Talking about human rights in Indonesia cannot be separated from the discussion of Papua. Problems in Papua are admittedly very complex and have been going on for quite a long time. The conflict that occurred until now is the culmination of the problems that precipitated decades before. Every government in power in Indonesia will certainly be faced with this issue. The international public is also starting to pay attention to the problems in Papua, and expects the Indonesian government to solve it well.
Truthfully, various efforts have been made to find common solutions to problems in Papua. But in reality, the security and welfare conditions of the Papuan people have not been fully fulfilled. This is the homework that must be completed for President Joko Widodo in the period of his administration.
Human Rights and The World
70 Years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The declaration was formed in response to the end of World War II. With this declaration, the global community wants to eliminate all forms of cruelty born of the widespread conflicts between countries at that time. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also complements the United Nations Charter that was previously adopted.
In 1948 there were still many parts of the world under colonial rule. These small countries are active participants in the debate on the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They see the concept of human rights as an opportunity to set new standards of behavior, respect for all governments, and hope to take and expand their own political autonomy.
Many think that the birth of the Human Rights Declaration was inspired by the Holocaust. Undeniably, the Holocaust was a brutal brutality that shocked and changed the dynamics of international politics at that time.
However, trauma to the Nazis was not the only incident of crimes against humanity that spurred the birth of the universal declaration. From the Spanish Civil War, the bombing in Guernica, the massacre of 200,000 Chinese by the Japanese army, the disputes between Pakistan and India, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are events which according to Waltz also have a major role in the birth of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Chronology and Root of the Problem in Papua
In Indonesia itself, in every UNGA meeting, Asia Pacific countries like Vanuatu will accuses Indonesia for human rights cases in Papua.
The history of resistance from a group of armed Papuans to the Indonesian government has been going on since the 1960s and 1970s and is still lasting today. Although it has changed generations, and the government in Indonesia has also changed, the conflict has not completely stopped. Various organizations, from the Free Papua Organization (OPM) to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), are still pushing for a re-referendum for Papuan independence.
The role of the pro-referendum organization is very important in the complexity of the Papuan problem. They not only voiced their political aspirations at the elite level, but also actively organized the Papuan people to agree and support their political agenda. This is done to gain attention from international media, while at the same time encouraging the progress of Papuan resistance.
Basically, these organizations are the motor of the pro-referendum movement in Papua. For example, at a meeting of the Pacific Island Forum and UNGA last year, ULMWP held a demonstration that mobilized a large enough mass. The claim they want to submit to the UN meeting is that there is indeed a suppression of free speech over the arrest of hundreds of their demonstrators
Of course, this unilateral claim is not immediately accepted by the media in Indonesia. Because, in fact the protest was dispersed because there are demands for separation. This is the type of protest that will indeed be dispersed if they occur in other countries. However, due to the spread of the case, one of the Pacific countries, Vanuatu, brought the claim of the arrest of the demonstrators and the silencing of the opinion to the UN forum. This is evidence of active political activity from the pro-referendum group to date.
The resistance cannot be separated from the process of integration of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia, which is considered problematic. For pro-independence activists, the emergence of an armed movement since the 1970s was based on re-referendum requests. This is because the results of the referendum on the Popular Opinion Determination (Pepera) in 1969 which were attended by 1,022 Papuan delegates who were elected by the government in Jakarta, which then legalized the entry of Papua into Indonesia, were deemed full of deception and coercion. Many pro-independence Papuans feel that the Pepera was carried out under pressure of the military.
Responding to the early dissents, the New Order viewed the armed groups through the eye of separatism. Of course, this then inevitably results in the ensuing military operations. Jakarta sees this Papuan problem with the perspective of conflict from a group of militants who want to separate the region from Indonesia, without any consideration whatsoever to other factors.
Such policy was of course not without consequences. Various brutal actions, ranging from murder, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, hostage taking, and rape, accompanied the military operations in Papua. Human rights violations has became a “routine” for people in Papua. This is the consequences of the New Order’s rigid views in understanding Papua and its complexity.
