The following is a translation of a press release by 17 West Papuan organisations that have launched a Papuan People’s Petition (Petisi Rakyat Papua) to oppose the government’s discussion on renewing Papua’s Special Autonomy Law (Otsus) which expires next year.
Responding to the deliberations on the continuation of Special Autonomy Chapter II, some 17 organisations have declared their opposition to Otsus and have launched the Papuan People’s Petition to garner support for this throughout the territory of Papua. They are asking all parties discussing the Otsus to return it to the Papuan people to decide on its future.
A press conference on the issue took place through teleconferencing which was facilitated by Tabloid Jubi through senior Papuan journalist Victor Mambor. All of the representatives of the organisations were given time to convey their position on Otsus. After proceeding for just five minutes, the Tabloid Jubi Facebook page was attacked and on several occasions the conference was stopped or removed from the website. The press conference was then continued through YouTube.
Opening the press conference, the Papuan Traditional Council (DAP), through Traditional Administrational Region III head Samuel Awom, said that the DAP’s position is already clear that it rejects Otsus. Awom said he deplores the fact that groups funded by the state have distorted the situation in Papua today in order to ensure the continuation of Otsus. For example, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) special committee and the House of Representatives (DPR) have never consulted with or listened to the wishes of the Papuan people.
The DAP stated that in all traditional Papuan regions none of the cases which have befallen the Papuan people have ever been resolved; the people have been excluded and not involved in any of the discussions. Awom said that starting now traditional communities throughout Papua can no longer be allowed to be deceived and ensnared, but must actively take part in taking initiatives and promoting the Papuan People’s Petition together.
The next speaker, West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo, said that the basis of the unresolved conflict between West Papua and Indonesia is the 1969 UN sponsored referendum on West Papua’s integration with Indonesia known as the Act of Free (Pepera) and the reality and hopes of the Papuan people under Indonesia. The KNPB rejects the team formed by Jakarta to discuss Otsus which is opportunist and taking advantage of Papuan people to reach a unilateral compromise.
According to Yeimo, for 12 years the KNPB and the Papuan people have demanded a peaceful and democratic solution through a referendum, but up until now Jakarta has taken the option of law enforcement and security. This is evidence that the state has no interest in peacefully resolving the Papuan conflict. The KNPB will monitor the Papuan People’s Petition as a genuine representation of the position and aspirations of the West Papuan people to be able to determine their own future. Yeimo is calling on the Papuan people to make the petition a success and support unity through the Papuan People’s Petition.
The third speaker meanwhile was United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Director Markus Haluk who stated that Otsus was not born out of compassion, beneficence or kindness by Indonesian colonialism for the Papuan nation but rather was a consequence of the Papuan people’s demand for independence. In response to this, Jakarta unilaterally gave Papua Special Autonomy, which to this day has in fact been a tool of Indonesian colonial occupation in West Papua, and has not improved the situation.
So if Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo says that the government has already given Papua 97 trillion rupiah in Otsus funds and will continue this then this is just part of the propaganda and public lies and an effort to legalise the civil and military occupation of West Papua. “Because we are being systematically wiped out on a massive scale so the ULMWP has been garnering international support from Melanesia, the Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean to push for an act of self-determination”.
The next speaker, Papua Student Alliance (AMP) Chairperson John Gobay, stated that Otsus was given along with the label of separatism, not because Indonesia wanted to develop Papua but in order to quell separatism. The law, the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Polri (Indonesian police) have been deployed during Otsus only to secure access for capital. Otsus and all of its policies are simply to maintain colonialism in Papua. As a consequence the Papuan people have almost begun to disappear. From the start the AMP has demanded the right to self-determination as a democratic solution. Gobay said that the Papuan people today are fighting for Otsus not to be continued. Looking at the demonstrations which began last year, the Papuan people are speaking out demanding a referendum on self-determination, not a continuation of Otsus.
Following on from this, Alva Rohrohmana from the Papuan People’s Youth and Students Movement (GEMPAR-Papua) stated that Otsus is not a win-win situation but a political sweetener by Indonesia for Papuan in order to cover up its crimes and put a cover on the Papuan people’s political manifesto for its sovereignty. We assert that Otsus has failed. Every study proves that that there have been no achievements from Otsus. So now the issue should be returned to the Papuan people, do the people want a referendum or are they asking for sovereignty, all of this should be returned to the Papuan people.
Next, Dewo Wonda from the Papua Democratic People’s Movement (GARDA-P), said that to this day human rights violations continue to occur. GARDA opposes Otsus Chapter II and wants the issue to be immediately returned to the Papuan people to determine their own future. We at GARDA reject Otsus and demand that a referendum be held in Papua.
Papua National Youth and Student Solidarity (SONAMAPPA) Chairperson Claus Pepuho stated that based on surveys and widespread opposition by the Papuan people since the start of Otsus, they explicitly reject the continuation of Otsus because it will not resolve the conflict in Papua and demand to be given the immediate right to self-determination as a democratic solution. “We strongly condemn the Papuan elite who are maneuvering with Jakarta to continue funding Papua Otsus. We reject the DPD Special Committee team which is acting in the name of the Papuan people and demand the immediate withdrawal of the statement with the Minister of Home Affairs which declared its agreement with the extension of Otsus funds”.
