Résumé – looking ahead

Conference “Autonomy for Papua – Opportunity or Illusion?”, 04-05 June 2003

 by Siegfried Zöllner on behalf of the publishers


1. German political representatives have been made aware that committed groups in German civil society, that are closely observing the political situation in Indonesia in general and in Papua and Aceh in particular, are prepared to take action and expect the German Government to provide support for an improvement of the human rights situation and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict..

2. Indonesian Government representatives have also been made aware that groups in civil society, not only in Germany, are critically observing developments in Indonesia. From the discussion on the Special Autonomy Law, they have had to recognise that the Indonesian Government is not being assessed by foreign observers for what it says but for what it actually does.

3. Papuan representatives were encouraged to be more discriminating in their reflections on the opportunities that the Special Autonomy Law could present if it was really implemented to the letter. They had the chance to present their concerns, ideas and expectations to a committed international forum. They made effective use of the opportunity, pointing out human rights violations and demanding justice.

4. The German participants received a considerable amount of first-hand information on the current situation in Papua/Indonesia. They are highly motivated to continue to contribute to the future discussions on peace and justice, development and democracy in Papua/Indonesia.

But will the impulses be followed up? The key to finding a solution to this complicated and complex situation lies in open dialogue between representatives of the Indonesian Central Government and the people of Papua; a dialogue that will build trust and result in both sides being prepared not only to accept compromise as a necessity but also to have the determination to reach a peaceful solution for Papua. Through a consistent implementation of the Special Autonomy Law, Jakarta could develop an atmosphere of trust. The Papuans would have to relinquish their demands for independence, if they were given the freedom and the trust to make genuine use of the rights guaranteed by the Law. This dialogue could be stimulated and monitored by a neutral third party. The conference would then have been really successful if such a dialogue were to come about.

In the meantime, the discussion on the Special Autonomy Law has continued in the Province of Papua and in the rest of Indonesia. The Governor of the Province of Papua issued invitations to an assessment of the Special Autonomy Law, one and a half years after its coming into force. The conference was held in Jayapura on July 28th and 29th, 2003. Representatives from all districts (Kabupaten) attended. The scant reports from the conference showed that the regions had complained that there was no sign of any change or improvement in terms of infrastructure, health or education. What was striking, one delegate said, was how many Government officials in Jayapura had official cars.

Several weeks previously – on July 8th and 9th, 2003 – the Co-ordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, visited Jayapura. In a speech at the Cenderawasih University he reaffirmed that the Government was fully behind the Special Autonomy Law and would soon issue, or where appropriate, confirm the implementing regulations, not yet in place. He gave the impression that the Government had resolved to stick to the procedure as stipulated in the Law even in relation to the issue of partition into three provinces. That would mean, the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) would first have to be set up and time be given to await its decisions and recommendations as well as those of the Provincial Parliament on the partitioning of the Province (under the Law both have to give their approval). Only then would the Government be able to make any decisions. But Yudhoyono had barely departed, when the General Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr. Siti Nurbaya, appeared in Manokwari to declare the exact opposite: the establishment of the new Province of West Irian Jaya and the naming of Abraham Atururi as Governor were fully legitimate. Atururi had already proclaimed the Province in February 2003, a few days after the disputed Presidential Instruction on the partition of the Province of Papua. During a visit on July 13th and 14th, 2003, General Secretary Nurbaya, in a public ceremony, named further officials for the new Provincial Government. Contradictory signals from Jakarta, completely confusing for the Papuans – where could this Government still be trusted?

The contradictory development in Papua also gained increasing national media attention. Gradually, all experts were convinced that the disputed Presidential Instruction No. 1/2003 on the partitioning of Papua into three provinces was not legally consistent with the Special Autonomy Law. Also, the Law No. 45/1999, on which the Presidential Instruction is based, could not have any validity in its present form. In drawing up the Special Autonomy Law, the legislators were well aware that the Law No. 45/1999 would have to be suitably adapted. On October 20th, 2001, during the debates on Law No. 21/2001, the responsible Parliamentary Special Committee recorded in its minutes that Law No. 45/1999 would have to be amended. This item from the minutes has, however, not been observed – it has either been forgotten or been seen as unessential – and so, from then till now contradictory laws have existed side by side. This was convenient for the President: she was able to base her Presidential Instruction No. 1/2003 on Law No. 45/1999. That is why the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) dealt with the issue at its Annual Session at the beginning of August 2003. In its Decree No. V/2003, it called on the Government, the President and Parliament to harmonise the contradictory Laws, and to do this so that they correspond with the “content, spirit and essence” of the Special Autonomy Law.

