‘Public Hearing on Human rights situation in South East Asia with special focus on West Papua’
29 November 2011
By Dr Neles Tebay
Coordinator of the Papua Peace Network and Rector of the ‘Fajar Timur’ Catholic School of Philosophy and Theology, Jayapura
First of all, I would like to apologize for not being able to be with you and among you in this important meeting. I have taken the decision to not coming to Brussels, because the tension in West Papua now is running high. The Papuans are preparing themselves to celebrate 1st of december. More Indonesian security forces are being deployed in West Papua. Many people here are worried and restless. Therefore, I have decided to stay among and with People here in this time of crisis.
I would like to thank you for allowing me to share my observation and opinion about the relationship between Indonesia and West Papua.
The relationship between Jakarta-based government and the Papuans has been and is still being characterized by mutual suspicion and mistrust.
West Papua under Indonesian rule has become a land of violent conflicts.
The conflict derives from different interpretation of the integration of West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia.
Indonesia considers that West Papua is an integral part of its territory. West Papua, then, should always be maintained as Indonesia’s territory.
Therefore Papuan resistance is considered as a threat to the Indonesia’s territorial integrity.
The eradication of separatist movement in West Papua has been reason to justify all forms of state violence against the Papuans and human rights abuses committed against the Indigenous Papuans.
I think, more human rights violations will likely continue to happen in the future because thousands of additional troops have been deployed in West Papua and the root cause of the Papua conflict has not been addressed yet .
Meanwhile many indigenous Papuans see their ancestral land of West Papua is occupied by Indonesian military. They feel that they have been and are still being colonized by Indonesia.
Therefore they have been raising their resistance against a colonial power on their ancestral land. Their resistance has been manifested through violent and non-violent means. I see that the Papuans will continue raising their resistance against Indonesian rule by any means.
I think, it is now the time for the central government and the Indigenous Papuans to think about policies to end the human rights violations.
I do believe that more human rights violations are likely to occur in West Papua unless the root causes of Papuan separatism are resolved.
So it is important for the both parties to engage in a constructive dialogue to identify these root causes of separatism and settle them without unnecessary bloodshed.
The good news is that the Indonesian government under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indigenous Papuans have expressed publicly their willingness to engage in dialogue to seek peaceful solutions to the Papua conflict.
President Yudhoyono is commited to settle the Papua conflict through dialogue. He has publicly announced the government’commitment to engage in dialogue with the Papuans to seek better solutions and options to setle the grievances in West Papua.
So, If I may suggest, I would like to ask the European Union, including the European Parliament and the European Commission, to support the Indonesian government’s initiative for an open dialogue with the Papuans to settle peacefully the Papua conflict. The European Union can offer any necessary assistance in order to support the government of Indonesia so that the Papua conflcit can be settled through an open dialogue with the the Indigenous Papuans.
Thank you so much for your understanding and attention.