18 Mar 2020

Plans to divide West Papua will create more dependency - academic

4:46 pm on 18 March 2020

An academic from West Papua says Indonesian plans to further divide up the region will only enhance dependency on Jakarta.

Yamin Kogoya

Yamin Kogoya Photo: supplied

Indonesia's chief security minister Mohammad Mahfud said the govenment was considering options for creating more provinces in Papua region, which is currently administered as two provinces.

It comes as the government discusse a renewed framework for Papua's Special Autonomy Law which expires next year.

Brisbane-based development specialist Yamin Kogoya* said the plan was part of a divide-and-rule strategy which dilluted West Papuan independence aims.

"Through this provincial division there will be a conflict of course among Papuan elites.

"They depend on the money coming directly from the central government. Not just that but Indonesia designed the system in such a way that Papuan society will depend their livelihood on Indonesia from the beginning," said Mr Kogoya.

He said it was not just Papuan elites who would compete for the spoils of new administrative structures.

"Not only the elite will be divided and fight over this but their followers and the supporters of the elections, the positions, they're all going to be in conflict. We've already seen this in Nduga. We've already seen this in Timika, in Tolikara, in the central highlands."

According to Mr Kogoya, any structural re-configuration of the provinces was a distraction from the core grievance among West Papuans that needed addressing.

This, he said, was the incorporation of West Papua, the former Dutch New Guinea territory, into Indonesia 50 years ago without fair consultation with the region's indigenous people.

* Kogoya has a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University.

Indonesia's Papua region: the provinces of West Papua and Papua

Indonesia's Papua region: the provinces of West Papua and Papua Photo: RNZ