JAYAPURA CITY - The Papuan Presidium Council (PDP) has urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to release political prisoners in Papua and West Papua and revive a commission for truth and reconciliation to show his political commitment to solving the Papua issue peacefully.
“If this is done, Papuan people will believe that President Jokowi has a strong commitment and there will be a good outlook for a peaceful settlement to the issue. But if he gives only a promise it means he will not solve the problem,” PDP secretary-general Thaha Alhamid said on Friday in Jayapura, Papua.
The PDP made the call in line with Jokowi’s plan to attend a national Christmas celebration in Jayapura on Dec. 27. The President is also scheduled to inaugurate a number of markets, visit Wamena and hold a meeting with Papuan figures.
“The Christmas [event would provide] good momentum for President Jokowi to offer a peaceful solution to the Papua issue by introducing it in persuasive and elegant ways,” said Thaha.
He admitted he was deeply concerned over Papua province, which has been frequently marred by bloody violence.
“President Jokowi should not only officiate the markets, attend the Christmas celebration or other things. Papua has had many major problems since 1961 that have been left unresolved until now,” he said.
He acknowledged he was surprised when the President once said that a bigger part of the Papua issue was triggered by the way Jakarta — referring to the central government — had treated the country’s easternmost province.
“It is an interesting statement from a president-elect. If you don’t believe it you can confirm it with the chairman of the Papuan Biblical Christian Church Synod. If the President wants to attend the Christmas celebration here, he should come to the people and it should not be politicized for numerous reasons, as he has previously come to the province twice,” Thaha said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Thaha said the Papua issue would not be resolved as long as Jakarta saw Papuan people as an enemy, separatists, silly, criminal, lazy and alcoholic.
“Amid the Christmas atmosphere, the President should not be escorted by tanks under tough security. Security authorities should give adequate space for Papuan people to meet and talk to their president, Pak Jokowi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Neles Tebay, a lecturer from the Fajar Timur Theology Institute in Jayapura, called on the President to revive a roadmap for a comprehensive solution to the Papua issue, which was suspended by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono following strong rejection from the Indonesian Military and the National Police.
“This [visit] will be good momentum for the President to hold talks with Papuan leaders and people heart-to-heart, to seek a permanent and comprehensive solution to the unresolved issue,” he told The Jakarta Post by telephone.
The roadmap, prepared by Neles and his team in 2008, contained recommendations on a number of major problems, including Papua’s integration into Indonesia in 1963, settlement of a series of human rights abuses in the province and West Papua, as well as the implementation of special autonomy.
Neles concurred with Thaha and said the core problem in Papua was not money but poor ties and communication between Jakarta and Papua. “We have frequently proposed a dialogue between Jakarta and Papuan people, including those in exile, where the two sides can listen to each other on what should be done to settle the Papua issue. Sincere and honest talks will certainly give adequate space for the two sides to settle the issue in accordance with the roadmap,” he said.
Analysts were of the same view that the poor implementation of special autonomy in the two provinces had a lot to do with Jakarta’s distrust but added that the situation had been used by many officials in the province to abuse their power. [TheJakartaPost]