Papua. The Papua Council Presidium (PDP) threw its support behind a plan to bring Yogyakarta’s Sri Sultan Hamengkubowono X to the restive province to mediate talks between Jakarta and an assembly of Papuan tribal, religious and independence leaders.
The council, which represents some 245 ethnic groups in Papua, praised the plan and expressed gratitude toward the sultan for volunteering to mediate this dialog in Papua, where violence has been escalating in recent months. “This is a good political development. The initiative deserves positive appreciation from both Papuans and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,”Thaha Alhamid, secretary-general of the PDP, said in Papua on Friday. “As a cultural leader from Java, the sultan understands that the best way to settle the political dispute [in Papua] is through dialog, not war… I think Papua’s cultural leaders must welcome the noble initiative,” he added.
Indonesia’s central government has historically seen Papuans as “separatists” and “enemies of the state,” Thaha said. It will be important for the Jakarta delegation to distance themselves from this stance, he added.
“That is an old paradigm that has to be left behind,” Thaha said. “[It will only lead] to violence and crimes against humanity.” The sultan who also serves as Yogyakarta’s de facto governor said during a discussion in Yogyakarta last week that he would mediate discussions between the two sides, but only if the Papuans want to hold a dialog. “As long as Papuans recognize the need for dialogs [with Jakarta], Yogyakarta is ready to facilitate them. But this requires the trust of Papuans.
So I will let people of Papua decide on this,” the sultan said.
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives and members of the Papua Legislative Council also welcomed the move.