New government must resolve Papua question democratically and peacefully

PRD – October 21, 2004
New government must resolve Papua question democratically and peacefully (Kompasiana)
New government must resolve Papua question democratically and peacefully (Kompasiana)

[The following statement was issue by the People’s Democratic Party (PRD) following the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla at the national parliament in Jakarta on October 20.]

The new administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla have begun their duties after being officially inaugurated on October 20 and announcing their cabinet lineup the following day.

They are confronted by an accumulation of economic and political problems, issues of democratisation and the people’s welfare which they should begin to resolve though alternative recipes as was promised during their election campaign and Yudhoyono’s inauguration speech.

One of the classic problems of the nation and the question of democratisation is a resolution to the conflict in West Papua. Why is the West Papua (like Aceh) problem classic? Because post the collapse of the New Order regime of former President Suharto in 1998, violent upheavals and human rights violations in West Papua have in fact have increased and become more graphic.

This requires that the new government make resolving the West Papua conflict one of its priorities. Unfortunately however, post Suharto administrations have not attempted to apply alternative methods to resolve the West Papua conflict and as a result the framework and methods which were applied by the New Order regime become a blueprint for subsequent governments (the administrations of Presidents B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri).

The New Order’s methods used an approached based on repression, concentration of military power, secret and intensive intelligence operations and sowing discord within civil society such as the decision taken by the Megawati government to divide Papua into three new provinces.

Alternative methods meanwhile – methods the Papuan people themselves are calling for – are to seek a resolution which priorities respect for the values of human rights, democracy and peace. These should include the broadest possible dialogue with all social and political groups in Papuan society, the withdrawal of all organic and non-organic troops, bring the generals who have committed human rights violations in Papua to trial and allowing the Papuan people to determine their own future by reevaluating the manipulative 1969 Act of Free Choice.

Several times in his first speech as president, Yudhoyono emphasised that a resolution to the conflicts in Aceh and West Papua was a priority for his administration. But exactly how they will be resolved was not explained.

Unfortunately it is already becoming clear that Yudhoyono does not have the desire or the courage to resolved the West Papua question peacefully and democratically. This was nakedly exposed in the speech by the new coordinating minister for politics and security, retired Admaral Widodo AS, when he said of Aceh that they would continue to focus on the integrated military operation even if the state of civil emergency was replaced with a civil administration status (Kompas, October 22). If the same principles are applied in West Papua the hopes for a peaceful and democratic resolution will become no more than an empty promise.

The People’s Democratic Party therefore calls on all elements of the democratic movement in West Papua and throughout Indonesia to immediately begin strengthening, supporting and consolidating efforts to unite in order to be able to effectively pressure the Yudhoyono government to fulfil his promise to resolve the West Papua question democratically and peacefully.

A warning for Yudhoyono’s administration. If it is clear that they are going to use the same methods as previous governments to resolve the conflict in West Papa, then the very thing which gives this new administration its legitimacy – the support and hopes of ordinary people – will collapse in the blink of an eye. This means that the democratic movement must unite and become a springboard to a ensure peaceful and democratic resolution to the conflict in West Papua.

We would also like to take this opportunity to offer our fullest support for the simultaneous actions organised by the Papua Students Alliance (AMP) on October 22. Though these actions, we hope that they will be able to provide an input to the Yudhoyono government to resolve the Papua question and to stimulate and consolidate the unification of other democratic movements to broaden their solidarity in this struggle.

We would like to conclude this statement by expressing our solidarity and support for the people of West Papua and our determination for the creation of a just and democratic society.

Jakarta, October 21, 2004

Central Leadership Committee of the PRD
Arie Ariyanto, division for political, military and national affairs

[Translated by James Balowski.]