West Papua is a land of many wonders and controversies. It is famous for the many potentials and excellent beauty of its nature. On the downside, because of its rich diversity and multi layered complexities, facts and figures are often subject to lack of knowledge and harmful interests. Much to our dismay, these false information and misleading news are detrimental to the people of Papua as much as to the whole nation of Indonesia.
Recently, a group who calls themselves Front of Indonesian People for West Papua or FRI-West Papua lead by Surya Anta, a notorious counter government campaigner, has declared their support to separate West Papua from Indonesia based on various claims. These claims have been widely used by most separatist movement who wants to divide West Papua from Indonesia. It is interesting to note that these claims are mostly, once again, false and misleading. FRI-West Papua base their separatist movement on five claims. Each claim is sadly as misinformed as the prior.
Their first claim is that there’s historical fraud and deception regarding West Papua as a part of Indonesia and they support the separation of West Papua from Indonesia by using referendum mechanism. However, West Papua has become a part of the Republic of Indonesia by referendum, which is historically and internationally acknowledged. During the decolonization process, it was agreed that Indonesia’s territory is all former Netherlands territory. Indonesia’s territory is all Netherlands-Indie ex-territory. Therefore, Papua is included as an integral part of all ex colonial territory of Netherlands. It is also in line with the international customary law regarding the agreement on transfer of sovereignty between Indonesia and Netherlands.
It is in accordance with uti posseditis juris where the territory of a new post colonial country would be accorded with the territory prior to its independence. This principle is essential to be held in high regard by the international community because it serves to preserve the boundaries of colonies emerging as States. It’s obvious purpose is to prevent the independence and stability of new States being endangered by fratricidal struggles provoked by the challenging of frontiers following the withdrawal of the administering power. In the case of Papua, a clear and valid inclusion of Papua as a part of Indonesia was carried out through People’s Referendum (Pepera) in 1969. The implementation was also as agreed upon by Indonesia and Netherlands in accordance with the New York Agreement of 1962, which was mediated by USA.
Racial discrimination also comes up next in their claim which was magnified by the claim of Benny Wenda, the leader of a prominent separatist group of West Papua, who claimed that Apartheid that happened in South Africa also happens in Papua. Perhaps, they know little of the real horror of Apartheid.
Apartheid emerged in South Africa on 1948. The all-white government immediately began enforcing existing policies of racial segregation under a system of legislation that it called apartheid. Under apartheid, nonwhite South Africans (a majority of the population) would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities, and contact between the two groups would be limited.
However, long before apartheid began. The controversial 1913 Land Act, passed three years after South Africa gained its independence, marked the beginning of territorial segregation by forcing black Africans to live in reserves and making it illegal for them to work as sharecroppers.
By 1950, the government had banned marriages between whites and people of other races, and prohibited sexual relations between black and white South Africans. The Population Registration Act of 1950 provided the basic framework for apartheid by classifying all South Africans by race, including Bantu (black Africans), Colored (mixed race) and white. A fourth category, Asian (meaning Indian and Pakistani) was later added.
In some cases, the legislation split families; parents could be classified as white, while their children were classified as colored. Apartheid became more refined in 1958 where the policy seeps further into a system referred to as “separate development.” The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 created 10 Bantu homelands known as Bantustans. Separating black South Africans from each other enabled the government to claim there was no black majority, and reduced the possibility that blacks would unify into one nationalist organization. Every black South African was designated as a citizen as one of the Bantustans, a system that supposedly gave them full political rights, but effectively removed them from the nation’s political body.
The most devastating part of Apartheid is when the government forcibly removed black South Africans from rural areas designated as “white” to the homelands, and sold their land at low prices to white farmers. From 1961 to 1994, more than 3.5 million people were forcibly removed from their homes and deposited in the Bantustans, where they were plunged into poverty and hopelessness.
These kinds of policies never exist in West Papua. As a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, the Papuan people never have any legal differences with the migrants from other parts of Indonesia. This issue is only used by separatists to gain support from political figures of South Africa. While the truth is, it only serves certain interests and not the interests of the Papuan people. The people of Papua have enjoyed all of the benefits and rights as the citizen of Indonesia, from scholarships to health care. So, does racial discrimination and even Apartheid occur in West Papua?
Surya Anta as the leader and spoke person of FRI-West Papua also accuse slow genocide on the people of Papua by the Government of Indonesia. This is once again proven false. Genocide is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Yet, based on the valid data, the population growth of indigenous people of Papua has increased in the last 40 years, from 1972 to 2010. Which is around 1.2 million people, or more than twice the population.
This is after the many challenges presented by the challenging environment of Papua that has been the biggest cause of mortality due to hard access to health care and also poses extra problems for census. On the contrary, the Indonesian Government has taken special care of the welfare and development of the Papuan people, from health care developments up to special care to family welfare.
Human rights violations also comes next to be used as a sad instrument to broadcast their campaign. However, many are proven hoax and news from people who wants to stir havoc in the national unity. Indonesia is the third biggest democratic country in the world with strong commitment to human rights protection. With credible national mechanism to protect human rights, such as Indonesian Human Rights Committee, national laws from the ratification of international instruments regarding human rights, Indonesia is mature in its ability to manage human rights affairs in their own country.
Indonesia is also among the few countries that already has Human Rights national Action Plan, which currently is the fourth generation, from 2015 to 2019. Indonesia also has active Human Rights Committee since 1993, assuring the maintenance of human rights protection in Indonesia. Papuan issues on human rights are also Indonesia’s human rights issues, as a nation, as whole unity, as a country.
The robbery of West Papua resources came in last, but of course not least. While Papua is indeed a rich land, it is also comes in package with the challenging natural environment. However, developments keep being carried out by the Government of Indonesia. From health access trhough Papua Health Card, infrastructures in transportation such as sea toll, trans papua road, and so on; scholarships, and of course economic infrastructures which enable Papua to accelerate their developments.
Papua as a part of Indonesia has been enjoying many developments, moreover with decentralization, Papua and West Papua provinces have the right to self actualize themselves under the local government, in synergy with the central government. Laws are also present to preserve and maintain the resources of Papua to be able to serve the purpose of the Papuan people.
The members of FRI-West Papua are planning to have a demonstration rally on early December from Hotel Indonesia to the Presidential Palace based on their claims. These members of FRI-West Papua consist of non Papuan born people who claim that they are concerned over the injustice of the Papuan people. Indeed it is very easy to claim one’s knowledge of another group’s suffering without ever understanding exactly what the group is experiencing and act as if it is for the good of the group they represent. However, is it really the interests of the Papuan people that they hold dear?
Surya Anta, the leader and spoke person of FRI-West Papua, himself is notorious for free riding causes, from throwing outcries to topple the administration of President Joko Widodo, and now supporting West Papua separatism. One must wonder, which master does he serve? Is it the interests of the Papua people, or interested parties and his own?
FRI-West Papua, signed under the name of Surya Anta, has made a declaration that they claimed as their commitment of concerns towards the faith of the people of Papua. Fueled by this declaration, they mobilize the Papuan mass and information under this claim. Yet from the facts and checked information, these concerns are proven false. Some people push forward a cause to promote their own agenda and in the end, the people whose cause are being used become the casualties. Sadly, it might be just the case with FRI-West Papua, the brain work of Surya Anta.