During his campaign period, the now President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made several promises to Papuan people. Nearly two years on, the improvements that Jokowi promised have progressed painfully slowly, risking the entire rapport that he built with the Papuan natives. Here is the list of Jokowi’s promises and some brief progress updates on each.
Resolving alleged human rights violations, including two cases declared by human rights activists as gross rights abuses in Wasior and Wamena
The government has pledged to settle alleged human rights abuses, including those in Papua, by the end of this year. The previous deadline was in May.
On April 20, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan opened a one-week meeting in Jakarta, which was attended by more than 20 human rights activists and ethnic Papuan officials from Papua and West Papua, along with officials from the National Police, the Attorney General’s Office ( AGO ) and various ministries.
The meeting aimed to develop a roadmap to investigation and resolve a number of the region’s most serious human rights abuses.
The government has compiled a 17-page report detailing 11 high-priority human rights cases in Papua that it aims to solve. They include the unresolved shootings in Biak in July 1998, when security forces reportedly opened fire on participants of a flag-raising ceremony on the island; the crackdown on Papuan residents in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that reportedly left dozens dead and thousands displaced; and the forced disbandment of the Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011 that left three people dead and hundreds injured.
Ending use of force by security forces
Unresolved violence and shootings in Paniai in 2014 and in Timika in 2015 highlight the old approach taken by both law enforcement agencies and the military in Papua, using force to deal with problems involving native Papuans, rather than softer approach.
Furthermore, there are concerns regarding plans to build a new Army territorial command in Manokwari and a police brigade headquarters in Wamena – not to mention the so-called joint expedition, dominated by 670 military personnel, including the Army Special Forces ( Kopassus ) and civilians, aimed at conducting research and collecting data on Papua’s natural resources and its people.
Releasing political detainees
Jokowi granted clemency on May 9 to five political prisoners incarcerated in Jayapura. The five Papuans, convicted of breaking into a military arsenal in Wamena in 2003, were immediately released after receiving letters confirming that the remainder of their sentences would be waived.
Papuans Behind Bars website shows that there are still 38 political prisoners locked up as of May 25, 2016. The prisoners are charged with various sentences, from owning weapons and treason to raising the separatist Morning Star flag.
In May alone, almost 2,000 people have been reportedly arrested for joining rallies in support of Papuan self-determination.
Visits to Papua
Jokowi has visited Papua four times to ensure development of infrastructure in the region:
- Dec. 27, 2014
President Jokowi attended the national Christmas celebration in Papua, marking the first time the country's easternmost province has played host to the event. Jokowi also attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of two markets.
- May 8, 2015
President Jokowi inaugurated several development projects on his second visit. The projects include a fiber optic facility belonging to state telecommunications firm PT Telkom, the Institute of Public Administration ( IPDN ) Papua campus, a sports venue for the upcoming National Games in 2020 that Papua will host and the Halltekamp Bridge, which will link Jayapura to other areas.
- April 5, 2016
- April 30, 2016
President Jokowi visited Papua to follow up and kick off the construction of Mama-Mama Market, which had been stalled since December 2014.
Building a presidential palace in Papua
Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, when he was acting presidential chief of staff in August last year, said that the President would build a presidential palace in Papua, as reported by Tempo.
Building traditional women’s markets ( Mama’s Market )
Jokowi attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of two markets in Jayapura and Sentani on Dec. 27, 2015. Jokowi warned local government officials against charging illegal levies on mama-mama, the local women who work as vendors in the market. The Papua administration and people have campaigned for the building of the Mama-Mama Market for 13 years. Having their own traditional market is essential for these women, since they cannot compete with traders from outside Papua and it is likely they would be allocated poor positions if they shared the same market.
Unfortunately, no progress has been reported on construction work for the market after a year. In April, a Papuan woman named Yuliana Pigay sent a letter to Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki, to express her disappointment.
On May 1, the construction of a long-awaited traditional market finally began as President Jokowi laid the first stone of the market’s foundations in Jayapura.
Opening Papua to foreign journalists
President Jokowi revoked restrictions that previously prevented foreign journalists from covering Papua. Foreign journalists no longer had to request special permission from the Foreign Ministry to report on Papua. However, in practice, many journalists have reported difficulty in entering Papua, as reported by Reporters Without Borders.
The government allocated a total of Rp 6 trillion ( US$460 million ) in 2015 for infrastructure development in Papua, President Jokowi said during his visit in May 2015. Jokowi said that of the funds, Rp 4.7 trillion would be for the construction of roads and bridges, Rp 600 billion for irrigation, Rp 400 billion for sanitation and drinking water and Rp 300 billion for housing.
In January, President Jokowi reiterated his commitment to building infrastructure on the outskirts of developed areas and in villages outside Java, allocating Rp 314 trillion in the 2016 state budget to support equitable development, especially in remote and border areas including Papua.
In March, the Indonesian Military ( TNI ) finished a major initial stage of construction on the 4,325 kilometer trans-Papua highway. The Army's engineering directorate ( Zeni ) had previously cleared areas for the initial 278.6 km section linking Wamena in Jayawijaya regency to Mumugu in Asmat regency.
In April, the president inaugurated Wasior Port in Wondamba Bay. Wasior Port is part of the government's “sea toll-road” transportation program, launched in November, 2015, to connect Tanjung Priok in Jakarta and Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, East Java, to other major ports in Indonesia’s eastern provinces. The maritime highway program has resulted in a 30 percent price reduction in areas like Papua.
Cement maker PT Conch-SDIC Papua Cement Indonesia will start production at its plant in Manokwari, West Papua, in July, the Indonesian-Chinese joint venture announced in May. Cement prices in Papua are among the highest in Indonesia because the commodity has to be brought in from other provinces using poor transportation infrastructure.
Devina Heriyanto The Jakarta Post