Papua Sees Better Economy, but Stagnant Politics, Security: Expert

Students from the Indonesian Peoples Front of West Papua (FRI) participating in a protest rally in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Dec. 1. The group called on the government to better support the people of West Papua and to distribute more funding and development to the region. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)

By : Edo Karensa | on 1:39 PM January 12, 2017
Category : News, Politics, Featured, Security

Jakarta. Vidhyandhika D. Perkasa, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, or CSIS, said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has made some economic improvements in Papua, but it is still lacking progress in political and security-related matters.

The political and international relations expert said Jokowi had launched a one fuel price police and instituted massive infrastructure projects, including electricity projects in Papua to boost the local economy and improve connectivity, but such efforts must be followed up with improvements in politics, security and international relations.

"It is nonsense to focus on one dimension while overlooking other aspects," Vidhyandhika told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (11/01).

Vidhyandhika underlined how separatist movements have shifted from physical guerrilla resistance to diplomacy with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to secure international acknowledgement.

New diplomacy efforts have been initiated by Papuan students who have studied in other parts of the country or overseas and use savvy internet campaign techniques.

In July, the MSG rejected an application for full membership status by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, a group deemed separatist by the Indonesian government.

"We need more intensive diplomacy to address this situation. The Foreign Affairs Ministry must map where the Papuan freedom issues are being discussed and if needed send diplomats to attend those discussions," Vidhyandhika said.

"The ministry should also invite foreign NGOs, officials and diplomats to Papua for the sake of building trust, like Minister Luhut has done. He invited [former East Timor President] Ramos Horta and American Ambassador [Robert Blake] to Papua," he added.

Vidhyandhika said Jokowi also needs to push investigation of major human rights abuses in Wasior, Wamena and Paniai to gain the trust of the Papuan people.

"It is a good thing to see the president addressing human rights issues, but results remain unclear and doubts have also appeared as the team was managed by the chief security minister. It is difficult to see transparency and independence there," Vidhyandhika said.

Papua has allegedly suffered more human rights abuses than those that are currently being investigated by the government.

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