Indonesian diplomacy to allay international concerns about its policy of special autonomy for the province of Papua is slowly bearing fruit, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says.
Speaking at the House of Representatives on Wednesday (30/05), Marty said several countries had softened their stance on the policy, including Pacific island nations such as Vanuatu that have traditionally been opposed to Indonesia’s administration of Papua.
“Vanuatu has changed its position and now supports special autonomy in Papua,” he said.
Vanuatu and Sweden are the only two countries with international offices of the Free Papua Organization (OPM), a separatist group. The OPM’s office in Port Vila was set up in 1987 by an activist from the office in Stockholm.
At the time, Vanuatu was also the only country in the region to support the right of East Timor, another area taken over by Indonesia, to self-determination.
But in a statement published by the Vanuatu Daily Post on May 22, the prime minister’s office said its stand on Papua for the past 30 years “has not achieved the intended result.”
“The country has made enormous sacrifices by not being able to establish relations and closer cooperation with Indonesia and being able to source aid and assistance from Indonesia,” it said.
It also said that “Indonesia and West Papua will always be intricately connected in a manner which defies the true meaning of independence.”
Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of House Commission I, which oversees foreign affairs, suggested that opposition to Indonesia’s policies in Papua could be tackled by addressing the human rights violations and discrimination of the region’s ethnic Melanesian residents.
“Stop the rights violations and discrimination, because this is what makes Papua” a cause for concern for the international community, he said.
Souece: The Jakarta Globe