The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 03/27/2009
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono received Free Papua Organization (OPM) co-founder Nicholas Jouwe at his private residence in Cikeas, Bogor, on Thursday.
At the meeting, Nicholas asked the President to grant him Indonesian nationality, which would allow him to return to Indonesia permanently, after spending more than 40 years in exile in the Netherlands.
“Nicholas wishes to spend his final years building Papua using the region’s special autonomy rights,” one of the founders of the Independent Group Supporting the Autonomous Region of Papua within The Republic of Indonesia (IGSARPRI) Franz Albert Yoku said as quoted by Antara news agency.
He added that Nicholas planned to move back to his homeland of Papua with his two daughters in the future.
The OPM emerged in the late 1960s to oppose the allegedly undemocratic *Act of Free Choice,’ which resulted in the territory becoming a part of Indonesia.
On July 1, 1971, Nicholas, along with the two other founders of the OPM, declared the independence of West Papua.
However, the movement has waned over time due to factionalism and constant pressure by the Indonesian military.
According to Franzalbert, the 85 year old Nicholas visited Yudhoyono’s residence and discussed the future of Papua within the frame of Indonesia.
The talks lasted for about an hour, well over the initially planned 25 minutes.
“Nicolas asked the President to ensure that all problems in the region be handled in a rightful manner, that no human rights violations should recur in Papua in the future, as well as that all the political prisoners be acquitted,” he said.
The OPM founder also requested the President form a Papuan Authority to handle the development of the province, Franzalbert said.
Nicholas said the government must take serious steps to eradicate corruption that is currently plaguing Papua, sinking its people even deeper into poverty.
The President responded positively to the talks, and even asked Nicholas to participate in resolving the region’s problems, Franzalbert said.
“The President hopes that Nicholas will help develop the country according to his abilities, to ensure Indonesia’s integrity,” added the Papuan integration figure. (dis)