In the last few weeks, development in Papua has drawn the media’s attention. Although some articles have been balanced, others need clarification for the sake of comprehensiveness. Many people know that since 2001 Papua has had Special Autonomy Status, which guarantees greater authority for the Papuan people to deal with their political, economic and social issues.
What many do not realize is that the 2001 Special Autonomy Law stipulated that the regional governments in Papua (provinces, cities and regencies) have exclusive power to govern their own regions, with the exception of foreign policy, defense, monetary, religious or judicial matters.
Under the law, only Papuans can run for governor, vice governor, regents or mayors. In addition, regional councils as well as the Papuan People’s Assembly were also established. No other region in Indonesia has a local assembly. The members of the Assembly are all indigenous Papuans representing cultural communities, religions and women.
Even with all these instruments in place, development in Papua is still lackluster compared to other provinces. To resolve this problem, the government has established numerous instruments based on three pillars: First, upholding the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia; second, the implementation of the Special Autonomy as the basis of the development of the people of Papua; and third, through the economic and social welfare approach, accelerating development in Papua and West Papua as a national priority.
To optimize development in Papua, the government issued a presidential instruction on the Acceleration of Development of Papua and West Papua instructing all relevant ministries to devote special attention to the two provinces in the island and to coordinate their programs with the governors of both provinces.
This regulation was later strengthened by government regulation No. 65/2011 which provides more comprehensive guidelines on the acceleration and the Presidential Decree No. 66 on the special unit for the acceleration of development in the two provinces.
The government also stressed the importance of human-resource development in Papua. According to the Central Statistics Agency and the National Census in 2010 the population of Papua and West Papua is approximately 2.852.000, with indigenous Papuans comprising 76.21 percent of the total population.
Before the Special Autonomy was implemented, the number of elementary schools in both regions was approximately 1800. This number has increased significantly nowadays to 2184 in Papua, and 1200 in West Papua.
The government has a very high commitment to upholding the law and human rights. It also prioritizes negotiation as the mean to resolve conflicts as previously in Ambon, Poso, Kalimantan and Aceh. The government supports all kinds of constructive communication and engagements.
Regrettably this forum of communication has been misused by several people to disrupt development in Papua and West Papua. This can be seen in last year’s Third Papuan People’s Congress. It is deeply regrettable that this congress, which was held on Oct. 17 2011, resulted in a confrontation with the government.
This was clearly indicated in the the declaration of the establishment of the state of West Papua, and appointing a president and prime minister, as well as hoisting the Bintang Kejora flag. The security forces deemed this action as an attack on the sovereignty of the state leading to the arrest of those involved. The action taken by the security forces was in line with the law.
Another matter of concern is the existence of armed groups in Papua. These groups have caused public unrest and uneasiness, disturbing the peace through violence, vandalism and a plot to overthrow the current governments in Papua and West Papua provinces and to secede from Indonesia.
Actions and polices in Papua demonstrate the fact that the government has clearly opted for dialogue and peaceful means in addressing the many issues of Papua.
Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs
Deputy Minister for Communication, Information and Apparatus Coordination
F. H. B. Soelistyo