Many non-Melanesian Indonesians are held in high regard for their contributions to Papua. Some others are not so well known to the public, especially papuans.

His name is legendary among people in Oksibil, Wamena, and Jayapura.

Tigor Silaban has been working as a doctor in remote areas in Papua since 1979. The lacking of infrastructure forced him to make everything by himself back then, even building his own radio network. In the 80s, he used to work for almost 24 hours a day. People called him a ‘barbaric’ doctor in Wamena.

After servicing for 12 years, he was relocated to the Papuan capital city, Jayapura. Not satisfied with his new, comfortable chair, he regularly inspects healthcare facilities in the most isolated corners of Papua.

Tigor is a son of Friedrich Silaban, the architect of the most iconic mosque in Jakarta, the Istiqlal.

This figure is an Indonesian fighter in the field of education, her name is Saur Marlina Manurung or commonly called Butet. She is the director of the Sokola Rimba who struggles to eliminate illiteracy in the forests of Indonesia. Her name immediately became a hero when she founded Sokola Rimba. She was born in Jakarta, February 22, 1972, butet admitted that it was not easy to build Sokola Rimba because she had received rejection and expulsion from the local people. But all of that does not break her intention to advance education in Indonesia. Butet, assisted by her friends, founded her first Jungle School for the Suku Anak Dalam (jungle people) in Jambi National Park after it developed in several areas such as Flores, Halmahera, Bulukumba (Sulawesi), Besar Island and Mount Egon, Aceh, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Klanten, Bantul and Papua.

Establishing Sokola Rimba in Papua has been her dream 10 years ago. After completing the Masters of Aplied Anthropology and Participatory Development program from The Australian Nation University (ANU) in 2011, Butet returned to her homeland to serve again as the Director of Sokola Rimba. The dream of establishing education in Papua was finally achieved. Through the Papua-SOKOLA Literacy Expedition, together with her two friends, Butet pioneered a trip to Papua. Precisely in the village of Mumugu Batas Batu, Asmat.

For her concern for education in Indonesia, Butet won an award as Man and Biosphere Award from LIPI and UNESCO Indonesia (2001), Woman of Letters’ as one of TIME magazine’s Heroes of Asia (2004), Women of the Year in the field education by ANTEVE (2004), Asoka Fellowship Award (2006), Today’s Generation Heroes by Modernisator (2008), Young Global Leader by World Economic forum (2009), Social Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young (2012).

Her service inspired many people to love this country by contributing in any way. Because one small thing that given will mean alot to those who need it. Spreading goodness and benefits to many people is the main goal. So it can add to the attitude of love for the homeland and not easy to be divide.

Former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid born September 7 1940 had been known for his contribution to building up Indonesian pluralism and his vision in those field meant that he deserved to be called a “humanitarian figure”. Gus Dur was widely respected for his policy of protecting minority groups. Taking power in 1999, Gus Dur, for example, issued a regulation one year later declaring Confucianism, a religion adhered to by many Chinese-Indonesians, as a religion recognized by the state. He also remembered in Indonesian history as the 4th President of the Republic and the leader who signified the initial breaking of General Soeharto’s iron-clad grasp on Indonesian politics and people. Whether or not they understood or agreed with his political actions, they could not help but feel much loved for his humanitarian vision and his earthy humanism mixed with a spirituality that transcended conventional religious boundaries.

He was also known for his contribution for West Papua. In the past, during the New Order regime of former President Suharto, it was taboo for the Papuan people to refer to themselves as Papuans. They were politically reluctant to refer to themselves as Papuans because they were afraid of being identified with the Free Papua Organisation (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM). Gus Dur however broke down that wall of fear. Prior to this Papua was referred to as Irian, and similarly its people as Irians. As president, in 2000 Gus Dur also consented to and even provided financial assistance for the Papuan people to hold the 2nd Papuan People’s Congress. This consent was not just highly valued. For the Papuan people, democratic space had massive impact, particularly in terms of their self-identity as Papuans.

At the meeting, which was attended by around 5,000 participants from all corners of Papua, they again openly discussed the need to resolve Papua’s historical distortions. They discussed the importance of resolving human rights violations in Papua and the neglect of basic rights, particularly in the economic and social and cultural fields.

They saw that dialogue and negotiations were an important step in resolving these three problems. During the congress held in the provincial capital of Jayapura, it was also agreed to establish the Papuan Presidium Council (Presidium Dewan Papua) that was chaired by Theys Hiyo Eluay.

In political terms, Gus Dur’s wishes in the lead up to the 2001 New Year expressed through the words, “I want Papua to see the sun rise from the east,” had an extraordinary impact on the Papuan people.

The acknowledgement of cultural expression, freedom of expression and political identity was no just important for Papuan society, but also asserted the existence of the Papuan people and that they should be treated as equally. And It is not surprising therefore that Gus Dur’s departure (Dec. 30, 2009) is a huge loss for the Papuan people. In fact they were actually in the middle of preparing a commemoration of the designation of the name Papua and were planning to invite Gus Dur to attend.

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