Papuan Referendum Demand Isn’t A Good Way Resolving Papua’s Problems

Papuan Referendum Demand Isn’t A Good Way Resolving Papua’s Problems
Hundreds of Papuan Students conducted a rally promoting separatism in Jogjakarta (5/8) Source :

Papuan pro-independence leader Filep Karma has called on the government to hold a referendum on independence for the country’s easternmost region. Filep, a former political prisoner of 11 years, claimed the long-demanded referendum was a win-win solution for both the government and the Papuan people, who still suffered from mistreatment and abuses despite the region being granted special autonomy status.

“The referendum would provide a fair mechanism for Papuans to decide for themselves whether they wanted to remain as part of the unitary state of Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) or wanted independence”, Filep said. “We used to fight for separation, but now a referendum is better to find out the true aspirations of Papuans. If they want to still be a part of Indonesia, why should [Papuan rebels] continue to struggle for independence?” Filep told the journalists on Tuesday.

Should the referendum result in Papuans wanting to remain Indonesian citizens, the rebels would stop demanding for separation, Filep said, however, the government should also promise Papuans a peaceful transfer of independence if the referendum showed otherwise.

Filep went on that in 2008, when he was still imprisoned, he had sent a letter to then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, demanding a referendum. Papuans also had long-awaited dialogue with the government over the referendum plan, even though President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had given the green light, Filep said.

Not Good Idea

Filep Karma’s statement is not a good idea because a referendum demand for Papua doesn’t demand from all of Papuan. I think all of Papuan are happy their quality of life has been changing under Jokowi’s administration, because Jokowi’s has a briliant solution to resolve Papua’s problem.

I think Jokowi’s intention to build Papua through an infrastructure development and human development has been supported by all of Papuan, because they need to move from under development situation. An infrastructure development program in Papua could be opened Papua’s territory from longlasting disadvantaged situations, and its will open various job increase demand in Papua too.

I think Filep Karma’s notion is reflected OPM’s distress or OPM’s hopeless itself, because their struggle to separate Papua from Indonesia has been responding with prosperity program by Indonesian government under Jokowi’s leadership. Filep’s notion has been drawn that the ability of OPM’s to launch their pshysical attack or political attack to Indonesia was decreased.

Actually, so far OPM’s struggle in Papua and Benny Wenda in abroad had been made everlasting sorrow and unhappiness feeling for all of Papuan. Furthermore, Papua’s youth generations, tribe’s leader and women’s leader in Papua have understood about Papua’s problem related with global, regional and national contex. They will be sure that Papua’s problem including human rights abuse in Papua didn’t bring to an international court or need to foreign intervere because its could be happened as impacts from longlasting conflict era di Papua which one of perpetrators could be blamed were OPM and their allies in Papua or other provinces including their funder’s from foreign state actor or non-state actors.

Forget the Referendum

Jokowi-JK’s intention to build Papua is unquestionable, so that the people of Papua should bury away the desire of referendum raised by ULMWP, KNPB, PRD and AMP. The central government dialogue with the Papuan people should be carried out, but not in the sense of demanding a settlement to resolve Papua issue through referendum, or even foreign involvement.


The Indonesian government is clearly not happy with the attitude of the government of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and other small states, which have “helped” the Papuan separatist, and it would make sense if Indonesia cut diplomatic ties with these countries, if they continue to help ULMWP.

Rather than constantly discuss the referendum, the people of Papua, especially the younger generation, had better directly involve in economic, education, and social development that is intensively conducted by Jokowi in Papua. Papuan community must make sure that the current administration is very concerned on Papua and West Papua. So, do not easily get provoked by separatist elements in Papua and West Papua.

*) Wildan Nasution is an Indonesia strategic issues observer. Residing in Batam, Islands Riau Provinces.

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