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Poor Businessmen

by Alexandra Crosby

8 people have died over the last 2 months in clashes between Papuans and Indonesian security forces. And the headline of the Jakarta Post this morning is ‘Papua Violence Worries Business‘.

The general sentiment is that investors (and the poor Papuans who are lagging behind the rest of Indonesia) are going to miss out on development opportunities because of the violent tendencies of a few protestors in isolated regions. In this age of citizen journalism, when we can hear the voices and see the faces of those in trouble, such a take on things seems pretty naive. You can see raw footage of Wednesday’s attack on the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura here.

Development that doesn’t benefit the lives of Papuans is one of the roots of the conflict, evident in this video, which shows how the arrival of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program, the biggest development plan in Papua since Freeport, has forced locals, excluded from their own lands, to earn a livelihood by mining sand.

There are lots of places you can read about the complexity of the issues in Papua that go beyond a simplified ‘development or bust’ analysis, including right here on EngageMedia.org.

Those with business interests in Papua should be worried, but not because their projects are threatened by violence, because they may be causing violence.

Jakarta Post

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