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  • Melanesia in Review: Issues and Events, 2013Papua
  • Muridan S Widjojo (bio)

In 2013, the Indonesian government faced the increasingly complex political challenges of separatism in Papua as well as the internationalization [End Page 506] of Papuan issues. The government’s approach of trying to promote the welfare of the people of Papua along with security concerns has not made any headway. The political and security situation in Papua worsened as the government grew increasingly repressive and less transparent. The deteriorating human rights situation was also reflected in the rising number of political prisoners and detainees.

Amid the conflicts, the lack of trust among various strategic stakeholders and the political opportunism in Jakarta and in Papua have fostered manipulative exercises in a proliferation of administrative regions as well as fraudulent and disruptive regional elections. These current practices have plunged the local government into administrative and public service crises, resulting in the neglect of the people’s welfare.

During the year, a bold attempt was made by Governor of Papua Lukas Enembe to resolve the Papuan problem by introducing for the first time the idea of the Otonomi Khusus Plus (Special Autonomy Plus, also known as Otsus Plus), which was to be derived from a revision of the Autonomy Law of 2001. Detailed later in this review, the new bill was supposed to offer comprehensive answers for the fundamental problems in Papua, though the broad participation of Papuan people and full support from Jakarta would always be required for it to succeed.

One can learn from the experiences of the Papua Peace Network (ppn) in creating public consultation and in building support from various parties in Papua and Jakarta. Lukas Enembe might succeed with Otsus Plus if a civilized and honest dialogue approach is adopted. But no matter how exemplary the substance of Otsus Plus may be—or that of any other propositions to solve the Papuan problem, for that matter—unless the process truly involves various stakeholders, particularly those in the opposition, no resolution is likely to succeed. Such involvement is essential for any result to be acknowledged as legitimate.

The year 2013 should also be seen as a special one for the eradication of corruption in Papua and West Papua. Compared to the previous period, over the course of this year the government made a serious effort to eradicate corruption through the hard work of Police Chief of Papua Tito Karnavian, who established an Anticorruption Force, and Chief Prosecutor of Papua E S Maruly Hutagalung, who made a breakthrough by prosecuting many officials involved in corruption. All the legislative and executive officials involved, from the highest to the lowest ranks, were put on trial. This also shows that corruption in the two provinces has been very prevalent, from the village to the provincial level. This year, law enforcement efforts as well as findings of corruption have increased significantly.

The government believes that the essence of the problem lies in the welfare of the Papuan people. Their view is that if they can manage to improve the people’s welfare, then Papuan aspirations for independence will fade. Therefore, the government has been fully exploiting resources for “accelerated development,” for programs categorized as “quick wins,” and for projects with high political value. Their intentions were revealed [End Page 507] in the incredible amount of “autonomy funds” (totaling nearly 40 trillion idr by 2013) and other disbursements flowing from the central government to Papua and West Papua. (One us dollar is approximately 11,338 Indonesian rupiah [idr].) The establishment of the Unit for Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (up4b) and some breakthroughs in the coordination of socioeconomic development further affirmed the government’s vision.

Concerning the freedom of expression, the government is of the opinion that, even if carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner, rallies voicing aspirations for Papuan independence should be categorized as acts of treason under articles 106, 110, and 116 of the Criminal Code (kuhp). In Papua, Regional Chief of Police Tito Karnavian also applied Law 9/1998 and Law 12/1951. The police chief confirmed that demonstrations raising the issue of Papuan independence are prohibited because they do not support national unity. This...


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