Monday, January 16, 2012

Some Papuans skeptical about UP4B

The government’s initiative to accelerate development in Papua and West Papua through the establishment of a special unit led by Bambang Darmono has met with resistance from some Papuans.

“Papuan people have rejected special autonomy status. Now they have offered UP4B. What on earth is that? We Papuan people reject UP4B. What we want is a referendum,” Saul Bomay, former political prisoner, said during a meeting with an entourage from Jakarta in Jayapura on Wednesday.

The Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B) is part of the central government’s policy of addressing the needs of the Papuan people.

As part of the government’s efforts to further this initiative, a meeting was held on Wednesday, which was attended by representatives of Papuan social communities.

Present from Jakarta were Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, National Police Chief Timur Pradopo and UP4B chairman Bambang Darmono.

Besides Bomay, those expressing resistances to UP4B were Hakim Pahabol of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) and Ones, a student representative.

“I represent the students. The solution to Papuan conflict is a referendum because Papera 1969 was illegitimate,” Ones said, referring to a past referendum that saw the majority of Papuans opt to remain in Indonesia but which others saw as illegitimate.

Hakim Pahabol said that the basic problem in Papua was politics, not welfare. He said that before “Indonesian people came to Papua”, Papuans had enough to eat and prospered. He added that Papuans suffered after “Indonesian people had come to Papua.” “We want a referendum. Nothing else,” he said.

Some local participants showed their support for the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), but they questioned why Papuan people were not better off in economic terms, given that special autonomy status had been imposed for 10 years.

“For me NKRI is unnegotiable. A solution is needed in terms of how special autonomy caters for the welfare of Papuans,” said Izak Samuel Karubaba from the youth communication forum.