The Politization and Internationalization of Papua Issues
There are two anticipated moments for the separatist activist of Papua affiliated with the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Those are the proclamation day of West Papua on 1 July 2016 and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit on 14 July 2016 in Honiara, Solomon Island. Both moments are in fact do not need to be followed by the Papuans since the integration of Papua to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) is final.
Responding to both momentums that will be celebrated by the Papuan separatist group, some organizations such as the West Papua National Parliament (PNWP) via its chair, Buchtar Tabuni, have intensely spread the propaganda especially through social media.
Buchtar Tabuni’s propaganda suggests that the MSG summit in Honiara on 14 July 2016 is strategic and helpful to uphold the prestige and the dignity of the Papuans. Furthermore, the propaganda suggests that on 14 July 2016, the representatives of Papuans, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) will be acknowledged as a full member of MSG meaning that the Papuans is now in similar level to other nations in Melanesia. “The world is now keeping eyes and ears to listen to the sincerity of the Papuans to support ULMWP on 14 July 2016. We still have time to hold general consolidation, to close ranks whilst waiting for the commands,” said Buchtar Tabuni.
Many circles in Papua predict that prior to the MSG summit, there will be more propaganda from the Papua separatists groups either by social media, open letters, protests, or pamphlets.
Indeed, the plan to celebrate the proclamation day of West Papua is clearly a politicized agenda created by the Papuan activists especially those joining in the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Local People Parliaments (PRD), PNWP, and ULMWP. Meanwhile, the demand of ULMWP to be the full member of MSG is an instance of the internationalization of Papua issues.
It needs to be underlined that the celebration of West Papua independence or the ULMWP demand will never happen because both are political yapping by the groups that support OPM with final goal to fulfil their own interests.
We must know that the status of ULMWP in MSG summit is only as an observer without any voting rights. Such position is indeed a failure of diplomacy of Indonesia because previously ULMWP was only able to hold protests during the summit without any permission to enter the venue. With its new status as an observer, it can now join the meeting. This is of course a disadvantage for Indonesia.
Should ULMWP become the full member of MSG summit, it is obviously a diplomatic defeat for Indonesia. Therefore, Indonesia will firmly reject the membership of ULMWP because it does not represent the people of Papua. ULMWP is not a state. It is an illegal organization supporting the separatist groups. In fact, Papua is still Indonesia’s legitimate territory, thus the voice of Papua will be represented by the official delegation from Indonesia.
If ULMWP gets the full membership, Indonesia will most likely exit from MSG and cut the diplomatic ties with MSG countries that support ULMWP. Indonesia indeed loves peace, but the dignity and the unity of the republic is the top priority.
Human Rights in Papua Must Not Be Politicized
Human rights issues in Papua are often politicized by many circles. An example of this is an occasion held in a hotel in Jayapura to criticize the formation of a team to investigate the human rights abuse in Papua created by the government.
Many circles wrongly interpret the statement of President Jokowi that the settlement of human rights abuse in the past may not create new problems in the future. This implies that there should not be any politicization and internationalization of the issues.
Apparently, according to a statement from a spokesman of one of NGOs in Papua, some foreign parties were involved in monitoring the human rights abuse in Papua (Australia). This made the settlement in accordance with Act no.26 hard to accomplish. The statement suggested that the Papua issues are now concentrating in South Pacific, thus the Indonesian Government manages to get the influence to the South Pacific countries. This statement vaguely explained that there is foreign subversion in Papua issues that worked through its compadres in Papua.
The only positive statement was delivered by Matius Murib and John Rumbiak. According to Matius Murib, the settlement of human rights issues is a technical problem only time can answer.
“The Indonesian President responded the settlement of human rights issue in Papua by pushing the Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and Security (Menkopolhukam) to move fast. This initiation and attention from the President must be appreciated,” said the Director of Human Rights Protection Agency while adding that the settlement of Wasior and Wamena case is moving towards positive direction.
Meanwhile, Jhon Rumbiak suggested that human rights issues in Papua, both serious and less serious ones, must be categorized in serious human rights violation because it is the job of government to protect human rights.
I believe that the NGOs in Papua and other activists are too early to be skeptical about the investigation team for the human rights abuse in Papua created by the government. In fact, there have been some capable Papuans being selected to be in the team. Therefore, rather that holding protests, the people of Papua can deliver the aspiration as well as give some inputs and data regarding human rights issues in Papua to the Papuan figures in the team.
Last but not least, all circles in Papua including KNPB, ULMWP, PNWP and others must realize that Indonesian Government loves and respects Papua, proven by the acceleration of infrastructure and human resource development in Papua.
*) Herdiansyah Rahman is a Papua observer and an activist at Galesong Institute.