Repeating history in Papua – Opinion en.tempo.co
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The government seems to be repeating the history of colonialism in this country. The result could be like that of Indonesia in 1945.
The government of President Joko Widodo seems to be repeating the dark history of this nation. In the past, Dutch colonialists exploited our natural resources and detained and killed Indonesians. Today, the people of Papua are going through the same thing. They are oppressed and sidelined in their own country. The Ducth used to arrogantly call us “extremists” and “inside” – dismissively. Frequently, the inhabitants of the Dutch East Indies were insulted and called “monkeys”. We were treated unfairly, were racially discriminated against, and we finally woke up and fought back.
It is as if history repeats itself. Papuan students from Surabaya were called “monkeys” in the days leading up to Indonesia’s Independence Day commemoration two years ago. This racist abuse was wrong. It is not surprising that thousands of Papuans have responded to this incident with large-scale protests and widespread opposition.
As if that weren’t enough, the Indonesian government has now officially applied the “terrorist” label to the Papuan independence movement. Announced by the coordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud Md. On Thursday, April 29, this erroneous policy could increase the number of victims on both sides of this dispute. Once again, civilians risk becoming scapegoats.
It must be said that the government’s approach to solving Papua’s longstanding problems has been wrong from the start. It is not known whether he realizes it or not, but Jakarta’s strategy is very similar to the methods used by the Dutch colonial administration decades ago. The label “terrorist” applied by Mahfud to the opposition movement in Papua is very similar to the term “extremist” used by the Dutch colonial authorities to describe the Indonesian independence movement.
Besides applying the terrorist label and increasing the number of military and militants in Papua, the Indonesian government is also offering sweeteners if the opposition is stopped. In the bill to extend special autonomy in Papua, the government is trying to tempt people by offering an increase in the budget of the easternmost province. Previously, the Papuan government only received 2% of the total general allocation funds, but now it has to be increased to 2.25%. However, so far most of this special autonomy funding has gone to the Papuan elite. According to November 2020 data from the Central Statistics Agency, Papua and West Papua are still the poorest provinces in Indonesia.
Another policy being considered by the government is to divide Papua into several smaller provinces. The government says this will improve governance in Papua. But there is also a hidden hope that this division of provinces will allow the Papuan elite to have less time to oppose Jakarta. The tactics of money sharing and division to conquer seem to have been taken directly from the guide written by the Colonia Powers in the past.
We know that the Dutch strategy failed and that Indonesia became independent in 1945. This means that we could suffer the same fate as the Dutch if the wrong approach in Papua continues. It is not too late for the government to change course. President Jokowi could start by admitting that there are human rights violations in Papua that need to be fully investigated.
The roots of the problem in Papua are not just linked to the economy, as the central government claims. the construction of roads, airports and bridges will not cure the pain and feelings of oppression felt by the people of Papua. The way to solve the Papuan problem that Jokowi chose will lead Indonesia to act as a colonizer, which according to the 1945 Constitution must be wiped from the face of the earth.
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