19 May 2016

Indonesia blamed for Papuan nationalism

5:13 am on 19 May 2016

A West Papuan theologian and activist says Papuan nationalist aspirations are a direct consequence of how the Indonesian state has treated his people.

Reverend Dr Benny Giay said West Papuans have never felt a part of Indonesian society, due to state policy towards them since the former Dutch New Guinea was incorporated into the republic in the 1960s.

West Papuans demonstrate support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

West Papuans demonstrate support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

Thousands of West Papuans have recently participated in demonstrations in major cities of Indonesia's eastern region, in support of the United Liberation Movement.

Dr Giay said Papuans have always been treated as primitive and uncivilised by Jakarta and its policies have reflected that by systematically marginalising Papuans in their own land.

"So we Papuans feel that we are not part of Indonesian modern society," he explained.

"We have not been treated that way, and I think in the fifty years of interaction with Indonesians, that process gave birth to West Papuan nationalism."

Reverend Dr Benny Giay said that when he looks back over five decades under Indonesian rule, there's been no progress in the situation.

Dr Giay said that peaceful dialogue was the approach that should be taken to resolving issues in Papua.