Civil group appeals to Jokowi to cancel Papuan expansion plan to ‘halt conflict’

Plans for a Papuan provincial 'carve-up'
Plans for a Papuan 'carve-up' ... expansion from two provinces to five. Image: Tabloid Jubi

Tabloid Jubi

The Civil Organisations Solidarity for Papua Land has condemned Indonesia’s Papua expansion plan of forming three new provinces risks causing new social conflicts.

And the group has urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to cancel the plan, according to a statement reports Jubi.

The group — comprising the Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), JERAT Papua, KPKC GKI in Papua Land, YALI Papua, PAHAM Papua, Cenderawasih University’s Human Rights and Environment Democracy Student Unit, and AMAN Sorong — said the steps taken by the House of Representatives of making three draft bills to establish three New Autonomous Regions (DOB) in Papua had created division between the Papuan people.

As well as the existing two provinces (DOB), Papua and West Papua, the region would be carved up to create the three additional provinces of Central Papua, South Papua, and Central Highlands Papua.

The solidarity group noted that various movements with different opinions have expressed their respective aspirations through demonstrations, political lobbying, and even submitting a request for a review of Law No. 2/2021 on the Second Amendment to Law No. 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus).

These seven civil organisations also noted that the controversy over Papua expansion had led to a number of human rights violations, including the breaking up of protests, as well as police brutality against protesters.

However, the central government continued to push for the Papua expansion, and the House had proposed three bills for the expansion.

Wave of demonstrations
The Civil Organisations Solidarity for Papua Land said it was worried the expansion plan would raise social conflicts between parties with different opinions.

They said such potential for social conflict had been seen through a wave of demonstrations that continue to be carried out by the Papuan people — both those who rejected and supported new autonomous regions.

The potential for conflict could also be seen from the polemic on which area would be the new capital province.

In addition, rumours about the potential for clashes between groups had also been widely circulated on various messaging services and social media.

“All the facts present have only shown that the establishment of new provinces in Papua has triggered the potential for social conflicts,” the solidarity group said.

“This seems to have been noticed by the Papua police as well, as they have urged their personnel to increase vigilance ahead of the House’s plenary session to issue the new Papua provinces laws,” said the group.

The group reminded the government that the New Papua Special Autonomy Law, which is used as the legal basis for the House to propose three Papua expansion bills, was still being reviewed in the Constitutional Court.

Public opinion ignored
Furthermore, the House’s proposal of the bills did not take into account public opinion as mandated by Government Regulation No. 78/2007 on Procedures for the Establishment, Abolition, and Merger of Regions.

“It is the most reasonable path if the Central Government [would] stop the deliberation of the Papua Expansion plan, which has become the source of disagreement among Papuan people.

“We urged the Indonesian President to immediately cancel the controversial plan to avoid escalation of social conflict,” said the Civil Organisations Solidarity for Papua Land.

The solidarity group urged the House’s Speaker to nullify the Special Committee for Formulation of Papua New Autonomous Region Policy, as well as the National Police Chief and the Papuan Governor to immediately take the necessary steps to prevent social conflict in Papua, by implementing Law No. 7/2012 on Handling Social Conflicts.

The seven civil organisations also urged all Papuan leaders not to engage in activities that could trigger conflict between opposing groups over the Papua expansion.

“Papuan community leaders are prohibited from being actively involved in fuelling the polarisation of this issue,” the group said.

Republished with permission.

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