Letter: Treat Papuans like other Indonesians

The Jakarta Post | Wed, 11/02/2011 8:55 AM

I just got back from West Papua. During my one-week event at Raja Ampat and Sorong, I was totally amazed by its breathtaking scenery, my heart was touched by its people.

But as a non-Papuan I could easily feel what they felt. How the people of West Papua are given so many promises but in the end “abandoned” by their own leaders.

I’ve seen the infrastructure, accommodation and its development. Then I did several interviews with local people, asked their opinion about their government, what they really wanted for their future as Indonesians.

A 46-years-old wood carver answered my questions: “We’re Papuans and we’re Indonesian, we have those rights like you non-Papuans who live enjoyable lives in your modern cities.

I believe you have seen the differences between my city and your city. You can easily find the difference about how the people are treated by our central government.

If you asked us what we wanted, the answers are quite simple. We want our government to treat us like their own citizens, as Indonesian, their own brothers. We want these violations to end as soon as the government can allow it; no more deaths caused by violence.

We want infrastructure; show us your commitment and your will to end this situation.” Even though he’s just a wood carver, I do believe his answers represent the answers of all Papuans.

Almost all separatist conflicts were caused by political, economic and social injustice. The rights of the people of Papua are “relatively deprived” by their own brothers.

Peacekeeping and peacemaking processes are easy, but the real solution is how we “build the peace”. Both economic and political solutions are needed.

The term “war” seems too extreme to be used. They are our brothers, not our enemy. We should learn from our history with Timor Leste. Our founding fathers fought the Dutch for Papua, now it’s our turn to fight injustice for Papua.

Eduardus (Eduard)

Wednesday, November 2nd 2011


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