Govt urged to rethink and review Papua expansion plan

Papua Expansion
Illustration of students from the Lapago Indigenous Territory gathering and making a joint statement to reject the recent proposal to form a new province in the Lapago Indigenous Territory - Jubi/Yance Wenda

Jayapura, Jubi – A member of the Commission for Government, Politics, Law and Human Rights at the Papua Legislative Council (DPRP), Laurenzus Kadepa, urged the Indonesian government to review the plan for the expansion of the Papua Province which is now raising pros and cons among Papuans.

If the plan continued without taking into account the situation in the Papuan community, Kadepa feared that new problems will arise, such as conflicts between groups.

“The majority of the groups that reject the expansion plan are in the indigenous territories of Lapago and Meepago. Meanwhile, some of the groups that support the plan are in the coastal customary areas of Mamta, Animha, and Saireri,” said Kadepa to Jubi via phone call on Monday, May 9, 2022.

He said that each group had its own reasons. Those who reject the expansion plan did not mean they wanted to ask for a referendum or other political reasons but rather, they worried that the expansion would further marginalize indigenous Papuans. This is because the indigenous Papuan human resources are not evenly distributed in all regencies.

Meanwhile, groups that support the plan hoped the expansion would improve the welfare of the citizens, by accelerating development progress and shortening access to public services, especially given the vast territory of Papua with its difficult geographical conditions.

“As a member of the DPRP, I am not in a position to support or reject the expansion plan. But I must convey all the aspirations of the people to the relevant parties. I just want all of this to really be put on the basis of the interests and future of the indigenous Papuans,” he said.

Therefore, Kadepa said, the government needed to form an independent team to review the Papuan expansion plan. “President Joko Widodo and Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD must look at this [controversial] situation. The government must form an independent team and conduct a review, maybe involve the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) or the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). The plan must be based on scientific studies,” he said.

Recently, Mahfud MD said that 80 percent of the Papuan people support the Papua expansion plan. However, according to Kadepa, this claim was questionable. “Even though Mahfud MD said 80 percent of the Papuan people accepted [the expansion]. But where are those studies from? Mahfud MD only said it was a survey from the presidential agency,” he said. (*)

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