Activists say Jokowi's Papua visit only to bolster image, will bring no benefits

Suara Papua – October 6, 2021
President Widodo shopping for noken in Sentani, Jayapura – Undated (Istimewa)

Agus Pabika, Jayapura – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's visit to Papua to officially open the National Games (PON XX) and officiate a number of infrastructure projects are ceremonial and will not provide any benefits to the ordinary Papuan people when cases of human rights violations are left unresolved.

This assessment was made by former political prisoner and Papua activist Ambrosius Mulait in response to Widodo's visit which he sees as nothing more than image building in the eyes of the ordinary people and the international community.

"Jokowi came simply to bolster his image, he didn’t' come with the genuine intention of resolving human rights", Mulait told Suara Papua on Wednesday October 6.

Mulait said that the Indonesian government appears inconsistent in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic because it is allowing crowds to gather at National Games events.

"We are questioning the Jokowi administration's inconsistency, why given the state of the pandemic in Papua are they continuing with PON activities involving thousands of people? It's surprising, Covid-19 cases are already rising, but all of a sudden the figures are deemed to be falling and the PON can be held", he said.

The secretary general of the Papuan Central Highlands Indonesian Student Association (AMPTPI) also criticised the repression and violence by police against Papuan students demonstrating peacefully in front of the United States Embassy in Jakarta on September 30.

"The police are also racist in their handling of Papua mass actions. Meanwhile they weren’t repressive towards a demonstration at the KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission office] several days ago, and instead gave them space [to demonstrate]", he explained.

Based on these facts, Mulait believes that the state it truly unfair in its treatment of Papuans.

"The Papuan people continued to be silenced by repressive means, peaceful actions are broken up, protesters are arrested, labeled separatists, jailed. They way they are handled is very discriminative and racist", asserted Mulait.

Similar feelings of disappointment were raised by Papua student activist Semi Gobay who said that President Widodo has already visited Papua nine times but not one case of human rights violations has been addressed let alone resolved.

"At the height of the PON XX, he came down to look at noken [traditional woven baskets and bags] made by mama-mama [traditional Papuan women traders]. But the internally displaced people in Nduga and Maybrat, the shooting cases in Puncak, Intan Jaya and the Star Highlands are not dealt with by the Indonesian government under the authority of President Joko Widodo", said Gobay.

This, according to Gobay, further demonstrates the real face of the government.

"The president comes and visits and buys lots of noken, but the many conflicts in Papua are not resolved. What's behind all of this? The Indonesian government has no good intentions towards us. All the best in celebrating the PON on the sorrows of the West Papuan nation", he asserted.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tidak Selesaikan Kasus Pelanggaran HAM, Jokowi ke Papua Hanya Cari Muka".]