Fijitimes.com on September 25, 2020 reported that Indonesian police have arrested about 200 demonstrators at different locations across Nabire regency. The truth was, around 100 people were questioned, not arrest, as tirto.id wrote. The demonstrations were to protest an extension of the so-called Special Autonomy laws, first brought in 2001.
What the statement of the United Liberation Front in West Papua was untrue that 20 years of Special Autonomy had meant more killing, more marginalization, and more environmental and cultural destruction. The fact, as being reported by Antara that several Papuan community and religious leaders have appealed to the central government to extend the special autonomy status which will end in 2021 to maintain sustainable development and improve the people’s welfare in Papua and West Papua Provinces.
Thanks to the special autonomy funds, many of us can be assisted. Without the funds, our buildings remain ugly and damaged,” the Yalimo community leader, Soleman Eselo.
Eselo said the special autonomy funds that the government has granted to Papua and West Papua Provinces for many years are so helpful for Papuans living in remote mountains to achieve their successes in various fields.
“I have been participating in educating Papuans coming from mountainous and hilly regions since 1981. Many of them have been promoted to be bureaucrats owing to availability of the special autonomy funds that has made us get assisted,” he said.
Christian priest Merry Lauren Wompere, a member of the Solagratia Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Solagratia) of Arso II in Keerom District, also shared Eselo’s views saying that Papua Province’s development was much better during the special autonomy era.
“Representing the GKI Solagratia Jaifuri congregation, I request (to the government) to carry on the special autonomy status for the sake of development and progress in Papua,” Wompere said.
Those refusing the special autonomy status did not represent the voice of Papuan people’s conscience. “Instead, they are the enemies of the Papuan people,” Wompere said.
The former president Megawati Soekarnoputri administration passed a law on special autonomy in Papua and West Papua provinces in 2001 to guarantee Papuans the right to manage their own region politically, economically and culturally. The law also stipulated the allocation of special autonomy funds, valid for 20 years.
As the transfer of funds will end in 2021, the House of Representatives has included deliberation of Papua’s special autonomy status in this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list.