‘It raises social conflict’: Civil group asks Jokowi to cancel Papua expansion plan

Social Conflict
Expansion illustration - Doc. jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – The Civil Organizations Solidarity for Papua Land said the Papua expansion plan of forming three new provinces was prone to causing new social conflicts. In a press statement received by Jubi on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, the group urged President Joko Widodo to cancel the plan.

The group, consisting of 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, stated that the steps taken by the House of Representatives of making three draft bills to establish three New Autonomous Regions (DOB) in Papua had created a crack between the Papuan people who accept and reject the creation of new provinces.

The solidarity noted that various groups 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 organizations also noted that the controversy over Papua expansion had led to a number of human rights violations, including the disbandment of protests, as well as police brutality against protesters. However, the central government continued to push for the process of the Papua expansion, and the House used its right of initiative to propose three bills for the expansion.

The Civil Organizations Solidarity for Papua Land worried the expansion plan would raise social conflicts between parties with different opinions regarding the expansion. 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 reject and support new autonomous regions.

The potential for conflict can also be seen from the polemic on which area will be the new capital province. In addition, rumors about the potential for clashes between groups have 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. 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. 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 stopped 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 conflicts,” said the Civil Organizations Solidarity for Papua Land.

The solidarity 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 organizations also urged all Papuan leaders not to engage in activities that could trigger conflicts between groups who agree and disagree with the Papua expansion. “Papuan community leaders are prohibited from being actively involved in fueling the polarization of this issue,” the group said. (*)

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