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Jakarta Post

Divided and divisive: Tracing the issue of Papuan self-determination

  • Dian Septiari
    Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, September 9, 2019   /  03:41 pm
The Jakarta Post Image
Some 7,000 people from four regencies in Papua province chant “Papua Merdeka” (Free Papua) during a peaceful march on Aug. 26, while demanding that the government pursue legal measures against those who committed racial abuse against Papuans. (JP/Courtesy of Bonny Lanny)

The recent unrest and rioting in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua have sparked renewed debate on whether Papuans deserve the right to self-determination, just like the people of former East Timor (present-day Timor Leste) did 20 years ago during the independence referendum on Aug. 30, 1999. However, international law experts have warned about conflating independence and separatism in comparing Papua and Timor Leste today. Legal status Papua and West Papua do not have the same rights as the Indonesian province of East Timor did in 1999, when the independence referendum was held. “This is an uninformed view that fails to understand international law [and does] not distinguish [between] the statuses of Papua and East Timor under the legal system,” said Eddy Pratomo, a professor of international law at Diponegoro Universit...