Papua Needs Equality

Not long after Indonesia’s 74th Independence Anniversary, a political ripple in the Papua and West Papua Provinces threatened the unity of the Indonesian Republic (NKRI). It started with racial discrimination towards Papua students in Surabaya and Malang. This is why the Indonesian government needs to be watchful for any incidents and provide the right approach for locals. Because of this racial issue, Papua is lacking in human resources and education.

M.Si. Ali Muhammad, Ph.D, a lecturer of International Relations from Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (HI UMY) clarified that the problems about Papua are related to economic, educational, and identity discrepancy. He thinks that since Papua joined Indonesia in August 2nd 1969, their people still have not received proper attention, and their natural resources (SDA) were exhausted.

“The recent action by the mob is not only caused by improper conduct from persons in Surabaya and Malang, but a result from a lingering problem that was not handled correctly,” he stated during his time as a panellist in a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) themed Quo Vadis Papua and Aceh in NKRI structure hosted by HI UMY Graduate Studies on Wednesday (4/9) in UMY Central Campus’ Graduate Building.

Ali also mentioned that the people of Papua feel like they are different from most Indonesians, including in appearance contexts. This is made worse by discrimination, marginalization, and racism that often happens.

“Everyone in Indonesia must be open-minded towards differences. It is unfortunate if racism still happens,’ He added.

Ali continued by stating that the economic development in Papua is considered a failure. The exploitation of forests and gold mines cause the local ecosystem to change. In addition, the economic policies heavily favor foreigners, which lessen the positive impact on locals.

“The policies applied by the government should have a positive impact on the people of Papua, so everyone in Indonesia can embrace them. Stop discrimination and racism, so the people of Papua can be comfortable being under the same flag, the Indonesian flag,” He stated.

At the same time, Dr. Takdir Ali Mukti added that these actions increased separatist movement. As was said by Ali Muhammad, Takdir mentioned that it is important for local government to pay more attention to the education and health sectors.

“National development should continue, but the human resources in Papua also needs quality improvement. Do not let the exploited nature result in a nonexisting development,” he stated.

At the end of the discussion, Takdir added that the Indonesian government has a responsibility to grow the seeds of nationalism, not regionalism. Papua should have the same rights as the other regions. (ak)

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