30 Dec 2014

Solving West Papua issues challenging for Indonesia President

7:21 am on 30 December 2014

Human Rights Watch says Indonesia's President needs to stand up to his government and military if he is to fulfil his promise to solve political, social and economic issues in Papua and West Papua.

On a visit to Papua this week, President Joko Widodo said he is willing to open dialogue for a better Papua, which has been the scene of a low-level independence war for 50 years.

This is in addition to previous promises Mr Widodo has made to open up Papua, including potentially lifting a ban on foreign journalists and NGOs entering the western half of New Guinea island.

But Human Rights Watch's Andreas Harsono says Mr Widodo has a challenge on his hands if he is to open up Papua, because Jakarta and the military seem to be gripped by a paranoia about the province.

"It is very important for him to rein in the military and tell them; 'look, I am in charge here. Your paranoia is groundless. Your paranoia is hurting Indonesia for so many decades."

Andreas Harsono.