Jokowi must apologise, not ask Papuans to forgive years of racist abuse

Pojok Satu – August 20, 2019
Kontras Coordinator Yati Adriyani (RMOL)
Kontras Coordinator Yati Adriyani (RMOL)

Guruh Permadi, Jakarta – The coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Yati Andriyani, believes that the statement by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on the riots in Papua was totally inadequate.

According to Andriyani, Widodo’s appeal for the Papuan people to calm down and contain their anger will not in any way resolves the existing problems.

“The president just saying that we should forgive each other isn’t enough to responded to the problems in Papua”, said Andriyani at the Kontras offices in Jakarta on Tuesday August 20.

Andriyani said that the president should issue an apology for the racism against Papuan people.

“Actually we want the president as the head of state to apologise for the acts of racism and discrimination against the Papuan people”, she asserted.

Also, Widodo must ask law enforcement officials to fully investigation the insults and humiliation against the Papuan that took place in Surabaya and Malang, East Java, on August 17.

“A statement that whoever was involved in the incident will be punished, but there was not such (statement)”, she continued.

Andriyani also deplored the president’s attitude of asking the Papuan people to forgive the racist actions by ormas (social or mass organisations) and law enforcement officials in Surabaya and Malang.

“Moreover all he did was ask the Papuan people to forgive and be forgiven. Yet it’s the Papuans who are always the victim”, she reiterated.

According to Andriyani, the government must prioritise persuasion and dialogue to overcome this problem.

The actions of security personnel who arrested the Papuans at the student dormitory in Surabaya were a repressive act which triggered the riots in several parts of West Papua province.

“A persuasive approach, dialogue must be opened, this must be done. [The problem] can’t be [overcome] by a closed security approach, with arrests, detentions”, she said.

Based on Kontra’s research, discriminative and repressive actions against Papuan occur more frequently than against any other ethnic groups.

The clearest example of this discrimination is the prohibition on protests by Papuan students both in the land of Papua as well as other regions.

“This problem demonstrates again that there is indeed an impression that there is still some difference [in the attitude] towards the Papuan people because of their race as Papuans”, said Andriyani.

Andriyani is convinced that the riots that occurred in the West Papuan cities of Manokwari and Sorong were a result of an accumulation of injustice suffered by the Papuan people.

The riots that broke out were like a time bomb that was about to explode.

“Once again there is a relationship between the injustice and discrimination against Papuans. If feel that up until now the Papuan people have been very patient”, said Andriyani. (ruh/pojoksatu)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “KontraS Salahkan Pernyataan Jokowi Soal Papua”.]