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Papua Must Not Be Ignored Any Longer

Papua Must Not Be Ignored Any Longer

by Jakarta Globe
December 10, 2014

We can never solve a problem if we do not intend to solve it in the first place. That’s what we feel about the government’s intentions in Papua.

Statement after statement remains just rhetoric since the region became part of Indonesia in 1969. Then and now, we still have the same problems: conflicts, severe poverty and backwardness.

The problems there have never been a priority, first because this won’t provide any political benefit to policy makers in Jakarta, and second because the conflict and instability in the nation’s easternmost region has seen too much money divided among too many from the local level to the capital.

For a long time, the elites in Jakarta have treated Papuans as outsiders, and saw Indonesia as only comprising of Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi — the country’s most populated islands — because what matters for them is voters and the interest of the majority. Troubled Papua has always been seen as a source of revenue, including cash from big companies operating in the area and state money spent financing the security forces.

So is it that surprising that Papuans are angry, and want independence? They have the right to live well on their own ancestors’ lands.

It’s time we treat Papuans as true Indonesians with all the rights they are entitled to as part of this nation.

We need a leader who really wants to end the strife, not take advantage and profit from Papua’s problems.

Papuans have cried for help for many years. Using Bob Dylan’s questions, we can ask how many ears must our elites have before they can hear people cry? How many deaths will it take until they know that too many people have died already?


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