Meanwhile, Arnold Yarinab from the West Papua Independent Student Forum (FIM-West Papua) said that Papuan officials in Jakarta are using the issue of Free Papua as a bargaining chip in the Otsus discussions. Yet the reality is that killings, the theft of traditional land and other abuses continue. The impact of this will be even worse if we accept Otsus Plus. So the FIM-West Papua rejects the Otsus and demands a referendum for the Papuan nation.
West Papua National Authority (WPNA) Secretary General Marthen Manggaprow said that there is no future for developing Papua within Indonesia. Right from the start Indonesia has shown itself to be a coloniser. The WPNA and the West Papuan people will continue to fight for self-determination. “We explicitly reject Otsus and the Papuan people have a clear position that the Papuan people want self-determination over the land of Papua”.
Sayang Mandabayang from the Papua Students and Youths National Front (FNMPP) stated that Otsus is not a solution to resolve the conflict in Papua. Accelerating development is also not a solution, because the roots of the problem are political and historical so the FNMPP explicitly rejects Otsus Chapter II. Second, they are calling on the Indonesian government to allow a UN fact finding team to investigate human rights violations and the political history of Papua. Third, calling on the Papuan people to reject Otsus because it will only create space for exploitation in Papua. They are also calling for solidarity from the ordinary Indonesian people to reject Otsus Chapter II. “We reject the special committee which in the name of Papuan’s traditional children supports Otsus. We also to convey to the Papuan people that they should not dream of Papuan being prosperous within the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), because after 20 years Otsus has been proven to have failed”.
Benny Magal from the Independent Traditional Communities (MAI) said that Otsus and the PT Freeport gold and copper mine in Timika cannot be separated from each other. Traditional communities have been marginalised. Land has been taken over by companies. “In Timika our bodies exist but our souls are dead. The military is in control. Toxic mine tailings are destroying us. All aspects of life are controlled. There are no guarantees of traditional community rights... We reject Otsus and call for Freeport’s closure”.
Papuan Traditional Traders Association (APAP) spokesperson Maikel Kudiay said that hopes of economic advancement do not exist. Under the context of Otsus there is no special regulation on market mama-mama (traditional Papuan women traders). Otsus was thought to be a right to determine the people’s future but there has been no development whatsoever. So our position is that after 20 years of Otsus’ failure, now it should be returned to the Papuan people, to the market mama-mama, to all community groups in Papua, all elements. “Give the people the freedom to determine their own future”.
According to Yohanes Giay from Green Papua, colonialism and global capitalism has accompanied Otsus where it was born out of the blood of the Papuan people. Otsus is controlled by Jakarta’s puppets. Otsus results in forests being felled, traditional communities marginalised, exploited. Jakarta maintains control through vehicles or actors which destroy Papua’s natural resources. Today this conflicts with colonial interests so today there is no other way. The Papuan people must take their political right to control the economic resources in Papua. “So we reject the political representatives promoted by a small handful of people in Jakarta”.
Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) spokesperson Surya Anta declared their support for the Papuan People’s Petition to oppose Otsus because Otsus is not self-determination. Otsus will not resolve the basic problems, namely the manipulation of political history, genocide, racial discrimination, environmental destruction, exploitation and militarism in Papua. There is nothing special about Otsus in Papua because the Papuan people are prohibited from expressing themselves, silent demonstrations are banned. The Papuan people are not free to display their political identity despite this specialness. All of the laws and political policies are in the hands of the government in Jakarta. So Otsus is just a rubber stamp, because in economic, political and social terms decisions remain in the hands of Jakarta and its apparatus of violence.
The Otsus government in Papua does not have any special authority, meaning it cannot regulate nor have any power over what is done by the TNI and Polri in Nduga, Timika and other places, because of this we call on non-Papuan society to join and become part of the struggle for Papuan liberation. We call for a Papuan people’s conference, which will include non-Papuan elements, in order to create a unity which cannot be separated from the struggle.
This joint press conference was held as an initial consolidation of the Papuan people’s movement and organisations to unite and declare their position to the Indonesian government in Papua, Jakarta and the International community through the Papuan People’s Petition. The 17 organisations below invite more social organisations to join with and support the Papuan People’s Petition. This petition will take place through the territory of Papua.
Information and the latest updates on the Papuan People’s Petition can be found at
@Facebook: Petisi Rakyat Papua
@Twitter: Petisi Rakyat Papua
@Instagram: Petisi Rakyat Papua Barat
The Papuan People’s Petition:
1. KNPB (West Papua National Committee)
2. AMP (Papua Student Alliance)
3. GEMPAR-P (Papuan People’s Youth and Student Movement)
4. GARDA-P (Papua Democratic People’s Movement)
5. SONAMAPPA (Papua National Youth and Student Solidarity)
6. FIM West Papua (West Papua Independent Student Forum)
7. WPNA (West Papua National Authority)
8. FNMPP (Papua Students and Youths National Front)
9. SPMPB (West Papua and Melanesian Women’s Solidarity)
10. MAI (Independent Traditional Communities)
11. APAP (Papuan Traditional Traders Association)
12. LEPEMAWI Timika (East Mimika Concern Foundation)
13. AMAN (Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance) Sorong
14. BABEOSER BIKAR
15. ULMWP (United Liberation Movement West Papua)
16. GP (Green Papua)
17. DAP Traditional Region III (Papuan Traditional Council)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the statement was “Tolak Otsus, 17 Organisasi Luncurkan Petisi Rakyat Papua”.]