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As many as 714,066 Papuans and 112 organisations which are part of the Papuan People’s Petition (PRP) have rejected last week’s enactment into law of revisions to Law Number 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus), reports CNN Indonesia.
They believe that special autonomy is not the answer to resolving the problems in the land of Papua.
“There’s no such thing as Otsus in the Papuan people’s dictionary. The Papuan people are asking for the right to self-determination,” said Rawarap from the group West Papua Youth and Student National Solidarity (Sonamapa) during a PRP event broadcast on the Suara Papua TV YouTube channel on Friday, July 16.
Rawarap believes that special autonomy is a product conceived out of an illicit affair between the political elite in Papua and Jakarta. According to Rawarap, the policy has not accommodated the Papuan people at all.
“Otsus is like an illegitimate child conceived during a sex party between the Papua elite and the Jakarta elite. We explicitly reject Otsus because Otsus is an illicit product. It’s the result of an illicit affair,” he added.
Rawarap said that the decision by the House of Representatives (DPR) to ratify the revisions into law would not in any way make Papuans feel proud.
More than 20 years of the implementation of special autonomy has failed to bring prosperity to the Papuan people.
‘Still many mama-mama‘
“The fact also is that many have already explained that over the 20 years Otsus has been in force in the land of Papua, there are still many mama-mama [traditional Papuan women traders] who sell on the side of the road,” he said.
“Still using cardboard, sacks as mats, sitting on the road selling areca.
“The fact also is that there are still many Papuan children who drop out of school and cannot continue their studies at tertiary institutions because education is expensive, yet there is money from Otsus.
“But, the fact is that many Papuan children drop out of study or do not continue school, and the unemployment rate is high — what is there to be proud of with Otsus?,” he asked.
Rawarap then touched on the findings of the National Statistics Agency (BPS) which says that the Human Development Index for Papua and West Papua provinces are the lowest in the country despite Otsus being in place for two decades.
“Sonamapa — along with the 112 organisations involved in the Papua People’s Petition reject Otsus — explicitly states that we reject Otsus Chapter II resulting out of secret revisions [to the Otsus Law] by the [DPR’s] special committee,” he said.
PRP spokesperson Sam Awom said that group rejected all forms of compromise with any deliberations on special autonomy which failecd to involve ordinary Papuan people.
‘Return mandate to the people’
“He also asked policy makers to return a mandate to the Papuan people to determine their own future,” he said.
“We demand the immediate return to the Papuan people [of the right] to choose and determine their own future on whether they accept Otsus or independence as a country”, said Awom, reading out a statement.
Awom declared that they would hold a national strike if the demands of the Papuan people were not followed up.
“If the petition [against Otsus] is not followed up, then we will hold a national, peaceful civil strike throughout the territory of West Papua,” he said.
Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD has stated that the government will prioritise dialogue with “separatists” seeking self-determination and independence in Papua and use law enforcement against alleged armed criminal groups (KKB).
“On the Papua issue the government will use an approach prioritising prosperity which is comprehensive and covers all aspects,” he said.
“In confronting separatism, the government will prioritise dialogue.”
Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “714 Ribu Orang dan 112 Organisasi Diklaim Tolak Otsus Papua”.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.