Indonesia welcomes Foreign NGOs in Papua

NGOs could benefit the province, without embarking on political activities supporting separatism or violating agreements.

Indonesia still opens its door to NGOs that want to operate in Papua, as long as they benefit the people without involvement in politics and commercial activities, an official says.

Sunu M. Soemarno, director for Socio-Culture and International Organizations at the Foreign Ministry, said the government through an inter-department meeting including his office, the Social Services Ministry and intelligence bodies, police and the State Secretariat, will decide and review whether NGOs can help build Papua.

If the meeting found that NGOs could benefit the province, without embarking on political activities supporting separatism or violating agreements agreed upon beforehand with ministry partners, the government would hand out permits or extend permits to NGOs.

“We have approved the operation of 14 foreign NGOs in Papua while we expand scope of operations for two others based on this criteria.” Soemarno told the press.

Regarding the ban against a Dutch funding organization, Cordaid to operate in Papua, based on input from other departments, the organization had violated its agreement with its government partner, the Social Services Ministry.

Cordaid has been being a shareholder of Bank Andara and sponsoring the participation of a community group in the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a forum that supports secessionist movements in southern Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Indonesia government requested Cordaid, which has operated for 30 years in Indonesia, to hand over ongoing projects to its local partners and not expand the scope of the projects or extend deadlines.

Cordaid, however, could reapply for the permit, and provide evidence to the Social Services Ministry that the organization had no intention of supporting separatism, and that its operation in Indonesia had provided many benefits to Papuans.

Cordaid said in its letter to the Social Services Ministry that it never supported separatist activities, while asserting it had gradually relinquished its 10 percent share in Andara.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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Filed under Papua, Separatism

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