25 Apr 2006

Papua Presidium urges people to focus on autonomy not independence

11:23 am on 25 April 2006

The Papua Council Presidium is urging leaders and people in Indonesia's Papua province to focus on its Special Autonomy Laws rather than seeking independence.

A spokesman for the Presidium, Franzalbert Joku, says Papuans should ignore the euphoria surrounding Australia's granting of asylum to 42 Papuans and instead embrace the legitimate political reforms currently under way to address their long-standing grievances.

Mr Joku says while implementation of Special Autonomy since the laws were enacted six years ago has been flawed, Papuans must work with their elected representatives to ensure it does work for them.

He questions why Papuans would run away from these responsibilities and seek comfort in Australia when they could be participating in the development of their homeland.

"The only thing that is realistic and that is on the table, I can reach out and touch is the Autonomy Laws. Whatever stage of its implementation, it is there. Compared with talking about independence which isn't there at all, it is an idealistic notion that Papuans and the supporters of independence have.

Franzalbert Joku