Papuan Women Demand Dialog

The Papuan Women’s Group Work is demanding to meet with the central government as an effort to solve fundamental problems in Papua, including human rights violations, corruption, and special autonomy implementation.

“If they were will to dialogue with Aceh, why not with Papuans?” asked Frederika Korayn from the Jayapura Justice and Peace secretariat, Papua, at a national seminar titled “Building Constituency and National Support to Fulfill Human Rights for Women in Papua” in Jakarta yesterday.

According to Frederika, Papua has been integrated with Indonesia for 42 years, yet its quality of life is declining. She cited 80 percent of Papuan women fall in the category of absolute poverty, while the education and health quality index is way below other provinces.

Moreover, the population growth in Papua has been declining since 1971, which stands at only 1.5 percent or around 1 million people. She compared it with Papua New Guinea, whose population growth increased by 10 percent or 7 million people within the same period of time.

Frederika also said that the Special Autonomy Law needs to be reviewed because it did not benefit Papuans, particularly since its implementing regulations never appeared. “We have urged them, but they would not listen,” Frederika said. “To us, the special autonomy is the same as normal autonomy.”

Another Papuan Women Group Work member, Hanna S. Hikoyabi, said there may be a more strategic way other than the Special Autonomy Law. She supported meeting with the central government to find the best solution. “We don’t want to lose our trust in Indonesia. Therefore, we are asking for a dialog,” said the Papuans Council deputy at the seminar.

Yenny Rosa Damayanti from the Indonesian Legal Aid & Human Rights Association (PBHI) in Jakarta said the unsuccessful attempt in solving human rights and political issues in Papua is caused by people’s opinion on Papuans. “Because they have different skin color and hair, we feel like they are ‘the others’, not family,” she said at the seminar. She then asked each Indonesian to redefine Indonesian people. “Are they just the Malays? Or are they Muslims?”.

Another reason, Yenny said, is that people apply a double standard on the military. Everyone rejects the military in civilian areas. Yet, they are not serious about ending militarism in Papua.



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