West Papua and Referendum Issues

Dave Laksono

The frenzy of various issues in the national media of late has resulted in the weakening of the government's attention to the West Papuan problem. This nation is so busy with the issue of PKI (Indonesian Communist Party), the dissolution of mass organizations, rejection of Perppu No. 2 Year 2017 on CBOs, Special Committee for Questionnaires KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission), until the political struggle ahead of the political year 2018.
Of course these issues are part of the dynamics of nationality that also need attention, but the issue is much more serious concerning the unity of the Unitary State of Republic Indonesia that the problem of West Papua does not escape the attention. The problem of West Papua seems to not get the portion of attention balanced with attention to the issue of "Jakarta Politics".
Secretly, the escape of attention to West Papua's problems has made the separatist movement in West Papua more and more consolidated. The separatist movement takes advantage of Jakarta's political "fray" situation to revive a spirit of division that also extends to foreign countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

The current phenomenon occurs in Spain where Catalunyan people have held a referendum to become an independent state (apart from Spain) and the referendum is also  not impossible to happen in Papua. Analysis from Marinus Yaung, lecturer of international relations FISIP Universitas Cendrawasih (Uncen), some time ago on a media titled "Jokowi, Papua Towards Referendum" is worth to be observed.
In the writing, it is analyzed that the preconditions to the referendum are happening right now and the government does not seem to want to highlight the main root of the West Papuan problem. Whereas the root of the main problem has actually been designed in a massive and systematic way to become a political stone referendum.
The root of the issue is the government's promise to resolve various cases of human rights violations that occurred in West Papua, where the issue of human rights violations became the most sensitive issue and gained international attention.

Some time ago, the issue of human rights violations was raised in the UN General Assembly trials through Marshall Islands State, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu who expressed their opinion in the international forum on their concerns about the issue of human rights violations committed by Indonesia.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, stated that human rights violations and the struggle for self-determination of West Papua are two things on the same coin. The group requested that the Indonesian government immediately revoke the status of security operations against West Papua, free political prisoners, lift the ban on the coverage of journalism, and provide access to independent observers to see the situation in West Papua.
Not only that, the EU Parliament also in the hearing early in 2017 condemned human rights violations in West Papua. The EU Parliament's demand is to ask the Indonesian authorities to revoke all charges imposed on all West Papuan activists voicing their opinion for holding a referendum on West Papua.
The European Parliament's insistence is based on Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed by Indonesia-EU on May 1st, 2014 in cooperation with one of the prerequisites concerning respect for Human Rights.

Read Also : Wiranto Assessed the Petition for The Unauthorized West Papuan Referendum

Need Diplomacy
Not Just an Economic Approach

Solving the West Papuan problem requires serious government diplomacy. The meaning of diplomacy here holds to the principle of an actively free foreign policy.
The government should utilize all the power of diplomacy to safeguard West Papua. We always hear the slogan "NKRI is a fixed price", then the slogan is not just a slogan but must be realized in the real action.
So far, solving the West Papua problem has only been approached with an economic approach. The budget disbursed through the APBN (state budget) for West Papua development is greater. Within one fiscal year 2016, the total funds allocated for both ministries and institutions, and transfer funds to the provinces of Papua and West Papua reached Rp 85.7 trillion.
Such a budget is part of the central government's commitment to accelerate the development process, especially infrastructure development to ensure equitable distribution of development.
Of course the government's commitment to build West Papua's economy should be appreciated. The commitment is a concrete manifestation of the government's attention to accelerate the process of building the infrastructure and bring the West Papuan people closer to the welfare level.

But the question is whether the economic solution that the government is trying to pass by is the only appropriate solution? Of course not.
The real issue of West Papua is not merely an economic problem, but the content of its political interests is greater, especially with regard to issues of human rights violations and West Papuan independence.
The issue of human rights violations has become an international issue so if this issue is not resolved, it can spread into a larger political issue until the movement to revive the referendum of West Papua. And the movement to live the referendum is going on in West Papua.

A few days ago, a secret petition demanding on independence referendum for West Papua was presented to the United Nations (UN). The petition is said to be smuggled in the villages.
The petition demanded a free vote on West Papua independence and the appointment of UN representatives to investigate reports of human rights abuses by the Indonesian security forces.
We must learn from the Catalunya referendum which is currently seizing the attention of the international world where Catulunyan people choose to separate themselves from Spain. Unmanaged political issues eventually grew (disrupted) when the Catalunyan people's sentiment broke out with a referendum.
So, if the government does not pay attention to the sentiment of Papuan independence and seize the issue has been solved only with the economic approach, then the Catalunyan referendum is not impossible to extend to West Papua.

So what should the government do to control the issue of referendum in West Papua? The answer is that government diplomacy must intensify the root of the West Papuan problem. The government should give more attention to solving the West Papua problem.
The government should intensify diplomacy to give international confidence that the government is committed to resolving the West Papua issue.
This is where the challenge of foreign politics is active. The government should actively be able to convince the international community that the government guarantees the security of the West Papuan people, including those who are in conflict with the government.
At the domestic level, the handling of the West Papuan issue must also be with humanist approaches and dialogue. The government must adopt a better communication mechanism with the West Papuan people.
The emergence of West Papuan referendum issues should not be addressed reactively but should be a momentum to give greater attention to the West Papua issue.
As Bung Karno's speech of May 4, 1963 in Jayapura, Irian Jaya was an area that has long been included in the territory of the Republic Indonesia. So our duty and responsibility is to keep West Papua into the territory of NKRI.
West Papua is NKRI and NKRI is West Papua. We all love West Papua, so give more attention to West Papua.

*This opinion was written by Dave Akbarshah Fikarno Laksono, A member of the House of Representatives in the Foreign and Defense Commission

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