Why doesn’t Indonesia want a dialogue with Papuans, Benny Giay asks

Benny Giay
Dr Benny Giay when he was a resource person in a public discussion "Imagination of Papuans as a Nation (Melanesians)" was held by the Regional Research Center of the Indonesian Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), on Thursday (19/05/2022). Dock. BRIN discussion zoom screenshot

Jayapura, Jubi – Papuan respected figure, theologian and activist Benny Giay throws the question of why the Indonesian government has not wanted to engage in a dialogue with Papuans. Instead, the government always chooses a security approach by sending troops and police to the Land of Papua.

Benny Giay conveyed this in a public discussion “Imagination of Papuans as a Nation (Melanesians)” held online by the Regional Research Center of the Indonesian Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) on Thursday, May 19, 2022.

Giay emphasized that dialogue was important for the safety of the Papuan people. The Indonesian government must solve the problems in Papua like solving the problems that occurred in Aceh. Not by sending security forces.

“In the past, then vice president Jusuf Kalla went all-out in a dialogue with Free Aceh Movement [GAM] which was mediated by a neutral state,” he said.

Giay regretted that during President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s 13 visits to Papua, the government was not serious about dialogue with Papuans. Even with Jokowi’s visits after visits, the Papuan people continue to suffer more and more on their land.

“Should Papuans embrace Islam or become like Indonesians first then the Indonesian government wants to have a dialogue with Papuans?” Giay asked ironically. If so, he said, it only showed racism from the Indonesian government towards Papuans.

“They [Indonesian government] could negotiate with GAM but not with Papuans? Why?” Giay wondered.

Giay said sending security forces would not solve the problems in Papua. It will only make the Papuan people suffer even more and lead to their extinction.

In a report titled “The Hunt for Gold: Wabu Block Mining Plans Risk Aggravating Human Rights Violations in Papua”, Amnesty International Indonesia has documented an alarming increase in security forces in Papua since 2019, from only two military posts to 17 military posts.

Amnesty also noted that there were at least 12 cases of unlawful killings involving security forces, increasing restrictions on freedom of movement, as well as beatings and arrests that were often experienced by local Papuan people.

Previously, Chairman of the Papuan Customary Council Mananwir Yan Pieter Yarangga said that the central government must have the courage to conduct peaceful dialogue with Papuans. Peaceful dialogue is important to resolve all the problems experienced by Indigenous Papuans.

Yarangga said that the root of Papua’s problems could only be solved by peaceful dialogue involving all stakeholders and witnessed by all Indigenous Papuans living in Papua, Indonesia, or abroad. (*)

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