Have you seen the video above regarding the alleged torture by the Indonesian military towards indigenous Papuans? You should. Afterwards come back and read the rest of this post.
Incorporated in the 1960s, the western half of the island of New Guinea was ‘transferred’ by the Dutch to Indonesia, and was then renamed to Irian Jaya. Question would arise whether the Papuans themselves agree to become a part of Indonesia in the first place, but this is of course a sensitive issue because discussing about it publicly would make you look like you’re part of a separatist movement.
But let’s think with a clear head for a while.
The government have been sending troops to Papua in order to “silence” any separatist movements, and also sending a lot of transmigrants from Java to Papua, which resulted a high population growth of Papua in the 2010 census, compared to other regions in Indonesia. This is of course misleading, because the population growth is not depicting the number of indigenous Papuans, which has become less in numbers compared to the increasing numbers of ‘outsiders’.
Without a doubt, Papua is rich with natural resources: forests which are now at stake for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme; tremendous amount of biodiversity; and mineral resources – one of them is the Grasberg gold mine operated by Freeport, the largest taxpayer to the government. But answer me if you know this: why is Papua underdeveloped? Why is it hard for Papuans to get a good education? Why does it lack infrastructure?
Does it make sense if there’s a separatist movement from the Papuans?
Of course, to give some credit, they were given a special autonomy status. But the special autonomy law has not yet been translated into implementing regulations by the government, nor the local government in Papua. In short, it’s not working.
The government should nail down to the root cause of the separatist movements: inequality and development. If they manage to deal with this, there would be no need for violence and torture to silence these voices who are, in principle, just seeking for a better life.