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Thursday, 6 January 2022 - 15:14 WIB

Papuan groups continue voicing opposition to Special Autonomy Law

The participants of the press conference the Petition of the People of Papua in Jayapura on Wednesday (5/1/2021). - Jubi/Benny Mawel

The participants of the press conference the Petition of the People of Papua in Jayapura on Wednesday (5/1/2021). - Jubi/Benny Mawel

Jubi TV – As many as 113 civil society organizations members of the Papuan People’s Petition (PRP) have once again voiced their rejection against the Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law, which was amended in July 2021.

The PRP emphasized that the Papua Otsus Law had been imposed by force by Jakartan elites without hearing and taking into account the voices and demands of the Indigenous Papuan people.

“The PRP has collected the signatures of the Papuan people in Papua, Indonesia, and the international community for the petition. The wave of protests by the people continues to rise from 2019 to 2021,” said Jefri Wenda, the national spokesperson for the PRP during a press conference in Jayapura on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

The rejection of Otsus has led to the arrest and imprisonment of activists in numerous cities in Papua, including PRP international spokesperson Victor Yeimo. According to Wenda, the Papuan People’s Petition has reached 718,179 supporters who voted against the Otsus Law.

“The fact that the state forced the continuation of Otsus cannot be separated from the passing the Omnibus bill on job creation into law. They serve the interests of capitalists, colonialists, and the military in Papua,” said Wenda.

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On July 15 last year, the House of Representatives passed the new Papua Special Autonomy Law. The new regulation extended the allocation of autonomy funds for Papua until 2041 and increased the funds from 2 to 2.25 percent.

The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in its latest report said that the amended Otsus Law also revised eighteen clauses in the previous law and added two new provisions. In short, the amendments brought about three fundamental changes to Papuan autonomy: a weakened provincial authority, greater fiscal control from the central government, and a reconfiguration of political representation for Indigenous Papuans.

Under the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, provincial governors and legislators have the authority to allocate Special Autonomy funds, sign off on key central government policies relating to Papua including infrastructure projects, and approve the creation of new provinces and districts. However, the new law authorizes the central government to channel Otsus funds directly to cities and regencies, without going through the province first. The provincial government can now only provide recommendations to the central government.

The new law also stipulates a list of indicators that must be used as the basis for distributing Otsus funds between local governments. This includes the overall population, the indigenous Papuan population, the level of development, and construction costs.

IPAC mentioned that the unilateral amendment to the Special Autonomy Law has the potential to create new conflicts. “Seeing the protests over these amendments, it appears that there is a risk of creating new ‘hotspots’ for violent mobilization,” said Sana Jaffrey, the director of IPAC.

Jaffrey added that President Jokowi should use his political capital to build consensus on implementing the new law if he wants to succeed.

However, the PRP views Otsus as a product of a conspiracy between the Papuan elite and the Jakarta elite. The policy does not at all accommodate the views of the Indigenous Papuans. The House’s decision to pass the Otsus bill into law does not make Papuans as Otsus has, in fact, failed to provide welfare for Indigenous Papuans throughout the years.

The Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, and the State Intelligence Agency continue to deploy their personnel to Papua to date. The exploitation of natural resources such as the Wabu Block, agriculture in Keerom and Yahukimo, oil palm plantations in Merauke, Nabire, Sorong, and other areas are getting bigger. This fact contradicts the guarantee of welfare for Indigenous Papuans that is Otsus.

“The Omnibus Law, the Special Autonomy Law, and all laws that were forced to be enacted are for the benefit of investors. International and national corporations are backed by a very large number of security forces,” said Jefri Wenda.

Therefore, the PRP, said Wenda, remains in its stand of rejecting the Papua Special Autonomy Law. “The PRP will guard the people of West Papua in fighting for the right to self-determination in a peaceful and democratic manner. We will also continue raising the Papuan People’s Petition for the third stage,” he said.

“The PRP also urges the unconditional release of our international spokesperson Victor Yeimo and all the West Papuan political prisoners,” Wenda added.

To this day, Victor Yeimo, who is in police custody, is still undergoing treatment at the Dok II Jayapura Hospital. He had to undergo intensive treatment for six months because of his lung illness, which had been exacerbated by the lack of air and sunlight in his detainment room. He was alleged for treason in the antiracism protests in Papua and West Papua in 2019 which, Yeimo himself said, he did not attend.

“Victor had to take eight pills and two injections of medication every day for six months,” said Emanuel Gobay, Victor Yeimo’s attorney. (*)

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