President Joko Widodo and his wife (left) with two AlJazeera's Journalists Step Vaessen and Bobby Gunawan (right) and Jubi's journalist, Victor Mambor (second from right) - Jubi's doc

Interview with President Joko Widodo : Handling West Papua on Jokowi’s Way

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President Joko Widodo and his wife (left) with two AlJazeera's Journalists Step Vaessen and Bobby Gunawan (right) and Jubi's journalist, Victor Mambor (second from right) - Jubi's doc
President Joko Widodo and his wife (left) with two AlJazeera’s Journalists Step Vaessen and Bobby Gunawan (right) and Jubi’s journalist, Victor Mambor (second from right) – Jubi’s doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to Papua from 9 – 10 May included a stop at Pasar Pharaa, traditional market, at Sentani, the launch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPDN)’s new building, a visit to Holtekamp Bridge, the launch of public insurance cards and the granting of pardon for five Papuan political prisoners. The day after, he continued his mission to Merauke, Manokwari and Papua New Guinea.

After the ceremony of clemency to five Papuan political prisoners at the Abepura Prison on Saturday (9/5/2015), Aljazeera had opportunity for exclusive interview with the President Joko Widodo held at VIP lounge of Abepura Prison. Aljazeera set the interview topic on the president’s next step after the pardon granting, Jakarta – Papua Dialogue and the access for foreign journalists in Papua.

Here are excerpts from Aljazeera’s interview with Jokowi, summarized by Jubi:

– What the next step after the release of the five political prisoners?
President Jokowi : We must open a new chapter. All of us. So, we freed the (political) prisoners and invited them to develop Papua as land of peace.

– There’s a lot of political prisoners in Papua and Ambon, will you free them all?
President Jokowi : Yes, all of them. We’ve just started. After this we will release all political prisoners and invite them to develop Papua, Maluku and Indonesia as well.

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– What is the best way to release them?
President Jokowi : If they filed clemency requests, we can approve it within two weeks. But if they asked for amnesty, it must have approval from Parliament first. So it’s up to them. If they wanted a pardon, it’s prompt action. But if they wanted an amnesty, they should wait the parliament’s approval. But I don’t know whether the parliament will approve it or not.

– The political prisoners want an amnesty but they were granted with a pardon. According to them, it should be an agreement.
President Jokowi : No. This is my idea, not theirs (political prisoners). They could agree on it, because it’s my idea and I the one who granted it.

– What is this clemency for them also means rehabilitation?
President Jokowi : Yes automatically. It means they have already free and automatically been rehabilitated. I’ve been confirmed about such problems. I have asked the vice governor to assist them for solution, whether it is related to the problem of work or health problem. If it couldn’t deal with it, I will directly handle it from Jakarta.

– It might be confusion among the political prisoners whether they will receive a pardon or amnesty. One of them said he is disappointed as he thought he might get an amnesty.
President Jokowi : No. We have explained it. I thought they already knew that the clemency is the president’s initiative, not theirs.

– Does it mean they are free from all charges that prior accused to them?
President Jokowi : Yes, they are. They have granted (a pardon).

– Some people are assuming that it is only for self-imaging?
President Jokowi : No. We have prepared this since December last year. We have talked with everyone in here. But, indeed it needs time. It requires several stages and we want all of them to be released. But we couldn’t make it. We could only release five persons. That’s it. We expect it could be applied for all prisoners at the next stage. We want it’s all done promptly.

– Papuan leaders want a dialogue with the government, which is at this stage you are the president. Will you conduct a political dialogue with the people of Papua?
President Jokowi : No more problems in Papua. What is dialogue for? I’ve often come here and talked with the customary leaders, religious leaders, regents, and the mayor as well. What is that mean? It’s a dialogue, isn’t it?

– But it’s all about the development and economy, not about politic or political situation?
President Jokowi : Yes, our politic in Papua is the politic of development, politic of welfare.

– You are not talking about the past? The problems encountered by Papuans in the past?
President Jokowi : It’s closed. We must open the new chapter. We must look ahead. .

– What about the access for foreign journalist in Papua?
President Jokowi : Starting from tomorrow (Sunday,10/5) we open the access for foreign journalist. No problem.

– It means special permit is not required anymore?
President Jokowi : What else? Needs a permit from Jakarta? No, no, no!

– And from Clearing house?
President Jokowi : Yes, it requires or not?

– Foreign journalists have permit to work in Indonesia, but if they want to come to Papua, they need a special permit.
President Jokowi : No, no, no!

– So, there would no clearing house?
President Jokowi : No!

– So starting tomorrow the foreign journalist is free to come to Papua?
President Jokowi : Go ahead.

– Are you sure?
President Jokowi : Yes I am. I have said this to the officials here in Papua. I’ve talked to ministers, officials at the Indonesian Police, Military. All of them. Isn’t it enough?

– What about the resolution of Paniai case (the shooting against four students in Enarotali)
President Jokowi : I’ll give the answer later. If I answer it now it could eclipse the granting of pardon issue.

– Thank you

(Victor Mambor/rom)

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