Jokowi needs to learn from Gus Dur on Papua question

Pikiran Rakyat – August 20, 2019
Gus Dur in Papua – Undated (Istemewa)
Gus Dur in Papua – Undated (Istemewa)

Muhammad Irfan, Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Yati Andriani is calling on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to learn from Indonesia’s fourth president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid in how to deal with the problems in Papua, including the flying of the symbolic Morning Star flag.

According to Andriani, if during a protest action the Free Papua Movement (OPM) flag is flown in a way that it not anarchistic and in accordance with the law, it should not be criminalised.

“Even if the [Morning Star] flag is flown and it doesn’t do any harm, doesn’t use violence, then it should not be treated as criminal act, or be criminalised in any way. I think that Jokowi should learn from Gus Dur, who allowed the Morning Star flag [to be flown]”, she said at the Kontras offices in Central Jakarta on Tuesday August 20.

According to Andriani, the banning of the OPM flag in Papua should not be equated with the perspective in Jakarta because the central government in Jakarta should listen to the aspirations of the Papuan people there.

“This is a Jakarta perspective right, about nationalism, NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] being non-negotiable, but they close their eyes to what the people want”, she said.

Andriani also said she deplores an earlier statement by Widodo asking the Papuan people and students to forgive those who besieged the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya which ended in the riots in Manokwari, West Papua province, on Monday August 19.

Kontras believes that Widodo should apologise to the Papuan people.

“Prior to this incident, there have been many cases of prohibitions and restrictions on political, economic, social and cultural rights, which the Papuan people are not afforded. This all points to an important thing, the complex issues in Papua, so the president’s approach of just stating that we should all forgive each other, is a statement that is inadequate to respond to the problems that are happening in Papua”, said Andriani.

Name and flag

In a statement meanwhile, the coordinator of the Gusdurian Network, Alissa Wahid, said that during his life Gus Dur, both as an ordinary citizen and as a leader of Islam and the country, provided a good example of concern over the situation in Papua.

Gus Dur consistently prioritised dialogue and the involvement of non-formal figures such as ethnic and religious leaders using the principle of participation, non-violence and justice.

Gus Dur’s restoration the name Papua as the region’s official name (previously it was called West Irian) and allowing the Morning Star flag to be flown as symbol of pride and cultural identity for the Papuan people were just part of this approach.

“This model needs to followed as an example. So, the Papua people are no longer treated in a discriminatory way, listen to their aspirations, respect their humanitarian dignity”, said Wahid.

On these grounds, the Gusdurian Network strongly condemns the unjust treatment and hate speech, as well the siege, attack, intimidation and violence against the Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang.

The Gusdurian Network is also asking the police to protect all Indonesian citizens from the threat of violence based on ethnicity, the colour of their skin and religion.

“We are also asking the police to stop all forms of persecution which conflict with the law and HAM [human rights], as well as upholding the law against those to violate it including those who commit hate speech”, she said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jokowi Harus Belajar dari Gus Dur Soal Papua”.]