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  • Initiating a Peace Process in Papua: Actors, Issues, Process, and the Role of the International Community
  • I Nyoman Sudira (bio)
Initiating a Peace Process in Papua: Actors, Issues, Process, and the Role of the International Community. By Timo Kivimaki. Policy Studies 25, Washington: East-West Center, 2006. Softcover: 83pp.

The August 2005 Helsinki Peace Agreement for Aceh demonstrates to all of us, especially the Indonesian Government, that a peace process for conflict in Papua is possible and needs to be actualized. The author, Timo Kivimäki, has scrutinized the possibilities for dialogue in order to find the formulation to promote the peace process for the conflict in Papua. Inspired by the achievement of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or Aceh Peace Agreement, Dr Kivimäki attempts to examine the possibilities of starting a peace process by promoting the process of dialogue. Through a comprehensive study of the context, construction and violent episodes of the conflict, followed by an identification of the actors involved, this book contends that, with the Aceh model in mind, dialogue as a first step towards a peaceful resolution of the Papua conflict is possible.

The author begins his book by identifying the two secessionist forces in Papua: the traditional militant fighting groups on the one hand, and the ideology-based, more democratic, less violent secessionist groups on the other. At the start of the book the author also examines different conceptual insights pertaining to conflict in general as well as those factors affecting its dynamics. The author applies several key concepts as a tool for conflict analysis. For instance "deviations", "enemy perceptions" and "violence" specify that there has been an enemy perception within the Papuan community as a result of which Papuans see Indonesians and Asians as belligerent, arrogant, intolerant, and fanatical. From their perspective, Indonesians see Papuans as remnants of the stone-age because of their tribal clothing and nakedness. It is an undeniable fact that deviations and enemy images between Indonesians and Papuans have motivated a prolonged conflict that has been coloured by violence. The author goes on to analyse the possibilities of realizing a peace dialogue. In this regard, the author focuses the study on deciding which actors and institutions should be involved in a future dialogue. The author argues that the actors who may be relevant to a Papuan peace dialogue would be those with collective political, religious, cultural or social agendas. Therefore, the actors that should be involved in the dialogue are: 1) pro-Indonesian forces; 2) members of the resistance movement, such as OPM (Free Papua Movement) and the new type of resistance groups such as human rights organizations, environmental groups, Christian organisations; [End Page 380] and 3) other constituencies such as private companies and donor communities operating in Papua.

After representative actors have been identified and discussed, the author examines the grievances at the core of the violent dispute between supporters and opponents of Indonesian rule. This analysis is perhaps the best part of this book. In order to study the grievances, Timo Kivimäki classifies the groups into two categories: those that are directly linked to people's (sometimes egoistic or particularistic) motivation to use violence against the other group and those who share collective motivations for the entire Papua. The former motivation relates to loyalty to something: a parish, tribe, gender role or subjects. The latter is more fundamental, as it forms the context for the overall dispute about integration and separatism. Systematically, the writer starts with the "tolerable level of grievances", for instance: individual, collective, historical, general political grievances, and moves on to the core or "intolerable" grievances like specific political grievances, security grievances and economic grievances. It is interesting here that the discussion regarding grievances reveals several important facts that demonstrate the shaky legal basis of Indonesia's rule in Papua. Therefore, historical mistakes cannot be the foundation for decisions on Papua's future.

Dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict is not, as the author points out, a new thing. A dialogue process was begun in 1998, though it has not yet yielded any concrete results. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has put Papua firmly on the government's agenda and defined his...


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pp. 380-382
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