about icg 
  Latin America 
  Middle East 
  by region 
  by date 
  by keyword 
  media releases 
  articles/op. eds 
  media contacts 
contact us 
donate to icg 

 home  programs  asia  indonesia
  Indonesia: Ending repression in Irian Jaya

Jakarta/Brussels, 20 September 2001: For the past year, the Indonesian government has curtailed open demands for independence in Irian Jaya, its easternmost province, and has tried to promote a policy of Special Autonomy. However it is only maintaining control by relying on military power.

In a new report, Indonesia: Ending Repression in Irian Jaya, the International Crisis Group says that Special Autonomy could help break the cycle of repression and alienation that has led most Papuans to support independence. But this cannot succeed when Jakarta’s authority rests on its use of harsh security measures and the seemingly inevitable abuse of human rights.

In her Independence Day speech last month President Megawati apologised to the people of Irian Jaya for the policies of the past. She committed her government to a new policy that would respect cultural identity, and give local leaders much greater authority.

But so far there has been little change. There is no systematic dialogue between Jakarta and Papua’s indigenous political leaders, five senior members of the Papuan Presidium Council are on trial for subversion, and earlier acceptance by Jakarta of important Papuan symbols such as the Morning Star flag and use of the name Papua has been retracted. Violent clashes between Papuans and non-Papuans, and the security forces have increased.

ICG consultant Dr Richard Chauvel said: “With the fall of Soeharto, Papuan resistance was transformed from localised sporadic armed resistance by the OPM (Free Papua Movement) to an urban-led mass-based largely non-violent struggle. With the closing of the Reformasi political space at the end of 2000, Papuan resistance has reverted to earlier patterns.”

The Special Autonomy package presented to the parliament in April should be adopted quickly. It is the most obvious policy framework in which a political resolution can be negotiated. It is also essential that military action is restrained, human rights abuses stopped and the perpetrators held accountable, and a major commitment made by Indonesia and international donors to train and assist the people of Papua to control their own society.

However as ICG’s Indonesia Project Director Dr Harold Crouch points out: “Previous forms of autonomy have either not been implemented or have had little substance. The new Special Autonomy law will need to be a strong one, reflecting Papuan cultural values and political aspirations, if it is to convince Papuans that the Government’s offer is credible. ”

Contacts: Katy Cronin and Sascha Pichler at ICG Brussels, +32 2 536 00 64 or 70, email: [email protected]
ICG Jakarta +62 21 3983 0303 All ICG reports are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


copyright privacy sitemap