Jayapura – Citizens including a religious figure demand the Indonesian state to take responsibility for the displaced people who had left their homes due to fear of losing their lives amid armed conflicts in the two regencies in Papua Land, or internationally known as West Papua
Pastor Dora Balubun, the head of Justice, Peace, and Unity of God's Creatures of the Evangelist Churches Synod in Papua Land, said in a public discussion on Intan Jaya on Tuesday, March 9, that the Republic of Indonesia had neglected thousands of displaced people from Nduga and Intan Jaya. "The state has to take responsibility. They cannot just turn a blind. They owe Papuans a lot. First, they own Nduga displaced people since 2018, and now they owe Intan Jaya displaced people," Balubun said.
Balubun said the government must take concrete actions to restore peace and welfare to the Nduga and Intan Jaya displaced people. "What's the central government has done to the displaced citizens? Are you going to just let them like that?" she said.
Balubun said the churches did not have enough power to restore peace and welfare for the internally displaced people. "It's going to be Easter Sunday soon, we have to take care of them," she went on.
She criticized the central government and Papua provincial administration which she called "busy building infrastructure but neglecting the people".
"The government talks about development in Papua, but they do not think about developing the people, especially the displaced ones. What do they need now? Do they have the same rights with other Papuans?" she said.
Another speaker in the discussion, Yanuarius Weya, said Intan Jaya Regency was not a conflict zone in Papua, until later it became an independent regency in 2008, after being split from Paniai Regency.
In 2012, political conflicts began to occur. Previously, Intan Jaya only saw occasional tribal conflicts. "In Intan Jaya, conflicts emerged in the regency, starting with a stabbing of a tribal chief by a motorcycle taxi (ojek) driver. Nowadays, the kind of conflicts occurring there was shots heard in one kampung and then another kampung. Old people are scared, they then fled their kampung to hide in the jungle or in the neighboring regencies," Weya said.
Weya said many people that had left their kampung could not return home up until now. He said the violence happened mostly in Sugapa and Hitadipa, where the churches had the largest congregation compared to other districts in the regency.
In late February and early March, the police repeated statements that Intan Jaya was "under control" and there were no displaced people there anymore. They said the displaced people took temporary shelter at the churches but the police claimed they all went back to their homes.
Several days after the claim, a Catholic priest in Intan Jaya received a dead body from the Indonesian Military. The priest said the dead body was his congregation member in Titigi Parish, under Catholic Church's Timika Diocese. It was reported that the dead man, Donatus Mirip, 38, was shot on Feb. 27 when he was wandering from one empty kampung to another in Sugapa district. Mirip was deaf and had a mental disorder, his neighbors said.
Get the resources, neglect the people
The speakers in public discussion also talked about Indonesia's motivation in keeping Papua Land. They said Indonesian government wanted the land and all the riches on the land, but they did not want the people.
Pastor Balubun said Papua Land was "so rich that the native Papuans could not sleep well". She said native Papuans could not live in peace because people wanted to get the resources from them.
The discussion, titled "What is happening in Intan Jaya", was organized by Theology Academy Walter Post in Jayapura.
"Such violence, happening now in Nduga and Intan Jaya, is not new in Papua Land, it has occurred for decades. Indonesia fought to keep Papua Land not because of the people, but because of the riches on the land," Balubun said.
What happened in Intan Jaya, she said, was related to the potential gold reserve there. Intan Jaya borders on Mimika Regency, the location of PT Freeport Indonesia, the country's biggest mining company.
She said people in Intan Jaya fled the kampung because the Indonesian Military occupied a school.
She said TNI and the police made a wrong approach that led to the deaths of civilians. "The gold is in the mountain. Why do they disturb the peace of the people at home?" she said.
"What does the government have to say about the conflicts? I haven't heard from them. Now churches act as if we are firefighters, extinguishing fires when it already happened. All churches in Papua Land, Kingmi, GIDI, Baptist, Catholic, GKI, all of us had to take care of the victims," she said.
Pastor Nikolaus Degei from Papuan People Council said the government neglected the welfare of native Papuans because they stigmatized the native Papuans as separatists. If the government regarded Intan Jaya residents as Indonesians, then the state has to uphold the state ideology, Pancasila, he said in the discussion.
Among the five principles in Pancasila were humanity and social justice.
Degei challenged the central government narrative claiming that Intan Jaya was "secured and under control" because it was untrue. "TNI and the police are still wandering around in Intan Jaya Regency. The people are now afraid, they limit their activities like going to the field, studying, offices and hospitals, they all do not go smoothly like normal now," he said.