Papua Task Force from UGM Calls for Reflection on Approaches for Peace in the Easternmost Region of Indonesia

- 16 May 2023 14:23 WIB
Illustration. Papuan children pose for a photo in front of a bridge in Sentani, Jayapura, Papua.
Illustration. Papuan children pose for a photo in front of a bridge in Sentani, Jayapura, Papua.

JAKARTADAILY.ID – During the 14th Strategic Policy on Papua Forum held on May 10, the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Papua Task Force emphasized the importance of reflecting on the approaches employed to address the issues in Papua and foster peace in the region, Antaranews reports.

Arief Ruhyanto, the secretary of the task force, expressed this opinion, as stated in a press statement received from UGM on Saturday. Ruhyanto highlighted the devastating toll the conflict in Papua has taken on lives, including both security personnel and civilians.

He argued that in order to effectively address the situation, it is necessary to reflect not only on the issues of separatism and independence but also on the segregation within communities and the violence based on identity.

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The ongoing economic and infrastructure developments in Papua, despite their positive intentions, have unfortunately been accompanied by an increase in conflict and acts of violence, according to Ruhyanto.

At the forum, Pastor Leonora Dora Balubun from the Papuan Biblical Christian Church (GKI) Synod emphasized the significance of community participation in the development process as a means to prevent conflicts.

Balubun also highlighted the importance of engaging churches in the policymaking processes, as they have played a crucial role in nurturing peace and preventing the escalation of conflicts. Balubun stated, "Our people do hear voices of churches. This is a key to peace if the government, along with churches and Muslim communities in Papua, can work together. Churches are the government's equal partners."

Lexie Durimalang, the chairperson of the Kawanua (compatriot) Family Harmony in Southwest Papua Province, shared perspectives on creating and maintaining harmony in local communities as a non-native resident.

Durimalang stressed the importance of building harmony while employing the best approaches to peace through religious and community figures. Non-indigenous residents in Papua have been actively striving to engage locals in their activities, respecting their traditions, and encouraging collaboration.

From an anthropological standpoint, Laksmi Adriani Savitri, an anthropologist from UGM, argued that structural violence and colonial cultures lie at the heart of the main problems in Papua.

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Savitri emphasized that the process of acculturation between non-native residents and indigenous Papuans has generally proceeded smoothly, with cultural assimilation dating back to the early 1900s when farming practices from Java were introduced.

Savitri contended that this process involves not only the transfer of knowledge but also an appreciation of equality in embracing modernity, encompassing elements of ambivalence and mimicry.

Savitri further recommended that grassroots peacebuilding efforts begin by eliminating "labeling" and "suspicious thoughts." She emphasized the need for social transformation in Papua to be rooted in empowering initiatives that bring people closer together.


Editor: Suksmajati Kumara


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