5 Sep 2017

Signs that Jakarta is entering West Papua dialogue process

1:38 pm on 5 September 2017

There are signs of a significant peace dialogue opening up between Indonesia's government and West Papuans.

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo Photo: AFP

Various Papuan civil society, church and customary leaders met with Indonesia's president Joko Widodo last month about establishing dialogue over problems in Papua.

Terms of reference for the dialogue are not known yet, but the Jakarta meeting agreed on the Catholic priest, Dr Neles Tebay, taking on a mediator role.

One of the participants at the meeting, Yan Christian Warinussy of the Papua-based Institute of Research, Investigation and Development of Legal Aid, said it was unclear what the next step would be.

"Because after we meet with Jokowi (President Joko Widodo) three weeks ago, we not see what next step to take the peaceful dialogue (forward) after we talked with Jokowi. That is the problem, I think."

The dialogue between Indonesia's government and West Papuans is unlikely to include the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

Mr Warinussy indicated that Jakarta was reluctant to have talks with the Liberation Movement which broadly represents all West Papuans and is chiefly interested in the territory gaining independence.

"They (ULMWP) not like to make dialogue about development, economic development, social, cultural development and also infrastructure. But they'd like dialogue with Indonesia about self-determination and about human rights."

According to Mr Warinussy, the Liberation Movement's aim reflected the general aspiration of West Papuans.

"The majority of the people in West Papua, they'd like to get independence," he said, suggesting that was the leading topic that West Papuans would wish to have dialogue with Jakarta about.

The Jakarta meeting agreed on the Catholic priest and coordinator of the Papua Peace Network, Dr Neles Tebay, taking on a mediator role.

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