Racial abuse of Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, has sparked massive protests across the country and riots in Manokwari and Sorong, two big cities in the country's easternmost part, Papua.
As a researcher with an interest in Papua, I observed a protest near the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday. Protesters cursed the Indonesian government, which they referred to as colonialist, for decades of human right abuse and maltreatment.
President - Joko - Jokowi - Widodo - Papuans
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on Papuans to forgive their fellow citizens who offended them. He also ordered police to take stern action on the case to reduce tensions but they have failed to calm the protesters.
Jokowi's efforts to mend the government's relationship with Papuan people, which include massive infrastructure projects, do not seem to be working.
Problems - Government - Approaches - Conflicts - Papua
I believe the main problems lie in the government's approaches to solving conflicts in Papua, bringing discontent to its people.
Papua joined Indonesia in 1963 under the New York Agreement. The agreement allowed a 1969 referendum for Papuans to decide their fate: to join or not join Indonesia. The referendum resulted in Papua joining Indonesia, a decision some Papuans deemed unfair as despite being under United Nations supervision, it involved only 1,022 delegates, all handpicked by authorities in Jakarta.
Separatist - Movements - Referendum - Result - Continue
Separatist movements challenging the referendum's result continue to this day.
To suppress these rebellious groups, the government has been deploying military forces in conflict areas. For non-conflict areas, the government engages only with local elites, the parties it knows it can work with.
Approaches - Flaws - Approach - Creates - Resentment
Both approaches have flaws. The military approach creates fear and resentment, while the elite approach only reaches a few people in power.
The latest data show that Papua has a population of 4.32 million people, spread between its two provinces, Papua and West Papua.
Solution - Problems - Papua - Government
I argue that the only solution to the problems in Papua is for the government...
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