Nethy Dharma Somba and Bambang Muryanto, Jayapura/Yogyakarta – Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has sent a team to Yogyakarta following an attack by a number of community organizations at a Papuan student dormitory in Kamasan, Yogyakarta, on July 15.
The team will seek information and verify a call made by a Papuan student association in Yogyakarta for Papuan students in the province to return to Papua on account of a lack of security assurances from the Yogyakarta authorities over their safety.
"In response to developments following the attack on the Papuan student dormitory in Yogyakarta, the governor has sent a team to consolidate the Yogyakarta provincial administration, Governor Hamengkubuwono and the [Papuan] students," said Papua provincial secretary Hery Dosinaen in Jayapura on Monday.
The consolidation team, which left Papua on Sunday, was led by Papua Legislative Council (DPRD) speaker Edo Kaize, deputy speaker Yanni and DPRD Commission I head Elvis Tabuni.
Dosinaen said Enembe expected the students to return to campus and continue their regularly scheduled activities, and to not feel afraid or alienated because the children of Papua were Indonesians and had the right to study anywhere in the country.
"They don't have to return to Papua. Disagreements are common so don't leave Yogyakarta simply because of this," said Dosinaen. Enembe expressed hope that Papuans studying in Yogyakarta would be accommodated by the local administration, and that any further issues would be communicated.
Papua human rights observer and Yap Thiam Hien Award recipient Rev. John Jonga said the case in Yogyakarta should be resolved by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo because the separatist label attached to the Papuan students would put their safety at risk.
"The President should not consider the problem faced by the Papuan students as trivial, because they no longer feel comfortable there, especially with the separatist label given to them, as it puts pressure on them and makes them fearful," he said.
He further said that a statement from the Alliance of Papuan Students (AMP) in Yogyakarta that they would return to Papua because they did not feel safe was a slap in the face of the Jokowi government for not being able to protect its citizens.
"What's the use of coming to Papua to build if the government is unable to provide security and comfort for Papuans in other areas in Indonesia? The students are not separatists, and expressing aspirations is not treason," said Jonga.
Jonga expressed concern that if the Papuan students in Yogyakarta returned to Papua, they would be followed by other students on other islands, which would eventually trigger international attention. "The government must immediately address the problem in Yogyakarta so that everything returns to normal," said Jonga.
Earlier, the AMP in Yogyakarta declared its plan to return to Papua in the absence of assurances over its members' safety following an accusation by the Yogyakarta governor that they had been involved in separatism. "We have decided to go back home [to Papua]," said Roy Karoba of the AMP on Sunday.
The decision was made, Roy added, following a meeting of Papuan students in Yogyakarta last Thursday. He, however, declined to mention when and how many of them would return to Papua. There are about 8,000 Papuan students studying in Yogyakarta.
General secretary of the Association of Papuan Youths and Students (IKPMDP), Ruben C. Frasa, said earlier that the decision was triggered by the repressive acts of security authorities in Yogyakarta against their planned rally on July 15 in support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's (ULMWP) bid for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), and also by the governor's statement that there was no place for separatists in Yogyakarta.