INDONESIA: President urged to appoint without delay team for dialogue with Papua

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is urged to immediately appoint members to a dialogue team in order to intensify dialogue with stakeholders both in the Land of Papua and Jakarta.  The formation of a dialogue team is an urgent need and essential to bring to an end the shooting incidents that have recently occurred in Papua.

President Yudhoyono should select people whose personal integrity is recognized nationally.  It is also necessary for team members to be trusted by the international community and indigenous Papuans.  It is not necessary to involve indigenous Papuans in this team.

Without a dialogue team in place, the commitment of the government to dialogue openly with the Papuan people will be questioned by many parties, and it will also be difficult to prevent shooting incidents in the Land of Papua.

The dialogue team could work with many parties in Papua and Jakarta to facilitate  meetings with stakeholders and produce strategic solutions to various issues, including measures to prevent shooting incidents in the Land of Papua.

According to my calculations, from January to the end of May 2012, there have been 17 shooting incidents in the Land of Papua.  This is an average of three incidents per month.

These shootings will attract increasing international attention after the incident involving a German national, named Pieter Dietmar Helmut (aged 55) by unknown persons.  This case will attract attention as it occurred not in a small town accessible only by light plane or in a remote village.  The shooting did not take place deep in the jungle or the edge of a high mountain.  The shooting of this German national took place in the city of Jayapura, the capital city of Papua Province, and at a location only 400m from a police facility.

This incident is the first shooting of a foreigner in the Land of Papua.  As far as I am aware, in the history of the Papuan people, no Papuan has killed a Westerner in their ancestral land, Papua.  Therefore, the Police must immediately identify the perpetrator of this shooting.

Resolution of these shooting cases – both those involving foreigners and Indonesians – is imperative, in the very least to provide some sense of justice for the victims and their families.  Therefore, I support those Police who are committed to identify the perpetrators of the shooting incidents that have involved a German and Indonesian victims.

Naturally, these shooting incidents impede efforts of civil society in Papua to work to bring about “Papua, Land of Peace.”  In fact, these incidents could extinguish hope of ever bringing about peace in Papua.

These shooting incidents could cause Papuans to question efforts to bring about dialogue between Jakarta and Papua, which are currently underway in Papua, Jakarta and even overseas.

Papuans may come to doubt the will and commitment of the Government of President Yudhoyono to address the situation in Papua through open dialogue.  They feel that, on one hand President Yudhoyono has committed to address the Papua situation through open dialogue.  But on the other hand, shootings continue to occur.

Therefore, it is imperative that the Government not only mull ways to resolve the shooting incidents that have occurred.  But, more importantly, I feel the Government must consider how to prevent such incidents so that people can live in peace in the future.

I regard the shooting incidents not as a problem, but as a by-product of the current situation.  The shootings are only fragments of Papuan situation – a situation that has not been addressed in a comprehensive and complete way.  The Government need not busy itself in addressing these sparks from more fundamental problems.

The shootings most certainly have been triggered by something.  The causes of such incidents have not been identified and resolved, and therefore the shootings continue unabated.  Therefore in my opinion, if these incidents are to be prevented, the factors behind them must be identified and addressed.

This means that the Government should realize that prevention of shooting incidents is not only the business of the Police. Other parties should also be involved in efforts to prevent shootings in the Land of Papua.

I believe that there are nine groups that should be involved in efforts to prevent shootings in Papua.  These groups are: indigenous Papuans, residents of Papua (including associations of ethnic groups living in Papua), local government at the levels of District and Province, National Police, Indonesian Armed Forces, central Government, companies involved in natural resource extraction in Papua, Papua guerillas known as the National Liberation Army/Free Papua Movement  (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional/Organisasi Papua Merdeka – TPN/OPM), and Papuan diaspora living overseas (Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, Australia, Vanuatu).

Each group should be given space to meet, discuss and formulate their collective views on indicators for “Papua, Land of Peace”, the problems that need to be addressed to bring about peace in Papua, and their opinions about possible solutions.  The collective views of each group will be an input for discussions in dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.

Due to the importance of involving all of these groups, increased efforts should be made to engage with each of these nine parties.  This should be done by a team that is strong and trusted broadly.  This team could act as a facilitator for the meetings by each of these groups.

Abepura, June 4, 2012.

Fr. Dr. Neles Tebay
Rector, Fajar Timur School of Theology and Philosophy, Abepura
and Coordinator, Papua Peace Network

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Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-023-2012
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Indigenous people, Land rights,