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Jakarta Post

Mixed reaction to autonomy law review

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Bogor, West Java   /   Wed, January 29, 2014   /  09:30 am

The government said Tuesday it was finalizing the draft revision to the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law for the resource-rich region.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and a number of his senior ministers met with Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and West Papua Governor Abraham O. Atururi on Tuesday, during which the Papuan officials submitted a report on the latest political and economic developments in the two regions.

The meeting was also attended by representatives from the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD), the Papuan People'€™s Assembly (MRP) and Cendrawasih University.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said the review of the law would yield improvements to the forestry, maritime, energy and transportation sectors.

Djoko, however, stressed it was also important to quell armed movements in Papua. '€œThe two efforts must be parallel,'€ Djoko said after the meeting at Bogor Palace.

A recent series of shootings in Puncak Jaya regency, Papua '€” believed to be the work the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) '€” injured two Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers.

Djoko, however, said: '€œThere is no longer a military operation,'€ and the incident was the work of criminals.

Lukas, who said his office had tried to initiate reconciliation measures, also played down the incidents.

'€œWhat is happening now is a group of people '€” whom I regard as criminals '€” committed crimes and asked for demands [...] They are not fighting for independence,'€ Lukas said. '€œNot every inch of Papua has conflict. [And] conflict does not occur because [they] want independence, but because of local issues.'€

Abraham agreed, saying they did not want independence. '€œPapua is Indonesia; we declared our independence once and forever.'€

Djoko declined to comment on whether or not the existing law would be totally overhauled, arguing it was merely a draft which he expected to be ready by the next two or three months. The new policy is known as the '€œspecial autonomy plus'€.

Last week, during a European Parliament Subcommittee hearing on Human Rights in Brussels, Belgium, three activists, two of whom are Indonesian, raised concerns about the unresolved human rights cases in Papua and the limited access foreign journalists and NGOs experienced.

They called on the EU to put pressure on the government to uphold their commitment to a dialogue with Papua.

One of the activists, Zely Ariane from the Jakarta-based National Papua Solidarity (Napas), slammed the governors'€™ claims.

'€œSuch claims are hard to be verified as there are numerous armed groups in Papua. But, we can be sure that law enforcers are often not transparent and simply label them OPM. In this context, human rights violations often occurr, particularly since there is no press freedom.'€

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) documented 22 cases of threats and violence against journalists in Papua in 2013 alone.

Zely said, if passed, it would not improve the welfare of Papuans, but would follow the same path as the existing law, which is considered to have failed to significantly improve the welfare of indigenous Papuans.

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