On the other hand, Papua itself was left backward and underdeveloped. Development and modernization was only focused in Java, particularly within the Jabodetabek region. Meanwhile, the eastern region of Indonesia only seems to be a mineral and mining sources for conglomerates in Jakarta. Such structural inequality only further complicates the situation; becoming a kind of fuel that continues to foster conflict between pro-independence activists and the Indonesian government.
The presence of reforms marked by Soeharto’s resignation and the end of the New Order’s rule brought little relief to the Papuan observers. Several approaches have been raised to see Papua with a broader, more diverse and profound perspective, not merely about separatism. As a result, the problems of poverty and people’s welfare began to be included in talks on resolving conflicts in Papua. This is the background to the birth of the Special Regional Autonomy Law for Papua.
If we are being honest, the problem in Papua is not only about armed conflicts. It is because conflict and human rights violation in Papua itself are basically a culmination of various problems that has been going on for many years. Therefore, before we talk about solutions, it is better to start from arranging our own views regarding the conflict. With the right perspective, we will tend to choose a more realistic and appropriate approach to the needs in the field. A rigid militaristic perspective and horse-goggles style of analysis has became more outdated when we talk about Papua.
This shift in perspective has finally become a mainstream trend, after various studies show that the root of the problem in Papua is not just about separatism. Furthermore, many factors influence each other in encouraging the situation of conflict and various human rights violations in Papua, including the problem of discrimination, inequality and poverty.
According to research from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) there are at least 4 factors behind the emergence of conflict in Papua. First, marginalization, discrimination, including the lack of recognition of Papua’s contributions and services to Indonesia. Second, the development of social infrastructure in Papua is not optimal, especially education, health, empowerment of the people’s economy, and the low involvement of indigenous Papuan economic actors. Third, the history of Papuan political status and identity relating to the process of political, economic and socio-cultural integration that has not yet been completed. Fourth, the cycle of political violence that has not been handled, even expanded, and followed by the existence of human rights violations that have not been resolved. These various factors are intertwined with each other to push the Papuan conflict situation to last for decades.
Dialogue and Welfare Approach
The inclusion of a broader perspective on the condition of Papua can encourage the presence of a more appropriate approach in dealing with Papua. Even with developments in Papua, the Indonesian government needs to change its security approach with a non-violent approach. The security approach that has been going on since the 1960s has proven not to bring positive change and has drawn strong criticism for humanitarian issues and a myriad of human rights violations. In recent years, the paradigm of dialogue and welfare approach has become a realistic choice for the government.
Dialogue here is intended as a way to discuss issues together, form a common understanding, and build trust to lead the reconciliation process. For this reason it is important then to think about what kind of dialogue will be used and implemented to solve this problem in Papua. As with the experience of the conflict in Aceh and East Timor the dialogue approach was more effective in resolving protracted problems, where each conflicting party sat together who agreed on a number of joint decisions.
Meanwhile, the welfare approach is aimed more at reducing social inequality in Papua, starting from the development of adequate infrastructure, eradicating poverty, and improving the quality of life of the people. A sense of justice from Indonesian as a nation must be realized in Papuan society with the presence of an active and participatory role of the state.
With these two approaches, the main thing that is really needed is the awareness to build common ground and common interests for Papua which is more democratic and prosperous. This is not merely to maintain the integrity of Indonesia, but especially to honor and respect the dignity of Papua within the diversity of Indonesian society.
President Jokowi’s Government Focuses on Building Papua
Nowadays, President Jokowi’s administration also believed more in the dialogue and welfare approach in overcoming the problems in Papua. So far, the government has always tried to use a dialogue and welfare approach to overcome problems in Papua. Military operations will only be the last option.
The overall welfare approach involves development in the fields of health, infrastructure, socio-economic, and the enforcement of human rights. At the same time, the administration also sought to encourage dialogue as a reconciliation effort to build Papua in the future.
The effort above is in line with the vision of the administration of President Jokowi to build Indonesia from the periphery to strengthen outer regions and villages within the framework of a unitary state, while at the same time bring the presence of the state ‘back’ in front of those who lives in the border, disadvantaged, and outermost regions.
President Jokowi’s commitment to build up Papua’s infrastructure is a part of the government’s effort to reduce inequality in another region in Indonesia. With good infrastructure, the government hopes that the economic faucet of Papua can be opened and thus, improves Papuan’s lives. The big goal is to improve the welfare of the community, while reducing poverty there.
