Papuan students in a demonstration held in front of the Ministry of Home Affairs in Jakarta on Tuesday rejecting the continuation of Special Autonomy Law for Papua (14/7/2020). - Jubi/Supplied by Ambros Mulait

House passes new special autonomy law for West Papua


Jayapura, Jubi – The Indonesia House of Representatives has passed the revised Special Autonomy (Otsus) Bill into law despite continuous protests from the Papuan people rejecting the extension of the special autonomy status.


Home Minister Tito Karnavian, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, and Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights Edward Hiariej witnessed the ratification process during a plenary on Thursday, July 15, 2021.


Papua Otsus Special Committee head Komarudin Watubun said that the bill, which revised 18 articles from the 2001 Law on Special Autonomy for Papua and added two new articles, would ensure more participation of Indigenous Papuans in local politics and boost education, healthcare, and the economy of the Papuan people.



“This bill supports and accommodates the needs of Indigenous Papuans for better education, healthcare, and employment, as well as more participation in politics,” Watubun said on Thursday.


“According to the new law, there will be around 250 seat quota for Indigenous Papuans in the Papuan parliaments, as well as 30 percent quota for Papuan women,” he added.


Other changes, Watubun said, included an increase of the Special Funds, a new mechanism of the fund’s disbursement, and the establishment of the Papuan Development Plan and the Special Papuan Development Agency.


The passing of the new Otsus Law, however, sparks protests from the Papuan public, who have been lambasting the 2001 Otsus Law for failing to bring about significant changes in Papua and instead, legitimizing racism and colonialism.


Head of the West Papua National Committee in Manokwari Alexander Nekenem deemed the deliberation and passing of the “second” Otsus Law exclusive and without the consent of the Papuans.


“The Papuans are left out from the deliberation. It’s just the same as the 1969 referendum, wherein the result did not reflect the true aspirations of the Papuans,” Nekenem told Jubi on Thursday.


Read also: We’ll be extinct: West Papua church calls on international community to stop Indonesia from forcing racist Otsus Law


On Wednesday, the police arrested 24 students who were protesting against the Otsus Law in Papua’s provincial capital of Jayapura. At least five protesters were injured during the incident. Meanwhile, 40 people were arrested in Jakarta for taking to the streets rejecting the New Otsus Law on Thursday.


In Semarang, the Papua Student Association in Semarang (Hipmapas) was not allowed to hold a rally by the Indonesian security forces on Thursday. All of these protests were forcefully dispersed under the pretext of violating COVID-19 health protocols.


Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman called the revised Otsus Law a product for and by Jakarta. “Jakarta has been discussing Otsus by ignoring Otsus itself. Otsus is clearly a product for Jakarta, by Jakarta,” Koman tweeted on Thursday.

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