A group of 18 professors from the country’s top universities released a statement Thursday calling on the government to use dialogue instead of military force to address problems in Papua.
The so-called Academic Forum for a Peaceful Papua said separatism was not a standalone problem in Papua and therefore deploying military troops would never bring to an end the conflicts ravaging the region.
“Using guns will never solve the problem because the issues are not only about separatism. The complexity of the problems in Papua involve many other factors including history, politics, economics, sociocultural issues and of course welfare. Papua’s issues cannot be simplified to only separatism,” the group said in a statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
To address such a complex problems, the academics said, peaceful dialogue must be used. “Only by using dialogue we can root out the problems in Papua and find the best way to solve them,” they said.
The group includes Padang State University’s Mestika Zed, Hasanuddin University’s Arfin Hamid, Gajah Mada University’s Purwo Santoso, and University of Indonesia’s Muridan S. Widjojo.
Last week, a string of deadly events took place across Papua while thousands of Papuans rallied to demand a referendum.
Clashes between supporters of candidates for regent of newly Puncak regency claimed at least 21 lives followed by the killing of four people by gunfire and machetes in the provincial capital of Jayapura.
The Indonesian Military has, as always, blamed the violence partly on the Free Papua Movement (OPM).