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Discourse on Jakarta-Papua Dialogue Restarts by Joko Widodo

JAKARTA - After about a two-year hiatus, the discourse regarding the Jakarta-Papua dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the polemics and problems in Indonesias easternmost province has now restarted.

During the term of President Joko Widodos (Jokowi) predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the people of Papua in 2013 repeatedly urged Jakarta to initiate a peaceful, neutral, and transparent dialog facilitated by a third party at a neutral location.

Such a dialog had long been called for, however, until the end of President Yudhoyonos term of office, the dialog was never held.

And now, the discourse regarding the dialog has restarted, with the necessary impetus being provided by the Jokowi Grassroots Volunteers (ABJ), which is encouraging the government of President Jokowi to do so.

In a press statement here on Wednesday, ABJ spokesman Veldy Reynold noted that the formation of a Jakarta-Papua National Dialogue Forum to peacefully solve the polemics in Papua has been re-encouraged.

"Papuas problems should be immediately solved in a fast, precise, and accurate way. Therefore, we require the cooperation of all stakeholders to create an intensive dialog with the Papuan community," he remarked.

According to Reynold, the stakeholders must mutually work to gain a comprehensive understanding regarding the current conditions in Papua, so that no further cases of violence and casualties occur when the government formulates a policy.

In the meantime, senior journalist Rikard Bagun noted that all parties should strive to remove the stigma attached to the people of Papua who are largely viewed as rebels, and instead treat them as equals who love peace.

"It is time to end such form of discrimination, as we and the people of Papua all love peace," he affirmed.

Bagun was optimistic that government policies for solving Papuas problems should have a good narrative, which is acceptable to the people of Papua, since the incorrect use of terms could affect their outlook on the solution to the problems.

In light of this, political analyst Nico Harjanto opined that President Jokowi must adopt a different approach to formulate a policy for the people of Papua.

"For instance, the dialog approach adopted by the president for the people of Papua while releasing five Papuan political prisoners was correct, as there should be no political prisoners in a democratic country," Harjanto noted.

According to Harjanto, such approaches instill new hope in the people, as in this context, the government has positioned itself as a party that is willing to hear the voice of the people of Papua.

Therefore, in response to the ABJ initiative, Harjanto encouraged an effective Jakarta-Papua dialog with a concrete goal.

Meanwhile, presidential special staff member Lenis Kogoya, who is also the chairman of the Institute of Indigenous People of Papua, stated that he was currently working with the president to formulate a stage-wise solution to the problems faced in Papua.

Kogoya noted that the president is highly committed to transform Papua into a land of peace and to solve issues one by one.

He affirmed that any idea proposed by the Indonesian community in order to build the land of Papua, including proposals related to the idea of forming the Jakarta-Papua Dialogue Forum, will be positively welcomed by President Joko Widodo.

Indonesias easternmost island of Papua has abundant natural resources such as gold, copper, silver, and oil.

Ironically, the scarcely populated regions do not seem to be at par with the rest of the country in terms of economic and social development.

In reality, the people of Papua have not enjoyed the fruits of development and feel isolated from the rest of the country.

According to former president Yudhoyonos special aide for regional development and autonomy Velix Wanggai, the injustice felt by the Papuan people with regard to the economic and social gaps was being exploited by the outlawed Free Papua Organization (OPM) by inciting the fight for independence.

He noted that backwardness, disappointment, and dissatisfaction felt by the people of Papua serve as ammunition to incite resistance against the government.

However, the current government is fully aware of the problem and will take steps to reduce the gaps and eliminate the feelings of injustice.

International law and political observer of the University of Cenderawasih (Uncen) Marinus Yaung opined that a peaceful dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is the best possible solution to the problem in Papua.

"We agree that the Papua-Jakarta dialogue will help to solve the problem in Papua," Marinus remarked in Jayapura recently.

He noted that the problem in Papua is not limited to economic and social development; it is a political problem that has to be solved through a peaceful dialogue with Jakarta.

In reality, most of the people in Papua and West Papua are in favor of a peaceful dialog to solve the problems there, and therefore, all stakeholders in the two regions should support the proposed talks. [Antara]

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