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West Papua: Land of Mourning, Bloodshed (Peace?) and Humanitarian Intervention

Rev. Benny Giay
Diplomatic Briefing, Hotel Trefa

Jakarta, June 27, 2012

Since May 2012 until June there has been a series of shootings in Jayapura in the context of our struggle to fulfil our  “Papua land of peace” dream. The government has claimed the shooting has been carried out by the separatist group. Papuans respond to such claim is as usual: Oh itu lagu lama. The authorities are playing the old song.  One way to respond to that “old song” is looking at the root of the root cause of shootings that ended with the killing of Mako Tabuni on 14 June and followed by the arrest of other members of KNPB in Papua a few days ago. In my view  this development has some to do with (a) first of all how two different actors  (Indonesia dan Papua) that belong two cultures (Malay and Melanesia) view themselves and their past.

West Papua: Land of Mourning, Bloodshed (Peace?) and Humanitarian InterventionIndonesia view that Papua has become part of Indonesia and has been in contact since 8th century with them. Therefore Papuans are brothers. Papua on the other hand believe that it might be true that Papuans have been dealing with the ancestors of the rest Indonesians for several centuries but that contact occurred in the context of domination, slave trade and oppression. The contact between the two parties was one of the master-slave relations. Therefore, Papuans see their past relations with Indonesia (Tidore, Ternate and Maluku etc as the history of robbery, slavery, destruction of their villages and burning of Papuan community settlements.

Secondly since the 1960s when Indonesia took over Papua, Papuans were (and have been viewed until now) as primitives, backward, uncivilized people and therefore Jakarta since that time promoted itself as the guru, the teacher of a new civilization to “lift up socio-economic welfare of Papuans”. Jakarta then formulated what an Indonesian scholar call: migrant biased development policy (which in brief is a policy made by the central government to guarantee the interest, safety and future of Indonesian migrants in Papua, while ignoring Papuan identity, culture and their future. Papuans have no place in such a development scheme. Papuans are non-humans. Second class citizens. This Indonesian neo-colonial policy (if we can use that term) was from the beginning up to now has been guarded by security institutions. Papuans who resisted this undemocratic policy has been dealt with by security forces.

Thirdly, as a result, Papua has become “site of mourning”, “site of collective trauma”, site oppression and mourning”. Three days of mourning that we had (June 14-16) as we gathered in Post 7 Sentani, after the killing of Mako Tabuni was not a new thing. We only repeat what our past generation went through since the 1960s. Facing such migrant biased development (or Indon colonial policy) as shown above, we, Papuans since 1960sn are like the Javanese of Central Java 1900s who were treated as second class citizens by the Dutch (as Indonesian history books say today); or Black South Africans of 1940s who suffered under apartheid policy. In fact this “migrant biased development policy” I think is “an Indonesian version of apartheid racial policy” toward Papuans. Theologically speaking Papuans of today and in the past have  been living under modern Pharaoh or modern Goliath supported by the international community and multinational companies who had come to Papua and robbed the natural resources and killing off the Papuans.

mako1Fourthly, the killing of Mako Tabuni by Indonesian Police has to be seen in the light of history of  Papuan resistance to Jakarta’s migrant development policy pointed out above. Mako Tabuni and other civilians who voiced their right and grievances have been and are stigmatized as a separatist. Mako who is leading civilians group demanding referendum using peaceful means has been seen as a threat to Indonesia political interest. This strategy to stigmatize was used by Erfi Triasunu, former Military Chief in March 2011. He issued a confidential document saying that Papuan Christian Church (Kingmi) of which I am the Chairman of its Synod) is a religious arm of the Papuan Liberation organization (OPM). Other Church leaders of Papua in September 1966 were accused by security forces in Papua as an umbrella organization of OPM. Similarly, Papuan NGOs who promote human right abuses in the past has been seen in the same light.

The question now is who is behind the shootings that started May. According to Government, it is Mako of KNPB and Mako or KNPB is OPM. I see the shootings from the point of view 3 actors, each of with their agendas. The first party is Mako or KNPB who represent Papua demanding referendum to deal with new modern Pharaoh. The second actor is a small and insignificant group of international solidarity group with an agenda for democracy and promotion Papuan human right. The third actor is Jakarta: who fear the threat of disintegration and panic; not willing to change the approach to Papua; hold on to the sacred doctrine “territorial integrity” with the support of the international community”. And that it is OK to use military or Police force to kill or annihilate separatist group to maintain “the territorial integrity”. Looking at the history of civilian’s resistance the shooting since May of this year was carried out by agents of Government to weaken the civilians struggle for referendum using means of non-violence. Jakarta’s fear that the international solidarity group would promote the cause of Papuan civilians at the international arena. Jakarta is now on safer ground. He has shot dead Mako Tabuni whom he accused as OPM agent. But the dream for “Papua land of Peace” remains a dream. Police and military are still searching for the members of KNPB. Military and Police are in control. Papua is still land of mourning, land of trauma and bloodshed. Modern  Pharaoh and Goliath are in control in Papua today.  It is here that we need “third party” as it is in the case of Israelites and Pharaoh (Exodus 3:7-9). Papua need a moratorium”. Now is the time for Papua and Jakarta to formulate “new Indonesia”. But to do this we need a “humanitarian intervention”.

Toch, perpetrators of Human right violations in Papua will never be taken to court. They in fact will be promoted. Paulus Waterpauw (deputy police Papua) and Bigman Lumbantobing (Papua Police Chief) will follow the footsteps of Col. Hartomo, Kopassus commander who ordered the abduction and the killing of the late Theys Hiyo Eluay in November 2001; who was promoted last week as another High ranking military elites in Jakarta.


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