Indonesia adopts new Papuan autonomy law; Separatists dismiss it as unsatisfactory – benarnews
Indonesia’s parliament on Thursday approved a new special autonomy law for Papua that increases central government funding for the struggling region, but the main separatist group said it was drafted without addressing the political and human rights of the country. Papuan people.
Jakarta granted Papua special autonomy in 2001 to appease desires for independence, but Indonesian security forces have been accused of human rights violations during counterinsurgency operations in the Far Eastern region.
The new legislation, which follows the expiration of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law and extends that status for two decades, will boost development in Papua, Home Secretary Tito Karnavian told parliament of the region which includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua.
“With the support of a special increased autonomy fund, oil and gas revenues and infrastructure funds, it is hoped that the Papuan government will be able to accelerate development,” Tito said.
The province of Papua has the lowest human development index in Indonesia, just below West Papua. The index measures factors such as life expectancy, education and standard of living.
Under the new legislation, the central government fund for the provinces of Papua and West Papua has been increased to 2.25% of the total allocated to the country’s 34 provinces, from 2% previously.
Tito was also referring to a provision that Papua is entitled to the lion’s share of the proceeds of its natural resources, including 80 percent from forestry and fisheries, and 70 percent from oil and gas, for the next 20 years. .
However, the same provision existed in the Special Autonomy Law of 2001. The new legislation also amended 18 articles and added two more to the old one.
But a spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Free Papua separatist movement, said the autonomy law was not what the Papuans wanted.
“We reject it because the special autonomy law is not a solution to the question of the political status of the Papuan nation,” Sebby Sambom, spokesperson for the group, told BenarNews.
“We believe the Indonesian way is a violation of human rights and the law. “
Sambom was referring to an independent political status for the region of Papua, which was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after what locals and activists say was a fictitious vote as it only affected around 1,000 people. However, the United Nations accepted the result, which essentially endorsed Indonesia’s rule.
In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded Papua – which constitutes the western half of the island of New Guinea – and annexed it. More recently, the region has been divided into two provinces.
Sambom also referred to the frequent arrests and accusations of treason against pro-independence protesters, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and racist statements denigrating Papuans.
Papuan students and activists are regularly detained and prosecuted for raising the pro-Papuan independence flag or speaking in public of aspirations for independence.
In 2019, more than 40 people were killed in violent unrest in the Papuan region after police raided a dormitory in Surabaya and arrested dozens of Papuan students amid allegations they disrespected the flag Indonesian. Video circulated of heavily armed police using racial slurs against students.
The Free Papua Movement has fought for independence in the Melanesian-majority Christian region since the 1960s.
Sambom said his group would continue to fight against the Indonesian regime “until we get political rights as a Papuan nation”.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, police arrested at least 40 people who rallied against the bill outside the parliament building in Jakarta, said Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia.
The day before, four students were injured and 23 others arrested during clashes with security personnel at a similar protest at Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, Usman said.
“Made in Jakarta, for Jakarta”
The new autonomy law was drafted without consulting Papuans, except for a handful of members of the Papuan elite in the parliamentary special autonomy committee, according to Sam Awom, coordinator of the Commission for missing persons and victims of violence (KontraS) in Papua.
“It is a form of political coercion on the part of the fascist regime,” Awom told BenarNews. “The invoice was made by Jakarta, for Jakarta.”
Yan Mandenas, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee, said Papuans, including students, youth representatives and community leaders, have been consulted during the deliberation of the bill.
The fact that the amendments covered 18 articles instead of just three as originally drafted showed that the government and legislature had listened to the aspirations of the Papuan people, Yan said.
“Not all wishes could be granted, but at least some were accepted. It shows that there has been a commitment and a common effort, ”he told BenarNews.
The new law changed the composition of legislative councils at regency level, ie at local council level. It stipulates that these councils include indigenous representatives appointed in addition to elected officials, rather than being limited to the latter under the 2001 law.
In addition, the new law also calls for prioritizing indigenous Papuans in jobs.
Komarudin Watubun, chairman of a special committee that deliberated on the bill, said this special autonomy law offers greater benefits to native Papuans.
“The bill provides for privileges for indigenous Papuans in the areas of politics, education, health, employment and economy, as well as support for customary communities,” said Komarudin in his speech to parliament.
Critics like Cahyo Pamungkas, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, have said the so-called privileges granted to indigenous Papuans “have no clear mechanism” for their implementation.
Awom of Kontras also noted that in December Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD accused Papuan officials of corruption.
“Because the funds going to Papua are huge, but because the elite there is corrupt people are left with nothing,” Mahfud MD said at the time.
Awom said Jakarta only talks about corruption but does not apply the law.
“The weight of discrimination”
Maichel Telenggen, a resident of Jayapura, the provincial capital of Papua, expressed skepticism about the Autonomy Act, saying what Papuans needed most was respect for basic human rights.
“The problem is that Papuans have long borne the brunt of discrimination and human rights violations. These are the fundamental things that need to be dealt with first, ”Telenggen told BenarNews.
Clashes between rebels and government forces have intensified since December 2018, after rebels killed 20 people who worked for a state-owned construction company that was building a road in Papua.
In April, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ordered security forces to step up efforts to eradicate armed groups after separatist insurgents assassinated an army general.
As part of the crackdown, the government declared the separatist rebels a terrorist group, which alarmed human rights activists who said the classification could lead to more human rights violations and put in danger to civil society.
Usman from Amnesty International Indonesia urged the government to establish a mechanism to ensure that the rights of the Papuan people are fully protected.
“Although the previous law contains provisions that protect the rights of indigenous Papuans, the fact is that the government has not taken their implementation seriously,” Usman said.
“On the contrary, for 20 years, these rights have been violated.
Arie Firdaus in Jakarta contributed to this report.