Papuans feel let down by development record
The Indonesian government under new president Joko Widodo has pinpointed grassroots empowerment as its core approach to development in Papua region, however Jakarta continues to face criticism about ongoing poor human and economic development outcomes for West Papuans.
The Indonesian government under new president Joko Widodo has pinpointed grassroots empowerment as its core approach to development in Papua region.
However, Jakarta continues to face criticism about ongoing poor human and economic development outcomes for West Papuans.
Johnny Blades has more.
One year into power, the Jokowi government appears to have done more groundwork than previous administrations about the development needs of Papuans.
The head of a government taskforce on development in Papua, Judith Dipodiputro is overseeing the construction of a major new market in Sentani for Papuan Mamas to sell homegrown and fresh products.
The market is an integrated complex with education and health facilities, which looks to equip Papuans with skills to compete in modern market mechanisms.
"Because the idea is that the communities have to be part of the supply chain that exists in Papua. And hopefully one day outside Papua. And this supply chain starts from their village. They should be able to produce in an amount that allows them to become traders and not keep on being barters. But then again we need to educate them."
But among Papuans, Jakarta has a reputation for talking and not so much for listening.
It's partly why the Special Autonomy package granted to Papua some fifteen years ago, and designed to provide for improved health and education services as well as economic opportunity for the region's indigenous people, is deemed a failure by many Papuans.
Wynand Watory is a former Papuan political leader.
"Autonomy is the middle way but after 15 years implemented special autonomy, making this a big problem for people right now. And then we have no future. Why? Because the situation in education and health and economy it has not changed. But right now people have, migrants from Indonesia have come to Papua, made the problems become big for us."
The continuing pattern of transmigration - both state-sponsored and spontaneous - whereby people from other, over-populated parts of Indonesia are resettled in Papua is identified by the likes of the Governor of Papua province, Lucas Enembe, as a factor holding Papuan development back.
"I have said to media that I refuse transmigration from outside Papua coming into Papua. But I do support local migration from one place in Papua to other places in Papua. Why I refuse migration like transmigration is because it triggers more unemployment for the native Papuans. There are many native Papuans that live in poverty. Then the question is 'do we have enough capacity to compete with other migrants coming in to Papua from other places."
Various national government figures argue transmigration is beneficial to Papuans because it encourages them to learn new skills and to compete in modern systems.
One government spokesperson explained that Indonesians have a right to move around the republic without hindrance.
But the Governor warns that transmigration introduces new social problems and further dilutes Papuan culture.
"If you asked me 10 or 20 years again in the future, I thought Papuans might be gone already, if we don't protect them. I mean, they'll vanish because nowadays we haven't got the exact number of Papuans but it's decreasing very rapidly."
Governor Enembe has proposed a new autonomy package, Special Autonomy Plus, which he says will provide Papuans proper access to the economy, education and health.
He says he also wants to secure Papuans more control of the lucrative development of their vast natural resources, including minerals, liquefied natural gas and forestry, which have been exploited for years without Papuans seeing many benefits.
A West Papuan NGO representative on rights and development Septer Manufandu, says the government must address these core disadvantages.
"Papua people like traumatised about the situation. Traumatised just, we can deal not with, deal with the money, deal with how to build the trust, and build the communication. When we want to, talking about the trust, talking about the traumatise we invite them, sit together and talking. Not just blame you lack of capacity, not just blame them primitive, not just blame you already sent more money to the Government here."
Mr Manufandu is weary about government plans to carve up another province out of Papua region, which is currently two provinces.
He says Papuans need development, not more provinces.
"When we're talking about development, concrete development in the district and in the sub-district, how do government create good facility in education, health, in the sub-district and the district - [and] not create more problems ... it seems like we create the new problems."
The strong presence of Indonesia's military and security forces in Papua, as well as their conduct, is often blamed for ongoing independence aspirations of West Papuans.
However Judith Dipodiputro says the main grievance for Papuans is poverty.
She expects the impacts of Jakarta's grassroots approach to development to help foster more of a sense of satisfaction among Papuans with being part of Indonesia.
"Of course, because the majority of our people are grassroots, the majority of Indonesian, is really large on the bottom. The problem of Papua is not unique to Papua. We have poverty, and education, lack of competitiveness, lack of basic infrastructure all over Indonesia. So by taking Papua we are making pilots that can be replicated all over Indonesia. And this will also bring the Papuans outside Papua where they can become the ones to teach, and they will teach it better because they really started at the very bottom compared with other tribes."
While the Jokowi administration's development programme has earned praise, it's unlikely to quell calls from Papuans for dialogue with Jakarta - not just about the need for development but also adherence to Papuans' basic human rights.
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