The demonstration Of pro-Indonesia Papuan organisation called Barisan Merah Putih – BMP (Red and White Coalition) and Barisan Rakyat Pembela NKRI – BARA NKRI (Indonesia Defenders People’s Front) in May, June and July 2016 have attracted thousands people both Papuans and non-Papuan who used to be silent in responding to the small separatist group in Papua and West Papua Indonesia.
In connection with the demonstrations, the two main demands are defending democracy and anti separatist sentiment, especially against the evil cunning West Papua National Committee or Komite Nasional West Papua (KNPB) and United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), which repeatedly instigated conflict in Papua and West Papua.
Democracy is about channeling people’s aspirations and in the case of West Papua and Papua provinces, The moves of KNPB, ULMWP and several other similar organisations including the armed wing of Free West Papua Campaign may looked like voicing people’s demand, but in reality majority Papuans are not supporting separatism, they simply want to end the conflict, well respected as indigenous people, live peacefully, enjoy the rich natural resources, preserve their tradition, or in short live a better life. The BMP and BARA BKRI are clearly the opposite of the separatist organisations and simply want to deliver messages representing the silent majority Papuans who want to live a better life.
Indonesia used to be an authoritarian regime and with vast and large region and populations, so the centralised government was overwhelmed with different aspirations. However, now Indonesia has democratised for 17 years, many of those grievances in Papua and West Papua have been answered democratically.
Majority nationalist Indonesians from Aceh to Papua of course regard separatist organisations as a possible threat to Indonesia’s national interests to keep the sovereignty and the success of development in Papua. Luckily, Indonesia is now a democracy and military operation to solve the separatism issue is perhaps the last option. Since 1998, the way Indonesia handle separatism was and still is very democratic and peaceful, with small incidence of security operation to protect the people from separatist violent threats.
Politically, separatist groups like KNPB and ULMWP are merely an elitist groups without mass based, with basic knowledge on the history of Papua and its problem, and not enough understanding on the aspirations of Papuan people. There is a huge possibility based on facts that these groups cooperate with foreign interests to exploit the conflicted issues to conceal their hidden agenda in continuing control over the strategic resources in Papua. In this sense, the rich natural resources in Papua and West Papua is a curse. Whatever the dynamic of the conflict, as long as the tension is high, all Papuans will suffer and have less time to negotiate the sharing of income from the exploitation of its natural resources. Whoever win the conflict, as long as the conflict takes a very very long time in reaching the solution, both pro-Indonesia and pro-separatist will be the losers because Papua’s and West Papua’s rich natural resources may already vanished by the massive exploitation.
Hopefully this simple analysis can be read by all the leaders of Papuans either the traditional ethnic group leaders or modern political leaders, and also civil society both the pro-Indonesia and pro-separatism. All Papuans must unite, at least take time to talk and discuss the peaceful solution for better Papua. Consolidation for better future of Papua is the key, and set aside the differences and concentrate on channeling people’s aspiration, stop the conflict, stop paralyzing the economy with conflict, stop instigating conflict, and start to think strategically about Papua and West Papua future.