Jakarta rally rejects creation of new administrative area in West Papua

Suara Papua – November 4, 2013
AMP students rally against creation of new administrative districts in West Papua - November 4, 2013 (Suara Kolaitaga)
AMP students rally against creation of new administrative districts in West Papua - November 4, 2013 (Suara Kolaitaga)

Oktovianus Pogau, Papuan, Jakarta – On Monday afternoon scores of youth and students from the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) held a peaceful demonstration at the House of Representatives (DPR) building to declare their opposition to the creation of 33 new operational areas (DOB, new administrative areas) in Papua.

Elias Petege, one of the speakers said that the majority of ordinary people in Papua and West Papua provinces do not want the creation of 33 new DOBs, including three new provinces, as agreed to recently by the DPR.

“The creation of 33 DOBs in the land of Papua will not answer the problems. We explicitly reject this plan. The DPR must cancel the RUU [draft law] that has been drafted”, said Petege in a speech in front of the DPR building.

According to Petege, with the creation of new administrative areas, it will in fact allow for the establishment of more military complexes such as district military commands, battalions, sub-regional military commands and sectoral, district and regional police administrations, which will proliferate and threaten the existence of indigenous Papuans.

“We explicitly call in the DPR and Commission II [overseeing regional autonomy] to cancel the plan. The [political] elite who are working for this decentralisation are in fact seeking money, jobs and positions, not for the interests of the ordinary people”, asserted Petege.

“Decentralisation will further marginalise the Papuan people. Right now the population of indigenous Papuans and non-Papuans are the same, what will happen is there is decentralisation. Migrants will continue to flow into the land of Papua, and of course Papuans will be further pushed aside from their own traditional lands”, said Jigibalom.

According to Jigibalom, decentralisation in Papua will only destroy the identity of indigenous Papuans and further open up opportunities for military businesses.

“We are not convinced that decentralisation is in the interests of indigenous Papuans. Decentralisation will be a disaster for indigenous Papuans and because of this we strongly oppose the plan”, said Jigibalom in a speech.

Satisfied with giving speeches in front of the DPR, at around 11.30am the protesters continued the action at the offices of the Ministry of Home Affairs (kemendagri) on Jl. Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta.

In front of the home affairs ministry, the protesters, who came from Jakarta and the West Java cities of Bandung and Bogor, again declared their opposition to the creation of 33 new DOBs.

Frans Tomoki, one of the speakers, called on the home affairs minister (mendagri) not to accept the DPR recommendation for the decentralisation of Papua because it was decided unilaterally and is in the interests of the political elite.

“At the DPR we called on Commission II to withdraw the RUU creating 33 DOBs, and here at the kemendagri we are calling on the mendagri to reject the unilateral creation of new regions. The majority of Papuan people have explicitly rejected decentralisation” said Tomoki.

Tomoki added that decentralisation would in fact give rise to new conflicts between local communities, including between the people and the central government.

“Already there are many examples of new regencies that have failed. And always end with tribal wars, this is a consequence of the creation of new regions that are done without coordination with local communities”, asserted Tomoki.

After giving speeches for around 30 minutes, representatives from the protesters were invited to meet with several home affairs department officials and to present their position and demands. After meeting for around 1 hour, the representatives left the home affairs ministry offices. Action coordinator Jhon Wakerkwa then read out a statement and the protesters disbanded peacefully.

[Tolak Pemekaran, AMP Demo ke DPR RI dan Kemendagri – Suara Papua. November 04, 2013. Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]