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wp FW: Residents raised pro-independence flags across the province

May 1, 2013

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/police-separatists-clash-on-50th-anniversary-of-integration-of-papua/

Police, Separatists Clash on 50th Anniversary of Integration of Papua

Residents raised pro-independence flags across the province

By Banjir Ambarita & SP/Robert Isidorus on 4:07 pm May 1, 2013.
Category Editor’s Choice, Featured, News
Tags: BPS Central Statistics Agency, Papua, Papua independence movement, Papua poverty, Papua violence, PDI-P Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Puan Maharani, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono SBY, violence

The National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Organization (TPN-OPM) raises a Morning Star flag during a ceremony in Kemtumilena, Jayapura, on Wednesday. (SP Photo/Robert Isidorus)

Jayapura & Sorong. The Indonesian government’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the integration of Papua on Wednesday was shadowed by pro-independence flags being raised across the province and a case of separatist activists being shot dead by police.

Police allegedly killed two activists and arrested six others after reporters witnessed them raising the Free Papua Organization’s Morning Star flag on Jalan Raya Adibay, Biak, on Wednesday morning.

“There is information that two people were shot, but we’re still investigating it by gathering our members who detained them,” Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said on Wednesday.

He denied that residents hoisted the flag, instead saying that police were called in to break up a mob that was provoking local residents.

“There was no Morning Star [flag] hoisting in Biak, only dozens of people delivering oration,” Sumerta said. “There’s no report about [Morning Star flag hoisting].”

The spokesman said that when police tried to break up the gathering, members clashed with the officers and tried to steal their weapons. Sumerta said members of the group darted to the forest, but police detained six of them. They also confiscated a pistol, five machetes, seven arrows and 39 bullets.

The pro-independence flag was raised in many towns across Papua and West Papua on Wednesday. In Fakfak, West Papua, police hauled down a Morning Star flag that a school raised around 4 a.m.

In Yokari, Jayapura, the National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Organization (TPN-OPM) raised the Morning Star flag at 3 a.m. in Kemtumilena hamlet.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian government celebrated the integration of Papua with a ceremony led by Papua Armed Forces chief Maj. Gen. Christian Zebua in Sorong.

While the government has been under criticism for failing to ensure the welfare of residents of the province, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono introduced new policy proposal for Papua.

In a meeting with Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and other officials, Yudhoyono said that he wanted to redesign Papua’s special autonomy status. He said that the old law on Papuan autonomy will be revised to give Papua “special autonomy plus,” but did not elaborate on the details. Yudhoyono said he will seek the input of local stakeholders and residents when drafting the revision, which is scheduled to be completed in August.

But doubts linger on how effective the government’s latest attempt to bring welfare to both Papua and West Papua will be. The government had already disbursed around Rp 40 trillion ($4.12 billion) in total to the provinces since 2001, but violence, security concerns and poverty still mar the area. This year, the central government gave the provinces Rp 7 trillion. The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) plans to monitor the funds.

Poengky Indarti, the director of human rights organization Imparsial, told Suara Pembaruan on Wednesday that the problem in Papua was that policies were implemented from the top, without considering input from the residents. He said Papuans feel that their concerns are not heard for decisions that will effect their lives.

“Beside that, the most important is to punish the officials and elites in Papua who corrupted [the regional budget] while punishing those who committed violence,” Poengky said.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative Priyo Budi Santoso from Golkar Party said that he did not understand government’s new concept of “autonomy plus.”

“It probably was meant for good, but the concept is not clear. How far should the Papuan autonomy extension go? Even the implementation of the current Papua special autonomy and its consequences could not be totally comprehended by the government,” Priyo said on Tuesday, adding that the president seems to disregard the involvement of lawmakers in the special status revision.

Lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Puan Maharani said that the government should come up with a comprehensive solution for Papua, instead of addressing each problem separately.

“The problems of security, unity and welfare in Papua should be tackled as a single item. It should not be seen or solved separately,” she said. “It’s even more worrying that both Papua and West Papua are two provinces with highest poverty rate in Indonesia. Is it normal for provinces with rich natural resources to have poor people?”

Based on the data from the Center Statistics Agency (BPS), 27 percent of people in West Papua and 30 percent of people in Papua live below the poverty line.

“Fifty years ago, we as a nation agreed and united to free Papua from the shackles of colonialism and return it to Indonesia, so Indonesian people from Sabang [Aceh] to Merauke [Papua] could receive welfare and independence,” Puan said. “So it is our obligation, especially the central government and the two provincial governments, to improve the welfare of Papuans in reality. This needs a heart-to-heart approach to accompany the physical development so Papua will be known not only with its natural resources but also with its prosperous population.”

Additional reporting by SP/Carlos Paath, Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Ezra Sihite

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