Indonesia sends mixed message on controversial transmigration
Indonesia's government is sending conflicting messages about the future of the controversial transmigration policy in Papua.
There are mixed messages from Indonesia's Government about the future of the controversial transmigration policy in Papua.
President Joko Widodo last week pledged to end the programme which has resulted in the dilution of the indigneous Papuan population in the restive eastern provinces.
But the transmigration minister immediately told media it would continue.
Alex Perrottet reports.
The transmigration minister, Marwan Jafar, says the programme has proved a success in Papua, particularly Merauke (Meh-rowkeh), and should be expanded.
But Papuans say migrants from Java and other islands disregard their customs and traditions, destroy the environment, and subjugates the locals economically and socially.
A pro-Papuan independence activist, Yoab Syatfle, says Papuans are outnumbered by hundreds of thousands of migrants.
"This is a big problem to West Papua because it's the impact on our culture and also impact to control of our land and our natural resources. This is a serious serious problem."
Yoab Syatfle says he doesn't believe the Indonesian President's promise to stop the policy.
Another activist, Yaphet Frangky, who is based in the West Papuan town of Merauke, says Indonesia will continue its "plunder" of the province.
He says indigenous landowners have been intimidated off their land by the Indonesian military, while palm oil companies continue to attract thousands of workers regardless of any Government policy.
"The problem is still not finished, but big big problem. The workers they don't have transmigration project but they are facilitating the people to come with more projects in Papua."
Yaphet Frangky has been involved with the victims of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate.
In 2009, authorities set apart more than a million hectares in the region for food and energy production, attracting multinationals to take advantage of food, timber, and biofuels.
One of the companies is the MEDCO Group, a huge Indonesian holding investment firm.
The largely-forested area was the home of a variety of people, including indigenous hunter-gatherers, and serious allegations of human rights abuses have emerged.
Greenomics Indonesia reported in 2011 that a moratorium on further deforestation has had no effect on limiting the destruction.
Mr Syatfle says he holds little hope in the local authorities as they are controlled by Jakarta.
"The local Government in West Papua and Papua is under control by the Indonesian Government. So both of the Governments lack the control of West Papua and the natural resources because both of the Governments are controlled by the Indonesian Government."
Meanwhile, researchers at Sydney University's west Papua project have estimated the Papuan proportion of the region's population to have dipped towards 40 percent in the past few years, with transmigration a key driver.
Marwan Jafar could not be reached for comment.
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