Reiner Brabar, Sorong – The Papuan public's reaction to the central government's decision to form new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua has been divided with some groups opposing it and other supporting it. This division has the potential to trigger social conflicts.
In a press release on June 28, the group Civil Solidarity Organisations (SOS) for the Land of Papua revealed the facts behind the Papuan public's reaction to the DOBs in Papua. The pro-DOB groups use the argument and pretext of improving social and economic welfare and access to government services. There is also concern that the DOBs will further marginalise indigenous Papuans.
Actions and reactions against the creation of new autonomous regions have been confronted by the state with arrests and prohibiting people from expressing their views in public. Not only that, security forces have also committed violence against people holding peaceful actions resulting in the death of demonstrators.
"There is a great deal of concern that the central government's position of continuing to push through the DOBs without looking at the divisions in society and without looking at the fact of legal violations, violence and human rights, which are experienced by Papuan society, will have the potential to create social conflicts", explained SOS Papua Coordinator Emanuel Gobay.
The fact is that the formulation of the policy of DOBs has already triggered social tensions and anxiety among the Papuan public following the deployment of thousands of military and police troops which have arrived from outside Papua. It is suspected that they have been sent to secure and facilitate the creation of DOBs in Papua.
It is because of this that SOS Papua is asking President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to immediately cancel the planned DOBs which have already triggered social conflicts in the land of Papua.
"The president of the Republic of Indonesia [must] immediately cancel the creation of DOBs in Papua which has already given rise to those who are for and against [the DOBs] for the sake of avoiding social conflicts in accordance with Article 6c of Law Number 7/2012 [on Handling Social Conflicts]. Likewise also for the DPR, immediately halt the [work of the] Special Committee on the Formulation of Papua DOBs which has already created divisions in Papuan society in order to avoid social conflict", the group asserted.
SOS Papua is made up of 10 civil society organisations including the Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the Papua Working People's Network (JERAT Papua), the Land of Papua Peace and Unity of Creation Synod of the Papua Injili Christian Church (KPKC Sinode GKI), the Papua Environment Foundation (YALI Papua), the Papua Human Rights Lawyers Association (PAHAM Papua), the Cenderawasih University Democracy, Human Rights and Environment Student Activities Unit, the Papua Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the People's Earth Heritage Foundation (Pusaka), the Teraju Foundation and the Sorong Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN).
The House of Representatives (DPR) officially enacted three draft laws on the creation of DOBs in Papua at a plenary meeting on Thursday June 30. The three new provinces are South Papua, Central Papua and the Central Highlands provinces.
In response to this, Papua people in Kaimana regency who are part of the Papuan People's Petition (PRP), held a peaceful action on July 4. During the action, the demonstrators urged the government to immediately cancel the DOBs and to revoke the Special Autonomy Law (Otsus).
"The Papuan people did not ask for the DOBs or Otsus", said action coordinator Fando during a speech at the protest.
Unfortunately, not one legislator from the regional parliament was willing to meet with the protesters and hear the wishes of the Papuan people in Kaimana.
In other cities meanwhile, in both Papua as well as West Papua provinces, the PRP has issued calls for simultaneous protest actions against all central government policies which ignore the wishes of the Papuan people. Mass actions are planned to be held next week on July 14.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Demi Redam Konflik di Papua, SOS Desak Presiden RI Batalkan DOB".]