16 Jul 2010

Papuans told welfare, not freedom, is what they want

9:00 am on 16 July 2010

Indonesian Government Ministers have told Papuans they don't know what they want.

Last week thousands protested in the capital of Papua, Jayapura, demanding an end to the special autonomy status granted nine years because it hadn't delivered the expected benefits.

The Jakarta Globe reports the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, says Papuans are demanding freedom from Indonesia when what they really want is good welfare.

But he says Jakarta has already provided billions to develop the region.

The coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security affairs, Djoko Suyanto, says it's not up to Jakarta to monitor the region's special autonomy status.

He says if there are funds that have not been disbursed, that's for the Governor and provincial politicians to sort out.

Salmon Yumame, who heads the United Papua People's Democracy Forum, says despite the introduction of special autonomy, Papuans remained marginalized.

He says special autonomy has never touched the lives of the Papuan people, rather the money has gone to the elite and bureaucrats.