Caring Papua for one Indonesia
West Papua has been final for Indonesia as a result of the UN-supported Act of Free Choice or “Pepera”, held on May 1, 1969, which ended with the choice of the vast majority of the Papuan people to join the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
However, this reality is often challenged by the ongoing moves of free-Papua supporters in and outside the country. The Free Papua Movements (OPM) armed members launch sporadic attacks on both security and civilian targets while this separatist groups political activists and those backing their struggle also propagate ideas of separatism against Jakarta.
In gaining their goals, they echo their voices at local, regional and international forums. The internationalization of the Papua issue has then become an undeniable reality.
In making their struggle more effective and able to reach as many people as possible in this borderless world, they also take advantage of print, electronic, and social media to propagate their ideas of separatism and demands for having referendum for West Papua, and disseminate false information and baseless allegations against Indonesia.
Therefore, at present, it is not difficult to find samples of websites and social media as well as mainstream media, whose contents support the ideas and campaigns of these free Papua groups.
Among the websites and social media frequently used as engine of propaganda of those wanting to separate Papua from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia are https://www.ipwp.org/, https://twitter.com/freewestpapua, https://www.freewestpapua.org/, https://westpapuamedia.info/, http://freewestpapua.eu/, and https://www.facebook.com/freewestpapua/.
An accusation that Indonesia had carried out a genocide against the native Papuans in West Papua is not merely propagated through the free-Papua movements social media but also through certain news portals, like http://www.stuff.co.nz in New Zealand.
In one of its news items, this news portal published Pala Molisas article titled “Theres genocide in our neighbourhood” on August 15, 2016 or one month before the UN General Assembly was held at the UN Headquarters in New York.
It remains fresh in our mind, how the delegates of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Tonga, cornered Indonesia at the UN General Assembly by using human rights issues, including genocide, and echoing a demand for a referendum for West Papua.
Thanks to the smart and argumentative responses of Nara Masista Rakhmatia, young Indonesian diplomat attending the UN General Assembly, the baseless allegations and demands that the delegates of these six South Pacific countries campaigned could be rebutted.
Actually, challenges for Indonesias attempts to keep maintaining Papua and West Papuan Provinces to remain parts of its national sovereignty also come from certain academicians at foreign universities.
In an international conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Pacific Journalism Review (PJR) organized by New Zealands Auckland University of Technology (AUT) on November 27-29, 2014, for instance, the organizing committee invited two staunch campaigners of the Free West Papua groups, Nick Chesterfield and Maire Leadbeater.
The central government is, indeed, aware of these uneasy challenges. Along with the provincial governments of Papua and West Papua, it has been working hard to accelerate development programs in Papua and West Papua Provinces to improve the local peoples welfare.
Under President Joko Widodos administration, the government has been intensifying infrastructure projects in West Papua. It has even presented a newly-revamped integrated cross-border post (PLBN) in Skouw, outside Jayapura, Papua Provinces capital city, to make it be a trading hub, which connects the people of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Whatever strategies and concrete measures that the central and provincial governments have been taking in responding to the Papua issue, they must have never got tired of bringing the outcomes of sustainable and well-planned development, justice, and prosperity for all people in Papua and West Papua Provinces.
Development and prosperity for the whole people of Papua are also the main reason of Nicolaas Jouwe, a highly respected free Papuan leader living in the Netherlands since the 1960s, for returning to Indonesia in 2009 and residing in the country since then.
As quoted in a book titled “Nicolaas Jouwe Back to Indonesia” (2014), Jouwe bluntly said: “the main priority why I return and reside in Indonesia is to help Papuas development.”
In building a solid unity of prosperous Papua within Indonesia, Jouwe suggested that the government keep maintaining dialogues with both Papuan society leaders and Papuan people in general