Govt has been talking to Papuan separatists since December: Djoko
The government says that it has been in talks with the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) since last year — months before the start of the latest wave of violence in Papua that has killed 17.
The talks with the OPM began in December and had not been easy, as members of the group had to be coaxed to “leave the mountains and join society,” Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Air Marshall (ret.) Djoko Suyanto said on Monday.
“The government has continued to approach the OPM by sending a delegation,” Djoko told reporters in Jayapura on Monday as reported by Antara news agency.
The delegation, which includes several high-ranking military, police and intelligence officials, left Jakarta for Jayapura on Monday.
Among the delegation are Djoko, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, Indonesian Military
(TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono, and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano
The government has continued to blame the OPM for the deteriorating security situation in Papua while declining to provide concrete evidence of the group’s complicity in the violence that has wracked the province in recent months.
Police officers, for example, shot and killed Papuan activist Mako Tabuni in Waena on June 14 for allegedly resisting arrest for his supposed involvement in seven violent attacks.
Mako was deputy chairman of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), which supports a referendum on Papuan independence.
Tabuni’s supporters retaliated by setting ablaze dozens of vehicles and properties in the city.
The incident was the latest in a series of bloody incidents involving civilians and security officials.
The delegation from the central government held a closed-door meeting with religious and tribal leaders soon after their Indonesian Air Force Boeing 737 landed at Sentani Airport in Jayapura, Papua, on Tuesday.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Papua Legislative Council speaker Jhon Ibo, Papuan People’s Assembly speaker Timotius Murib and Interim Papua Governor Syamsul Arief Rivai.
Djoko and his entourage then met with members of the Papua General Elections Commission (KPUD).
Local politics have been touted as one potential cause of the renewed violence, following the
postponement of the provincial gubernatorial election.
The officials left Jayapura for Timika later on Tuesday and are expected to arrive in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua, on Wednesday.
Djoko has said his agenda in Papua was part of the government’s commitment to promote dialogue to address the situation in the region rather than stepping up security measures.
Contracted separately, Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said he welcomed the government’s initiative to promote dialogue.
Haris, however, said that the security and intelligence officials had picked the wrong time for the meeting, as many Papuans remained angered, fearful and on edge over the violent attacks.
“Papuans are now psychologically uncomfortable. Papuans are still losing confidence to the
government, particularly following the amateurish actions of the National Police and TNI troops,”