The Challenge of Resolving Human Rights Violations in Papua

ELSAM, Jakarta – The tragedy of mosque burning and community conflict in Tolikara Regency, Papua, has added to the series of conflicts in the eastern part of Indonesia. The incident, occurring when Moslems were about to attend Ied prayers, was intensely discussed in the social media, and disrupted religious harmony in Indonesia.

Conflict in Papua, which has occurred since the 1960s, has not been resolved in a fair manner by the state. The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), held a discussion intended to find opportunities to resolve human rights violations in Papua. On a related note, the opportunity to resolve the issue in the form of a legal product, namely the Law on Papuan Special Autonomy, has provided the formation of a human rights court for Papua, however, this has not been implemented.

According to Amiruddin al Rahab, in the last ten years, the Law on Papuan Special Autonomy has proven that its articles have been adequate to resolve cases and find facts. However, this has not been realised due to a number of factors. He also added that in the process of reconciliation, trust must be built between the government and the Papuans.

“First, reconciliation in the Papuan context is intended to justify the situation, however, what actually transpired was the opposite. There was no consensus between actors, resulting in difficulties in the discussion on reconciliation. Second, there was a lack of clarity in the formulation of the security for prosperity approach in the Papuan context, especially on the function of the Military Regional Command in Papua. On the map of conflict resolution, the main issue is human rights, while the government focuses on investment and infrastructure. Our challenge in advancing resolution is combining development and human rights,” explained Amir, as an observer of Papuan human rights, in the discussion in Oria Hotel, Jakarta, 5 August 2015.

The challenge of conflict resolution in Papua is also inseparable from the attitude of the military. According to the Program Director of Imparsial, Al Araf, the government is inconsistent, for using the security approach in handling conflict in Papua. He states that the repressive Presidential Regulation on the military structure is also part of the problem.

“Publicly, the government states that it will use the prosperity approach. However, the security approach is used in fact. For the Eastern Indonesia region, a new Kostrad division is being raised. Thus, it is difficult to speak about the prosperity approach in the context of Papua while the government is developing military power in Papua. Horizontal conflicts are also the result of coordination to legitimate the military regime, through creation of military power zones,” explained Al Araf.

As Al Araf explains, the complexity of the Papuan issue is that the conflicts are not only vertical, but also horizontal, thus demanding a holistic approach. According to Kamala Chandra Kirana, anticipation of horizontal conflict is done through creation of horizontal networks to discuss conflict potentials.

“We have to develop a complex strategy involving various arenas, including political, legal, cultural and youth, resulting in a variety of constituents. This can be done by including, for example, women movements. Therefore, we are dependent on a single arena, on the political elites, which make resolution difficult,” she states.

According to Budi Hernawan, conflict resolution in Papua also needs a multicultural policy approach, as the population of Papua do not consist only of indigenous peoples, but also migrants.
“Multiculturalism is important, as the community issues in Papua are sensitive and more complex than mere opposition to government apparatus,” explained Budi, who is an observer of Papuan human rights.

In the context of mass media reporting of conflict in papua, Viktor, as the representative of Indonesian Journalists Association (AJI) in Papua, notes a strategy of the government to obscure information about Papua in Jakarta.

“The mass media in Jakarta always report blood, violence and conflict in Papua. While these do occur, there are much other information. For example, in the sports, the Jayapuran football team (Persipura) is worth reporting. What is occurring in Papua is not much understood by outsiders. AJI feels that it is likely that the government or state is obscuring information about Papua in Jakarta,” explained Viktor in the forum.

Writer: Lintang Setianti
Editor: Ari Yurino