Concluding statement

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


Conference “Autonomy for Papua – Opportunity or Illusion?”

photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

From June 4th to June 5th, 2003, the Conference „Autonomy for Papua. Opportunity or Illusion?” was held in Berlin. The Conference was jointly organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Westpapua Network, Watch Indonesia!, the German Commission Justice and Peace, the United Evangelical Mission, the Human Rights Desk of the Diakonisches Werk, Misereor, missio Aachen and the Missionszentrale der Franziskaner. Participants came from Indonesia, Germany and other countries and comprised representatives from civil society organisations (NGOs, churches, political foundations etc.), academics as well as politicians and officials, including representatives from the Indonesian Embassies in Berlin and The Hague.

The focus of the two-day discussions was the Law No. 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua. In general, participants welcomed the Special Autonomy Law as a means for peaceful conflict resolution and a step towards further recognition of the rights of the people of Papua.

As was amongst others underlined by academic experts from Indonesia, Germany and other countries, there is no long term alternative to a comprehensive policy of autonomy which enables economic and social development as well as the realisation of the rich culture of the people of Papua. The view prevailed among conference participants that all sides should understand the Special Autonomy Law as a means to enhance democratisation and the realisation of human rights. Autonomy should be regarded as a legitimate expression of the will of the people of Papua to be the sole architects of their fate, in accordance with international human rights law.

Participants noted that autonomy solutions in Papua/Indonesia must be based on continuous efforts to end impunity for human rights violations and on respect for human rights. Institution building was regarded as another important issue where action was required. However, doubts were voiced on the seriousness on the part of the Government of Indonesia as regards to the implementation of Special Autonomy. Controversial discussions took place concerning the Presidential Instruction on the acceleration of the implementation of Law No. 45/1999 concerning the partition of Papua into three provinces. Whereas one party pointed out that the Instruction was complementary to Law No. 21/2001, the other party rejected it and called for its revocation.

The need for mutual trust and mutual understanding was strongly felt among participants. A constructive dialogue process between the Government of Indonesia and representatives of the people of Papua was considered essential. In this respect participants noted the need for an institutionalised platform for dialogue between the Central Government and the people of Papua. And regarding the people of Papua it was felt that all efforts for (self-)empowerment and commitment needed to be undertaken. A wait-and-see attitude which can often be observed among disempowered people is counterproductive and needs to be overcome. Autonomy is a living mechanism which needs involvement of the local population as well as of the political leaders.

The conference was perceived as a step on this path which should be followed up. All sides welcomed the international community to play a role in supporting the constructive dialogue, the confidence building process and the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law. It was appreciated that representatives from German Government and Parliament also participated and expressed their willingness to support the autonomy solution for Papua as a means of peaceful conflict resolution.

Berlin, June 5th, 2003

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