Saturday, April 16, 2011

Session IV: Papua and Aceh

Neles Tebay: Indigenous Papuans’ efforts for ending conflict with Indonesia

Neles Tebay’s presentation provided a context of the Papua/Indonesian conflict. The invasion of Indonesia into Papua began in 1963 and is still ongoing. As a result, numerous human rights violations were inflicted and continue to this day. The basic framework presents two diverging views from the warring countries and Mr. Tebay fears until an understanding is reached the conflict will persist. Papua views itself as an occupied country struggling for self-determination against a colonial power whereas Indonesia maintains their rightful annex of Papua.

Additionally, Mr. Tebay noted that the Indonesian political policies are directed at preventing any separatist movements. As such, Indonesia has implemented policies to isolate Papua from the rest of world and refuses to allow any foreigners including journalists, researchers, and activists from entering the country. In contrast, Papuans judge every action towards their country by Indonesia by their own cultural values including: abundance of life, the prospect of leaders and laws that produce prosperity, community life (including the living, the dead, nature, and natural resources), and the inherently unequal relationship between Indonesia and Papua. Mr. Tebay reminded the conference that Papua is not only interested in political freedoms, but these cultural ideals as well.

Furthermore, Papuans have strongly pursued self-determination since 1998 by establishing the Free Papua Movement, jungle militias, and attacks on security stations in Papua. The four issues in which these groups seek redress include: self-determination in 1969, human rights violations, neglect of socio-economic and social rights, and the marginalization and discrimination of the indigenous population. Lastly, Mr. Tebay expressed the desire of Papuans to shift from violence to peaceful discourse with the Indonesian government. The Papuan opposition reached out to the Indonesian government, but is still waiting for this reciprocation in Jakarta.

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