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Jokowi is a ‘hero’ for Myanmar, what about justice for the Papuans?

President Joko Widodo … appealing for an end to bloodshed in Myanmar, but what about Papua? Image: Thai PBS World

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) has responded to comments by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who recently condemned violence by the military junta against pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar.

The executive director of the ULMWP in Papua, Markus Haluk, said that the Papuan people also strongly condemned the actions of the Myanmar military junta which had seized power by violating the principles of democracy and human rights of the Myanmar people.

“We condemn the anti-democratic military action of Myanmar, that is the principle of the people of West Papua,” he said.

“The West Papuans reject the Indonesian and American governments which had been anti-decolonisation by the Dutch government towards the West Papuans since 1963. The West Papuans oppose violence against anyone.”

Haluk said that while watching President Jokowi’s calls over the situation in Myanmar he had felt upset and angry because the Indonesian government had made the public question its democratic principles.

The Indonesian government condemned Myanmar’s military but at the same time the government’s actions against Papua were anti-humanitarian and anti-democratic.

“Honestly, I was angry, emotional, upset, but also I laughed out loud.

‘The problem in your backyard’
“You always talk about democracy, human rights, being a hero for those over there, but what about those in front of your eyes – the problem in your backyard is the problem of Papua,” Haluk said.

“What did President Jokowi do [to solve Papuan conflict]? Has he finished [the Papuan conflict] with 11 visits? Has he finished [the Papuan conflict) with building the Port Numbay Red Bridge?

“Is it by holding PON XX [National Sports Week in October 2021 in Papua] and building facilities with a value of trillions of rupiah? Is it by sending TNI/POLRI [Indonesian military and police] troops from outside Papua?” he said.

Haluk said that all that Jakarta had done would never resolve the political conflict between West Papua and the Indonesian government for the past 58 years – 1963-2021.

The Indonesian government must think about concrete steps to resolve the crisis.

“I convey to President Jokowi that now is the time for him to talk about Myanmar and it is indeed time to resolve political conflicts and human rights violations, crimes against humanity that continue to increase in West Papua,” he said.

Haluk said there were several concrete steps that President Jokowi could take.

President must honour promises
The President must fulfil his promise to the chair of the UN Human Rights Council to come to West Papua.

“That is in accordance with President Jokowi’s promise to the chair of the UN Human Rights Council in February 2018 in Jakarta.”

He said the president must also fulfil his promise in 2015 that foreign journalists would be  allowed to freely enter Papua. Not only journalists, but also for all international communities to visit Papua.

“Allow access for international journalists, foreign diplomats, academics, members of the senate and congress as well as the international community to visit West Papua,” he said.

Meanwhile, Selpius Bobi, an activist for the victims of March 16, 2006, said last week that the Indonesian government had never stopped suppressing the freedom of indigenous Papuans.

The events that put him in prison 15 years ago were still ongoing. He said it was better for the state to admit its mistakes in West Papua.

“The Indonesian state must courageously, honestly and openly acknowledge to the public the deadly scenario behind the March 16, 2006 tragedy which it was responsible for and apologise to the victims,” he said.

Freeport clash and tragedy
Three policemen and an airman were killed and 24 other people wounded during a clash with Papuan students who had been demanding the closure of PT Freeport’s Grasberg mine.

Indonesia committed violence against the Papuan people to take away its natural wealth.

“We declare that PT Freeport Indonesia must be closed and let us negotiate between the United States, Indonesia and West Papua as responsibility and compensation for the West Papuan people who were sacrificed because of the unilateral cooperation agreement related to mining exploitation,” he said.

He also urged President Jokowi to immediately stop the crimes that were rampant in West Papua.

“Stop violence, stop military operations, stop sending TNI-POLRI, stop kidnappings and killings, stop stigmatisation and discrimination, stop arbitrary arrest and imprisonment for West Papuan human rights activists, and immediately withdraw non-organic troops from the Land of Papua, revoke the Papua Special Autonomy Law and stop the division of the province in the Land of Papua.”

This article has been translated by a Pacific Media Watch project contributor.