Indonesia must change the way it handles problems in Papua if the nation wants the international community to respect its rights over its westernmost territory, say activists and experts.
The longer the problems linger, the bigger the push for separatism, they agreed.
“Indonesia has a chance to demonstrate its political maturity in these matters,” New Zealand lawmaker and Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said.
Locke added that Indonesia has made greater progress as a democracy and deserved recognition for its achievements and leadership of ASEAN.
Muridan S. Widjojo, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), agreed that there must be a change in Jakarta’s approach to Papua.
“The conflict has been going on for over 50 years. We need to pursue a better dialogue between Jakarta and West Papua,” he said.
University of Indonesia law professor Hikmahanto Juwana disagreed on efforts to contest the Act of Free Choice 1969 internationally in purpose demanding for UN review.
“The people of West Papua already exercised their right to self- determination in the UN supervised Act of Free Choice 1969.”
“Indonesia is a heterogeneous country made up of former Dutch colonies, which include West Papua,” Hikmahanto said, adding that the discussion should focus on the welfare of West Papuans instead of pushing for independence.(*WPNN)