Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta -- In the aftermath of the violent clashes between Papua citizens as a result of the creation of the new province of Central Irian Jaya, Papua students in Yogyakarta have called for the [decision to] divide up the province of Papua be immediately annulled. As well as this they asked the government to take responsibility for the physical clash in Timika.
“As well as demanding that the government take responsibility [for the clashes], we also urge President Megawati to revoke Presidential Instruction Number 1/2003 on the acceleration of the formation of the provinces of West Irian Jaya, Central Irian Jaya and East Irian Jaya”, the chairperson of the Yogyakarta Papua High School and University Students Association Evendi Payohwa told journalists following a joint prayer meeting at the Cendrawasih student dormitories on Jalan Kusumanegara, Yogyakarta on Friday (29/8).
They were of the view that the policy of dividing up the province of Papua into three parts is not appropriate at this time. Based on the population size of Papua which in total is only 2.3 million people, [the numbers are] far too small and not sufficient [to warrant such a division]. This would mean that each province would only have around 750 thousand people. “And if the government insists on dividing up Papua in stages, we will continue to reject this because the division of the Papua province is not the solution”, he said.
Payohwa explained that the government and the People’s Representative Assembly must immediately make amendments to Law Number 45/1999 on the division of the Papua province because at the time the law was promulgated it was written in interests of the politicians rather than to improve the prosperity of Papuan society. “The conflict the other day is factual evidence that Papuan society is truly the victim of a horizontal conflict”, said Payohwa.
Meanwhile Jaek Wanggai from the Joint Papuan Students Secretariat added that since 1969(1) until now, there have been at least 20 legal instruments produced by the government on development policies in the province of Papua, however the resulting [laws] have overlapped each other. As a consequence, the Papuan people have been hurt. At the same time this proves that the central government is acting in a discriminating manner, that is it is not serious in advancing [the interests of the people of] Papua.
Wanggai explained that if the government does not revoke Presidential Instruction Number 1/2003 and make amendments to Law Number 45/1999, Papua students in Yogyakarta are threatening to mobilise the Papuan people to boycott the 2004 general elections. As well as this, they are demanding a referendum be held for the people of Papua which includes three options, that is the division of the province, special autonomy or independence. (bgs, zal)
1. Known as the “Act of Free Choice”, in 1969 a referendum was held to decide whether West Papua, a former Dutch colony annexed by Indonesia in 1963, would be become independent or join Indonesia. The UN sanction plebiscite, in which 1,025 hand picked tribal leaders allegedly expressed their desire for integration, has been widely dismissed as a sham. Critics say that that the selected voters were coerced, threatened and closely scrutinized by the military to unanimously vote for integration.
[Translated by James Balowski.]