Special autonomy has failed in the Papua region, with violence and discrimination continuing to plague the two provinces, a major study by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has concluded.
The institute, also known as LIPI, released a report, “Papua Road Map: Negotiating the Past, Improving the Present and Securing the Future,” on Tuesday after an in-depth investigation by five researchers from LIPI’s Center for Political Studies from 2004 to 2008.
Muridan S. Widjojo, one of the researchers, writers and the editor of the report, said that his team dealt with many classes and elements of society in Papua and West Papua, including ordinary residents and members of separatist movements, before coming to the conclusion that the region was facing four recurring problems.
He said that these problems were the marginalization of Papuans and its discriminatory effects; the failure of education, development and the empowerment of the small-scale economy; the use of violence by the state and violations of human rights, in the past and present; and contradictory historical understandings of political identity or status.
“You can say that the special autonomy was born defective, grows on toxic food and is gradually dying ,” Muridan said. “The whole political process was set from the beginning to fail.”
Aside from highlighting the problems, the report also offers solutions. Muridan said the government needed to immediately launch comprehensive programs to help Papuans develop their natural and human resources so they could enjoy parity with the rest of the nation.
He advocated a limited affirmative action program to reduce marginalization, and significant investment in building quality education and health facilities and supporting the provinces’ economies.
Muridan also said the government should deal directly with investigating and solving cases of violence and human rights abuses. “If possible, to bring them to court; if not, then by reconciliation,” he said. “It should be done in order to heal deep-set wounds.”
However, Muridan said that unlike Aceh, international community involvement would not be necessary if the government built productive dialogue.
Government failure to redress the problems, he said, was unlikely to result in secession but would damage Indonesia’s image as a democratic nation. He said that calls for independence were only a symptom of the larger problems in Papua.
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono acknowledged that Papuans felt neglected and mistreated by the central authorities since integration in 1963.
He said that both sides needed to improve their mutual understanding that Papuans, like other Indonesians, were citizens of the unitary state of Indonesia.