If we look back on the news about the development of West Papua, the public will never forget the brutality of the criminal groups in the Nduga area that killed dozens of the TansPapua road construction workers and even raped teachers. Amid echoes of the hard work of many parties to advance and help West Papuans meet their basic needs and rights, some individuals and groups, who are not residing in West Papua, continue to voice heinous propaganda that West Papua is full of cruelty and dangerous.
The propaganda is based on evil assumptions and interests because they have left West Papua long ago and are unaware of developments in the area. These criminals enjoy financial benefits and fame from the false news they spread.
The good and bad guys in West Papua
It is still apparent in our memory that last December in 2018, the criminal acts in West Papua had claimed many innocent lives. Dozens of workers who had nothing to do with the government or security forces were brutally shot by an armed criminal group (KKB) led by Egianus Kogoya. A few months earlier, 16 teachers and medical personnel who served in Mapenduma, Nduga Regency, were taken hostage, threatened, and left without sufficient food by the armed criminal groups.
Native West Papuans already confirm that they currently need more teacher and health workers to speed up the current development. Unfortunately, the cruelty of these criminals has been tarnishing the spirit of development in the West Papua area.
In addition to disrupting the development of West Papua, the ongoing atrocities also cause many social and economic problems by paralyzing the local safety and economy. In that sense, let alone teaching and health workers, we regular people wouldn’t want even to think to visit West Papua!
Director of the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation, Theo Hesegem – a native West Papuan, stated that the most disadvantaged in such tragic tragedies are children and women who must leave their homes to evacuate themselves. There were more than 1000 refugees coming out of Nduga Regency. Being in the refugee camps, they would lose the opportunity to develop themselves. For West Papuan children, they lost their golden opportunity to go to school.
When cruelty and savagery of the criminal group are taking place, though, there are an enormous number of individuals and groups who unconditionally ensure the fundamental rights of native West Papuans can be fulfilled.
Many volunteer teachers come to West Papua to make sure that Papuan children receive a quality education as equal as in other regions. Many medical personnel volunteers also come to West Papua to make sure West Papua residents have access to better health care and health knowledge.
Some organizations even deliberately build schools and libraries in Papua to ensure the future of the younger generation of Papua has the provision to become future leaders and changemakers for West Papua.
Meanwhile, the local government provides many scholarship opportunities for West Papuan children to be able to study abroad and taste world-class education. Evidently, most of those who went to school abroad, such as in the United States and England successfully managed to get a remarkable title with satisfactory grades. Moreover, some Native West Papuans have even become great writers, art workers, and academics that are diligent in their works.
Those that are busily worsening West Papua
While this optimism is echoing, some parties are instead busy creating a tense atmosphere and impeding development in West Papua. The criminals keep firing sporadic attacks which are claimed to only target the security forces. In fact, the attacks continue to take many civilian victims and even Native West Papuans. They make civilians as their living shield!
We still remember how Benny Wenda infiltrated or being infiltrated to the Vanuatu government delegation to hold a hearing before the UN Human Rights Council. Benny submitted a Papuan independence petition which he claimed had been signed by 1.8 million Native Papuans.
Recently, along with his compatriot, Jacob Rumbiak, Benny issued a one-sided claim that they had succeeded in uniting military factions in Papua. They claim that his organization, United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), has become the leader of a new military force called West Papua Army.
Recently, Rosa Moiwend, who claimed herself to be West Papua Human Rights Defender, spoke in New Zealand about the need for more countries to challenge Indonesia about human rights violations in West Papua. He told Pacific Media Watch about the confiscation of Indonesian customary land for oil palm development and Indonesia intention to isolate West Papua from other Pacific regions.
“Land has been taken away from the indigenous people,” she said. These claims may sound like support for West Papua.
Time tells the truth
However, the time has proven that they are baseless claims for irresponsible interests, which then even make the face of West Papua seems horrific. This has resulted in the lack of investors coming to West Papua and is undoubtedly detrimental to the region’s economic growth.
Indonesia, through Vice President of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla, immediately launched an open protest against Vanuatu at the UN General Assembly forum last year over Benny Wenda’s infiltration to their delegation.
Moreover, the statement of ULMWP regarding the army unification was immediately rejected by military factions that had been claimed to be united. In some of their accounts they even stated that they were not affiliated with ULMWP. Benny’s claim is considered as a betrayal to play the issue for his personal gains only.
About Rosa Moiwend, she said that she has not seen the recent development in West Papua for the last decade. Even Rosa herself stated that her statement was based on mere assumptions!
No firearms, but chalks, books, medicines
In the midst of sincerity and the high will of joint public to build West Papua, they are busy spreading hatred and gripping news which are totally baseless. Even before Rosa Moiwend’s “defense” for West Papua Human Rights, the central government had given recognition of the communal rights of nine territories of native people in West Papua as part of the protection of local cultures and their peoples. The government provides customary communal land certificates to indigenous peoples in Papua and West Papua provinces.
With the current special autonomy, now all regional leaders in there are Native West Papuans. The development and prosperity of West Papua today has been the primary concern of the central and local government, so there is no significant discrimination, no Javanization as some claims splutter.
There are still some claims that the presence of security forces in West Papua are the evidence of the deterioration of the human rights cases in the region. Those are indeed very contrary to the reality that occurred in there.
The presence of security forces is actually supported by the local government to maintain the stability of social and economic conditions in West Papua. The number of security forces is even starting to be overtaken by the number of health workers and teachers in West Papua. This info has been confirmed by an aspired West Papuan female writer, Aprila Wayar.
In the current Jokowi era, Aprila explained, West Papua gets the bigger opportunity to witness the presence of many volunteers of health workers and educators there.
Some members of the security forces are not even holding firearms, but chalks, books, medicines, vaccines and consultation time they provide for children, youth and all West Papuans so they can enjoy access to education and health. The efforts and hard work of many parties to encourage the welfare of the people of West Papua should inspire the international public about what is indeed happening in the area.
West Papua is certainly not an area that has a beautiful past. There have been many criminal acts and human rights violations anyone can never hide those.
However, Papua today has significantly advanced. Access to the main sectors like education, health, and economy is more advanced and widely open, especially for the native people of West Papua. Individuals and groups from various sectors have been working hand in hand to build the region where most of the work carried out without any cynical motives or interests.
Again, it must be realized that there have been many efforts to fulfill basic needs and rights such as access to education, economy, and health for the people of West Papua. West Papua is still far from being prosperous, but it does get better and develop marvelously!
Unfortunately, some parties like OPM, ULMWP, Benny Wenda, Jacob Rumbiak and Rosa Moiwend keep worsening the situation of West Papua and even harming the fulfillment of human rights there.
Now one with an open mind should be able to see clearly regarding who the actual human rights violators are in West Papua… (*)