Leaders of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), including Markus Haluk (center) address the press earlier this year. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

ULMWP Leader Calls for Open Discussion With Govt on Papua


MARCH 04, 2016

Jakarta. The leader of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, or ULMWP, on Friday (04/03) called for an open discussion on Papua's issues with President Joko Widodo’s administration.

Markus Haluk called on the government to hold an open discussion on Papua, including about current and past human rights, since an equal discussion between Papuans and the government has not taken place in more than 50 years.

Rather than starting an open discussion with stakeholders in Papua, the government under Joko’s leadership has maintained a repressive approach by placing the military face Papuans, said Markus.

According to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), around 700 Papuans were detained, tortured and killed during Joko’s first year.

“Every effort we made to have a discussion with the government is always suspected to be a move to seek independence,” Markus said at Komnas HAM's office in Jakarta.

“If these kind of processes still continue, I want to ask Jakarta, do they recognize the ULMWP? If no, what’s the reason? And if they do recognize it, what’s the reason to do so?” he added.

Markus and a fellow ULMWP member was detained by police for allegedly establishing an office for the organization in Wamena, Papua, last month.

The establishment of the ULMWP office was believed to be supported by the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which "aimed at seeking international support for Papuan independence, initiated by the Melanesian community."

The OPM has mounted a low-level insurgency for decades in the far-eastern province of Papua, claiming that the central government has given the resource-rich region an unfairly low share of the state's wealth after becoming part of Indonesia in 1969.

Ever since, the OPM has pleaded for international support from the Melanesian community in the South Pacific by forming ULMWP as an institution to represent them in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The MSG's recognize ULMWP as an observer country since 2015, after rejecting a few OPM wings in the past.