Various infrastructure projects, from streets, ports, airports, schools, health facilities, to adequate housing were built in Papua. Until the 4th year of President Jokowi’s current administration, there were at least 4,174 km of roads built in Papua, with details of 3,103 km in Papua, and 1,071 km in West Papua. The government has also built 15 ports, and 2 new airports and 4 old airport developments. In addition, the government has also increased the electrification ratio from 30.48% in 2013 to 72.04% this year.
Various development programs aimed at Papua have an impact on improving the quality of life of the Papuan people. It is proven by the increasing value of the Papua Human Development Index (HDI) from 57.25 in 2015 to 59.09 in 2018. And followed by a decline in the poverty rate, from 28.4% in 2015 to 27.76% this year. With the improvement of Papuan’s welfare, of course, this will lessen the feeling of being ostracized as a fellow Indonesian.
Aside from infrastructure, the government is also trying to make education more accessible for every youth in Papua. This is crucial to complement the infrastructure development programs that the government undertake. These days the chance to access education has become more and more bigger, through various scholarships and improvement of educational facilities in Papua.
Apart from that, actually there are many gestures from President Jokowi who seems very eager to solve all this problem in Papua peacefully. This can be seen from his decision to grant clemency to some political prisoners, the initiation of cross-sectoral dialogue with many groups and national figures, 9 times blusukan to Papua within 4 years, a first visit by a president of Indonesia to the Asmat Tribe, to the realization of ‘one price BBM’ program. All of these political actions are indicators that President Jokowi’s government is indeed serious in building Papua to be more prosperous.
Lastly, the government has been trying to redistribute the wealth from Papua’s natural resources for Papuan themselves. This is done through the profit sharing of gold mines after the government successfully managed to renegotiate shares with PT Freeport Indonesia. Recently, the government of President Jokowi succeeded in acquiring share ownership of PT. Freeport Indonesia up to 51 percent, after more than 50 years Freeport McMorran controls the gold mine in the Timika Regency. Of the share ownership, the Government allocated 10 percent of the shares to the provincial government of Papua. This, again, reflects the consistency of the care of the government of President Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla to the people of Papua.
Before the acquisition of PT. Freeport, the administration of President Jokowi, had already allocated a large allocation of central transfers to regions in Papua. Every year, the central government always transfers Rp. 30 Trillion to Papua. While revenues from royalties, taxes and other revenues from PT. Freeport (as the largest source of income from Papua) is only Rp. 18 Trillion. This means that every year the government always subsidizes around Rp. 18 Trillion for Papua.
In terms of the per capita APBN ratio for Papuans, it is also the biggest. If everyone in Java gets around Rp. 1.5 million / person, outside Java such as Sulawesi and Sumatra is around Rp. 2 million / person, then in Papua this can reach Rp. 10 million / citizen. This is evidence of the great attention of President Jokowi’s administration to the people in Papua.
All the aforementioned endeavors are efforts undertaken by the current government to improve the quality of life of the Papuan people; solutions offered to end conflict and view Papua with a more advanced and prosperous future. We certainly hope that the Papuan problem will soon be resolved with benefits for all parties involved. The dialogue and welfare approach will encourage peaceful solutions for Papua and Indonesia
Other countries that demand Indonesian accountability for human rights cases in Papua should reflect the context of the world’s seven-decade-old human rights declaration, has it been implemented by countries all across the world and is it truly universal?
Like other countries, Indonesia and its independence cannot be separated from human rights records. There is a price to pay to maintain the sovereignty of this island nation. At the end of the 73rd anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, Jokowi conveyed an important point about the dark record of human rights in Indonesia.
“We must also pay attention to efforts to respect, protect, fulfill and enforce human rights. That is the spirit of the Government in issuing Presidential Regulation Number 33 of 2018 concerning Amendments to Presidential Regulation Number 75 of 2015 concerning the National Action Plan on Human Rights (RANHAM) for 2015-2019. The government is trying to accelerate the settlement of past human rights cases and improve human rights protection so that the same incident will not happen again in the future. “
Muridan S. Widjojo (ed), Papua Road Map: Negotiating the Past, Improving the Present, and Securing the Future, Jakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia, 2009