A New Hope For Papua

Dr.Neles Tebay,Pr
(TEMPO, January 25, 2015)

DESPITE the shootings that killed five Papuans and five members of the Police in December 2014 and January 2015, the Papuans in general are entering the new year with hope for peace in their ancestral land of Papua.

The hope for peace was raised by President Joko Widodo through his first presidential visit to the western half of New Guinea island on December 27-29, 2014. Because of the visit, Papuans can stay strong and keep working for peace in the midst of conflict. Let us highlight how President Jokowi has raised new hopes for Papua.

President Jokowi declared that Papua should become a land of peace. “We want to create Papua as a land of peace,” said the president. This means that Papua should be transformed into a territory where all its citizens, whoever they are and whatever their backgrounds, live a peaceful life.

Papua as a Land of Peace should not be mistakenly interpreted as a reflection of today’s realities on the ground. Peace has not yet reigned in Papua as some economic, social, cultural and political problems remain unsettled. But it is the dream of the Papuan society, which must struggle to realize it.

Papua as a Land of Peace must serve as the guiding principle as well as the end result of all policies and activities implemented in Papua and West Papua provinces. Development in all aspects of life, initiated by individuals, groups, governments and non-governmental institutions, should be carried out to create peace.

Conflicting interpretation on Papua as a Land of Peace could bring about conflict and tension among different parties. Therefore President Jokowi along with Papua citizens should share a common understanding of this concept. They should reach an agreement on the economic, environmental, social, cultural, educational, health care, political, governmental, security and human rights perspectives and indicators, relevant to Papua.

These should cover what problems must be addressed for the sake of peace, what should be the solutions to the identified problems and what contribution can be offered by which stakeholder.

Therefore there is a great need to have a serious discussion and consultation among all the stakeholders to come to a common understanding on these indicators.

Papuan citizens, both indigenous and migrants, should not simply be expecting, let alone begging, from people outside of Papua to help formulate and dictate these indicators pertaining to Papua. They should be the ones to take the initiative in holding the discussions. In fact, they should be the first and the main party to be fully responsible in determining peace indicators in Papua.

Therefore, the whole process of discussion on Papua should be initiated in Papua, by Papuan citizens. Each and all Papua citizens should be involved in making the indicators on Papua.

It is important for the government to provide a safe place and environment for all stakeholders to be involved, freely and without fear of intimidation, in the discussions and consultations.

Once they are able to reach an agreement, formulate and determine the indicators, they will be able to identify what actions are needed, what contributions are expected from each stakeholder, to create a lasting peace in Papua.

Secondly, President Jokowi has shown the way to create lasting peace in Papua. From his public statements during his visit, it is clear that development is greatly needed if peace is to be achieved in Papua. Papua will not have peace if development is ignored. Therefore, the President emphasized the need to carry out development in all aspects of life, such as education, health care, infrastructure and so forth.

While strongly refusing violent conflict, President Jokowi emphasized dialogue as a dignified way of attaining peace, not by violence, killings, tortures, and other forms of human rights violations. The President encouraged all parties not to resort to violence in solving problems in Papua. He promised that he will listen to peoples’ voices and engage in dialogue with them in order to attain peace in Papua.

President Jokowi believes dialogue is the medium with which to raise trust between the people and the government, encouraging governors and regents in Papua and West Papua, the police chief and local military commanders to have more dialogues with the people. The President is fully convinced that it is only through dialogue that problems can be identified and jointly-agreed solutions can be achieved. He himself is willing to listen more to Papua citizens and therefore he promised to visit Papua three times a year.

Thirdly, President Jokowi emphasized the importance of unity and the involvement of all stakeholders in working for peace in Papua. The stakeholders include religious leaders, Papuan tribal leaders, leaders of each non-Papuan ethnic group, women and youth leaders, local and central governments, the military, the police, multinational and national private companies exploiting the natural resources in Papua, Papuan rebels in the jungle as well as in diaspora (Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Netherlands, UK, USA and Vanuatu).

President Jokowi has invited all parties to be united and work for a peaceful Papua. “Let’s be united. To those who are still living in the jungle and those who live in the mountains, let us be united to build a peaceful Papua. Let us begin trusting each other so that we can talk to each other in a fresh and peaceful environment,” he said. Certainly, an inclusive mechanism is needed to provide room and space for each group of stakeholders to discuss and produce their collective contribution towards peace.

The president has brought new hope to Papua. Papuans can look forward to 2015 with the expectation that the conflict in their land can be settled through peaceful means, namely through dialogue and development.



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