Monday, May 25, 2009
West Papua - The Next breakaway Province?
Indonesia’s President SBY's chances to prove his leadership in tackling insurgency and sectarian conflicts would rest on how he would quell tensions in the volatile province of Papua.
The country's easternmost province of Papua is underdeveloped
but rich in natural resources with a majority of Christian
population. Although Papua was given special autonomy in 2002,
tension continues to run high as a low key separatist movement
still wages independence campaigns. Clashes between security
personnel and rebels of the Free Papua Organization have erupted
occasionally out of trivial disputes.
In a sign of embracing defiant Papua, SBY invited exiled founder
of the Free Papua Movement Nicolas Jouwe to Jakarta in March to
ask him to help end the four-decade of rebellion. However, a
chance for long-standing peace remains bleak as Nicolas's return
to fulfil the government's invitation has enraged separatist
leaders in Papua, stoking even more tension with the military.
The geographically-isolated Papua has become the center of
attention from major powers like the United States, whose copper
and gold mining company Freeport has been operating for some 40
years on the island while the natives have lived in poverty and