.Posted: 2000 - By Charles Scheiner


Papua New Guinea

(translation provided by Theo van den Broek)

Presentation by Catholic Churchleaders in Papua in
27 JUNE 2000

By The Office for Justice & Peace
Jayapura Diocese


I.1. Basic attitude of the Papuans

First of all it is worthwhile to note that the Papuans have a very fundamental attitude, namely the desire to "regulate themselves". Throughout the history of their existence, Papuans have proven to be able to regulate themselves so as to be able to maintain their existence for centuries. This fundamental attitude has also been shown by the Papuans to everybody and whatever agency that indicated any tendency to reduce their chances to regulate themselves. Such an attitude was shown in their encounter with the Dutch government, missionaries, traders and newcomers in general. It was not surprising, therefore, that any agency that wants to "control" the Papuans usually resorted to violence. In view of that fundamental attitude, it was also not surprising that December 1, 1961 was written with golden letters in the pages of Papuan history, as at that time the Dutch government gave a very agreeable perspective with that fundamental attitude, namely initiating "the process of freedom". Loss of such perspective in an international political game in the sixties left a deep scar in them.

I.2. Three factual elements

While bearing the above fundamental attitude in mind, special attention should be given to three factual elements that also underlie Papuan problems today:

1. A complex of experience during the last decades, commonly referred to as the collective "Memoria Passionis", or "memory of suffering". These suffering experiences found their sources in:

a.the development policy followed by the Indonesian government during that last 38 years;

b. the occurrence of dozens of human right violations in Papuan territory during its integration in the Republic of Indonesia.

c. the behavior of the Indonesian armed forces in this territory, commonly marked by arrogance and high-handed show of power.

2. Events during Papuan history, such as:

a. Program toward freedom initiated by the Dutch Government on December 1, 1961 by (1) nominating representatives of local community to 50% of the total members of Nieuw Guinea Raad (parliament); (2) flying Morning Star Flag beside the Dutch flag; and (3) socializing the national anthem "Oh Papua, My Land".

b. The adoption of New York Agreement (NYA) of 1962 as the basis of transfer of the Nederlands Nieuw Guinea from the Dutch to the Indonesian governments. This basic agreement was taken without the participation of Papuans themselves in the negotiation.

c. The Determination of People's Opinion (PEPERA) in 1969 was implemented incorrectly as it was accompanied by intimidation, coercion, torture, and unilateral interpretation of conditions of the implementation that was laid down in the NYA, so that it was legally flawed.

3. Protest of the public has not been heard nor responded seriously by the ruler, thus:

a. The Papuans have never felt that their dignity and identity as real men were recognized;

b. The Papuans have never felt that they were recognized and protected as full Indonesian citizens with all rights and obligations, as it was provided in paragraph 4 of the preamble of the constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (the 1945 Constitution).

I.3. Silence because of helplessness

The sufferings summarized above finally produced a community that was deeply disappointed, scared, felt isolated, used as an object of projects and that kept its anger for so many years. It is quite natural that one day this "memory of collective suffering" would reveal itself and become a source of "strength in the struggle", provided an opportunity is given to it.

I.4. Explanatory material

A number of writings help further clarification of what have been summarized above. We attach those writings:

1. Report of Father Haripranoto S.J. in 1967, entitled "Retrospection on the New Order in one and a half years in the Capital city of West Irian";

2. Article prepared by the Secretariat for Justice and Peace (SKP) of Jayapura Diocese, March 1999, entitled "Papuan National Dialogue, a story of "Memoria Passionis";

3. Report of the Group of Concern with Community, Kiwirok Sub-district, June 2000, entitled "The Case of Heapkauweng Taplo's Murder".

4. A number of special reports published by the Secretariat for Justice and Peace, Jayapura Diocese, on human right violations in Papua.

II. The Development of M (Freedom) Aspiration Movement

The development of M Aspiration Movement (GERASEM) takes place through the following stages:

1. Initially (May 1998 - July 1998 period) the disappointment of Papuan community was revealed in a number of demonstrations, a part of which was related to certain policy elements, such as: transmigration program, denial of traditional rights on land, exploitation of natural resources, lack of opportunity for local community to take part in state administration, etc. and some others were related to human right violations.

2. After the bloody event in Biak (July 6, 1998), the protests began to change its tone to be "more political", as Papuan community felt deeply frustrated when the peaceful demonstration during the reform era in Biak continued to be responded by the security apparatus with violence only.

3. On the eve of the National Dialogue (February 1999) the political tone resounded even stronger. It was not surprising that in the direct meeting between 100 representatives of Papuan People (Team of 100) and President Habibie, it was expressed clearly that the Papuan People have been fed up, have not had confidence any longer in the Indonesian government and strongly demanded that Papuan freedom/sovereignty be recognized according to the fact that had been established back in 1961.

4. The statement before the President and his cabinet was welcomed enthusiastically by wide sections of Papuan community. This response served as a very strong indication that wide sections of the community really supported the revealed direction of struggle. Furthermore, the people began to organize themselves through Command Posts, a very simple mass organizing, nevertheless it became an effective means of popularizing the "M (freedom) aspiration" struggle. The M aspiration has become a daily talk of the community of all strata.

5. Internally GERASEM organization has not been developed rapidly, so that its leadership and program appeared somewhat abstract. Leadership began to be an open discourse after November 12, 1999, when Theys Eluay announced a plan to fly the Morning Star flag throughout Papuan territory as from December 1, 1999.

6. From December 1, 1999 some new figures/leaders emerged and began to direct GERASEM by bringing Papuan aspirations to the local and central parliaments. Meanwhile, President Abdurrahman Wahid's visit on December 31, 1999 was utilized to deliver an initial step for the organizational consolidation by the announcement about the convocation of a Papuan Congress. At the same time President Wahid agreed to change the name of Irian Jaya into Papua, and for the first time the Indonesian government officially apologized for human right violations that had been committed.

7. Recently, the organizational consolidation was conducted in two phases: (a) the convocation of a Great Deliberation, 24 - 28 February 2000; and (b) Papuan Congress II, May 29 - June 4, 2000. In the latest development, a "political party" was formed as a means to promote the M Aspiration, so that on June 23, 2000 the Papuan National Front (FNP) was officiated under the leadership of Mr. Herman Wayoi, a historical Papuan figure.

8. During this organizational consolidation process there was a shift in the emphasis of different aspects of struggle. If in the early stage of the struggle much emphasis was given to "the settlement of human right violations", in the latest development emphasis was given more to the "straightening of history" as the basis and direction of struggle.

As supplementary materials we can mention:

1. The resolution of the Papuan Congress II;

2. Article by Dr. Benny Giyai, entitled "Toward a New Papua", May 2000.

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