Yunus Wonda
Yunus Wonda, the chairman of Papua's parliament (DPRP)Yunus Wonda, the chairman of Papua's parliament (DPRP) Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

We say ‘don’t make native Papuans suffer’, and they call us separatists: Legislator


West Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi


Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Legislative Council deputy speaker, Yunus Wonda, said the legislators who use their constitutional rights to voice native Papuans’ concerns to the central government were often labeled as “separatists” by “some offended people”.


He did not identify the “offended people” but he mentioned they were “rogue people” or in Indonesian, “oknum”, within the government.

On the internet, trolls and bots often scoured for social media posts that expressed concerns for native Papuans’ sufferings. The trolls would call these people “provocateurs”, “traitors” that should be arrested.

Wonda said, for example, when a Papuan legislator said they rejected the plan to establish new provinces in Papua province, or when a legislator asked the central government to open a room for a dialogue with Free Papua Organization (OPM), some would call the legislators separatists.

“When we in the Papua Legislative Council speak, we are accused of being separatists or top figures in the Free Papua Organization. They accused us of provoking people to demand Papua to be independent [from Indonesia],” said Wonda on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.

Wonda said the statements they made were actually a solution for Indonesia to help resolve problems in Papua.

“We talk to give a solution to the state. But sometimes the [central government] perceived it wrongly. We are called rebels against the state. But we know, we are actually implementing the Constitution,” he said.

He said the state itself was not the one in the wrong, but the “oknum” or rogue people who claimed they spoke on behalf of the state, he went on.

In a recent discussion, the head of Humanity Team for Papua, Haris Azhar, said the government needed to explain what was the criteria of their accusation.

When someone talked about Papua or demanded peaceful resolution to conflicts in Papua Land, they would be vulnerable to attacks that accused them of being part of the Free Papua Movement.

“It happens not only to those in Papua but also outside Papua. Such accusation was a political move, one sided. But the state or the government had refused to answer what was the criteria for accusing someone a separatist,” Haris said.

Read also: Why special autonomy cannot bring improvement to Papuans and why it cannot overcome separatism?

Haris also said there was no clear explanation what was the government criteria for accusing someone of being part of the “criminal armed group”, the jargon the government used, or part of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

The Indonesian Military (TNI) several times shot native Papuans and rushed to announce to the public that the person was a member of TPNPB. They never retracted the accusation even though the TPNPB denied it.

In two cases in October 2020 in Intan Jaya, for example, the TNI publicly accused Agustinus Duwitau and Rufinus Tigau as members of the TPNPB. Officials at the Timika Diocese of the Catholic Church denied the TNI’s claim but TNI never retracted their statement.

Read also: Intan Jaya conflict (8): People continue to suffer while two armed groups fight

“No one could explain. Such accusations is just one-sided. This is something they intentionally perpetuate,” Haris went on. Haris said the stigma was a tool to control those who spoke up and to provide a justification of more military deployment to Papua.

“That is what’s happening. More deployment to fight OPM, to control OPM, to protect people from OPM,” he went on.

Editor: Dewi Wulandari, Evi Mariani

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