Strug­gle con­tin­ues for West Pa­pua

The Fiji Times - - PACIFIC NEWS - ■ The anal­y­sis is by In­done­sian re­searcher Hipoli­tus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge at the Marthi­nus Academy Jakarta who con­ducts field­work in Pa­pua.

JAKARTA - After eight months of the armed con­flict be­tween In­done­sian se­cu­rity forces and West Pa­puan pro-in­de­pen­dence fighters in Pa­pua’s cen­tral high­lands, there’s no end in sight to the strug­gles of the in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties dis­placed by the fight­ing.

It’s es­ti­mated that over 45,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed from their homes in re­mote Nduga re­gency since a deadly at­tack on road con­struc­tion work­ers by the West Pa­pua Lib­er­a­tion Army sparked an es­ca­la­tion of the con­flict last De­cem­ber. That mas­sacre was fol­lowed by a large pur­suit op­er­a­tion by In­done­sian forces who have left few stones un­turned to hunt down the Pa­puan guerilla fighters.

Flee­ing from the en­su­ing bouts of fight­ing and raids, dis­placed vil­lagers have sought refuge in neigh­bour­ing parts of Nduga or other re­gen­cies such as Yahukimo, As­mat, Lanny Jaya, Pun­cak and Jayaw­i­jaya. Away from their own land and gar­dens, the In­ter­nally Dis­placed Per­sons (IDPs) are strug­gling to meet ba­sic needs, and liv­ing in ap­palling makeshift con­di­tions.

The poor liv­ing con­di­tions faced by IDPs in var­i­ous tem­po­rary abodes, for in­stance the 700 schoolaged chil­dren in Wa­mena, should not be lost on na­tional lead­ers.

So far gov­ern­ment has largely been in­ef­fec­tive in al­le­vi­at­ing their plight. Nei­ther cen­tral nor lo­cal gov­ern­ment has found a way to end the con­flict, to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to the dis­placed, or re­store se­cured liv­ing con­di­tions in Nduga.

Given the neg­li­gence of the armed con­flict and those it dis­places, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment dis­plays a form of po­lit­i­cal dis­crim­i­na­tions to­wards Pa­puans. Po­lit­i­cal con­flict be­tween the In­done­sian cen­tral gov­ern­ment and Pa­puans who aspire to in­de­pen­dence is highly sen­si­tive. It may ac­count for why there has been no clar­i­fi­ca­tion by gov­ern­ment on the sta­tus of the Pa­pua con­flict since the coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tion kicked off in early De­cem­ber 2018.

Se­condly, the state does not of­fi­cially recog­nise the IDPs. Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the aid group Sol­i­dar­ity Team for Nduga, at least 182 peo­ple from Nduga have died of famine and dis­ease in dis­place­ment camps. In­done­sia’s Law No.7 of 2012 on the Man­age­ment of So­cial Con­flicts is based on hor­i­zon­tal con­flicts, not ver­ti­cal or asym­met­ri­cal ones, such as those ques­tion­ing In­done­sia’s sovereignt­y and le­git­i­macy in a ter­ri­tory in Pa­pua and West Pa­pua Prov­inces.

Al­though the 2012 law does not cover the Pa­puan con­text with its po­lit­i­cal and armed fac­tors in its def­i­ni­tion of so­cial con­flict, the law still ac­knowl­edges the pres­ence of IDPs. Hence, the gov­ern­ment should clar­ify the sta­tus of the con­flict and recog­nise the plight of the Nduga IDPs. By do­ing so, the gov­ern­ment could ter­mi­nate the con­flict, and pro­vide nec­es­sary sup­plies as well as trauma-heal­ing ser­vices to the IDPs.

As long as the gov­ern­ment maintains its nar­row ex­pla­na­tion of the con­flict as a crim­i­nal op­er­a­tion to in­form the In­done­sian mil­i­tary and po­lice pur­sual of pro-in­de­pen­dence fighters, the con­flict will con­tinue.

The con­flict has po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, and cul­tural as­pects gen­er­ally over­looked by the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment and its se­cu­rity of­fi­cers. Ini­tially, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment de­nied the pres­ence of IDPs since they claimed that most of the dis­placed Nduga peo­ple have been liv­ing with their fam­i­lies in Wa­mena. In that way, it is dif­fi­cult to cat­e­gorise them as IDPs.

Even the re­gional Cen­drawasih mil­i­tary com­mand stated that there is no in­ter­nal dis­place­ment, but a typ­i­cal mi­gra­tion.

Pic­ture: RNZ

Emer­gency tem­po­rary school for dis­placed Pa­puan chil­dren in Wa­mena.

Pic­ture: RNZ

In­set: The Hu­man­ity Vol­un­teer Team of Nduga has been help­ing com­mu­ni­ties dis­placed by armed con­flict in Pa­pua’s Nduga re­gency with food, health and ed­u­ca­tion needs in Wa­mena.

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