But the Government remains stubborn. In her speech on National Day on August 17th, 2003, the President reaffirmed the determination of the Government to partition the Province. She simultaneously committed herself to the Special Autonomy Law, but this can be regarded only as paying lip-service to it. Her Finance Minister had until this point – by mid-August – transferred only 15% of the funds to the Province, funds to which the Law entitles it.

The Governor, J.P. Salosa, complained about the stagnation of many planned activities. Jakarta was continuing to block the setting up of the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP). The Minister of Home Affairs even announced that the Government would amend the Special Autonomy Law. The Papua People’s Assembly would not be allowed to have political authority or the rights to have its say and co-decide on crucial matters. How can the Papuan people be expected to believe that the Government is serious about the Special Autonomy Law?

There was also resistance from the other side. On August 20th, 2003, round-table discussions were held in Jakarta involving experts on the situation in Papua. These experts included well-known lawyers such as Usman Hamid and Todung Mulya Lubis, but also Parliamentarians such as Simon P. Morin. The political advisor for the programme Partnership for Governance Reform, Bambang Widjojanto, stated that the President would be liable to impeachment if she did not withdraw the controversial Presidential Instruction No. 1/2003, since it was clearly in contravention of the Special Autonomy Law. Through her oath of office she was committed to upholding the laws and the Constitution. A participant at the round-table discussions told the press: “We will file a lawsuit at the newly set up Constitutional Court on the grounds of contravention of applicable law, and ask Parliament to resolve the suspicion of a breach of the oath of office”. 1

Three days later, on August 23rd, 2003, there were bloody clashes in Timika as a consequence of these issues: five dead and over 100 injured was the sad upshot of the street battles between supporters and opponents of the partition of Papua. The Chairman of the Parliament of the administrative district of Mimika, Andreas Anggaibak, wanted to proclaim the Province of Central Irian Jaya. Ultimately, responsibility for the bloody weekend lies with the Central Government in Jakarta, which, without any kind of sensitivity for the situation in Papua, sought to force through the partition into three provinces. Now, at last, on August 27th, 2003 – a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – the Cabinet took the decision not to pursue the partitioning for the time being, but to maintain the status quo. The status quo says that the Province of West Irian Jaya already exists and that the Province of Central Irian Jaya is being planned. Both contradictory Laws, Law No. 45/1999 and No. 21/2001, as well as the Presidential Instruction 1/2003 should be re-examined. The previous day, the Chairman of the national Parliament (DPR) and chairman of the Golkar party, Akbar Tanjung, urgently called on the Government to defer partitioning.

But what does re-examine mean? The Government wants two things: it wants to stick to partitioning and it wants to curtail the authority granted to the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) by the Special Autonomy Law. In other words, the Government might present amended draft legislation to Parliament in order to yet again weaken the Special Autonomy.

Seldom has a case like this been given such long, intensive and comprehensive coverage in the Indonesian media. The widely read daily Kompas issued a special supplement on Papua in its September 7th, 2003, edition. A large part of the articles dealt with the issue raised here. Then, on September 15th, 2003, an article appeared in the newspaper Suara Pembaruan with the headline: “Has the President breached the 1945 Constitution?” This accusation had been made by the former Governor of Papua and current Indonesian Ambassador in Mexico, Barnabas Suebo, in a series of articles. Perhaps this discussion demonstrates that a large section of the Indonesian public has developed a sense of what constitutional state under the rule of law (rechtsstaat) actually means. That would be an encouraging sign. At the same time, it has become all too clear how far removed the current Indonesian Government is from the constitutionally stipulated rechtsstaat – and that is a worrying sign.

The international community should support the growing awareness for rechtsstaat principles. That could happen by calling for the consistent implementation of the Special Autonomy Law. Proper implementation of this Law would demonstrate to the people of Papua that they still have a place as equal citizens in the Republic of Indonesia. Through this, trust could be established and thereby the door to honest dialogue opened. A collapse of the Special Autonomy legislation would destroy any kind of trust and would cause the call for independence to become ever louder. And that would have grim consequences. It would then be difficult to prevent a second Aceh. There cannot be any winners in a war in Aceh or in Papua – only losers: the population concerned, the Indonesian Government and the international community.

An application for judicial review has been filed in the meantime. One argument therein is that the Government violates Art. 18 B of the Constitution; cf. Suara Pembaruan, 13/11/2003.

Tags: , , , , ,



Rainforest Instead of Palm Oil


Follow us