John Gobay said.
The government has allocated US$7.4 billion in Otsus funds to grow Papua’s economy. Despite the hefty budget, the National Development Planning Agency noted that Papua was home to almost a million impoverished people and over 6,000 underdeveloped villages. Papua and West Papua also has the lowest human development index in the country, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
A researcher on Papua studies at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Aisah Putri Budiatri, said expressions of opposition to the special autonomy status occurred in 2005 and 2010 when Papuans symbolically returned the system to the government.
“Besides its perceived inability to address the problems in Papua, the special autonomy has weak legitimacy as the deliberation did not include all parties such as the pro-Papuan independence group,” Aisah told the Post.
She added that while the Otsus law was pretty comprehensive as it included regulations related to human rights violations in Papua, there had been a lack of results.
“For example, the government has yet to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR), as stipulated in the law,” she said.
Jayapura city secretary Frans Pekey said that, before deliberation over extending the Otsus law, there should be a thorough evaluation of it and how it had been implemented to determine whether it was effective.
“If it is shown to have failed, we should evaluate and revise it through the existing mechanism. Let’s be realistic, Papua is still a part of Indonesia and Papuans need education, health care and other basic infrastructure to thrive,” he said.
Mandabayang said, however, neither the special autonomy law nor a developmental approach was a solution to racism toward Papuans.
LIPI’s Papua Research Team has since 2009 analyzed the root causes of the conflict in Papua, determining that it all stems from the marginalization and discrimination of indigenous Papuans, development failures, disputes over political identity, the annexation of Papua and violence against Papuans.
“As of today, the government has yet to use dialogue to address the issues in Papua. With the deadline to end special autonomy funds getting closer, now is the time for the President to carry out dialogue to rebuild trust that leads to reconciliation in Papua,” Aisah said.


2) Police hose down Papuan student activists during peaceful rally in Denpasar

Police were said to have used a water cannon on activists during a peaceful rally held by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Denpasar earlier today, along with reports of alleged physical assault against some participants, who were commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Biak massacre.   A number of videos uploaded to Facebook by AMP show moments when the water cannon was deployed, as well as one participant who appears to have been briefly detained. 


“This is the attitude from the country which claims to be a democracy,” a speaker at the rally can be heard in one of the videos seen by Coconuts.   Ni Kadek Vany Primaliraning, who heads the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in Bali said that authorities blocked rally participants, took away some of their protest items and disrupted the masses. She also confirmed that some participants were beaten and were blasted with a water cannon.  “This is excessive, especially because authorities used violence,” Vany said.    Only dozens of people appeared to take part in the rally, which was organized to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Biak massacre, one of several long-standing human rights abuses in Papua that remains unresolved to this day.   Repression is unfortunately common in protests held by Papuans or on issues regarding Papua. 

Last year, AMP activists also clashed with local organizations and pecalang (traditional Balinese security forces) during a similar demonstration that saw some of the former physically assaulted, throughout which police reportedly only stood by and watched.   On July 6, 1998, Indonesian security forces launched an attack against demonstrators who took part in a peaceful rally days prior that saw the raising of West Papua’s Morning Star flag. Eight people were reportedly killed that day while several others were injured, with another three people having gone missing and dozens more arbitrarily detained. Activists also say that around 150 people were tortured and 32 people died mysterious deaths.   This year, one of the protesters’ demands is for the Indonesian state to claim responsibility over the Biak massacre, along with other human rights violations that have occurred in Papua.  Papua was a colony of the Dutch until the early 1960s, when it declared itself an independent nation in 1961. Neighboring Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963 and officially annexed it with a UN-backed referendum in 1969 that was widely seen as a sham.  

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