A global Papuan students abroad umbrella organisation has appealed for a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to air their grievances over changes to the scholarship system which they say are unfairly impacting on their studies.
In a statement today responding to a letter by the Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand and the Pacific to Asia Pacific Report yesterday, the International Alliance of Papuan Students Association Overseas (IAPSAO) said: "Our demands are clear. So, the Indonesian Embassy should not obscure our demands.
"When the Indonesian Embassy does not fight to save 42 students in New Zealand and 84 students in the USA, we suspect that the Indonesian Embassy is also involved in the attempt to kill Papuan human resources."
The student alliance which represents Papuan affiliates in Canada, Germany, Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand), Japan and Russia, challenged statements made by Ambassador Fientje Maritje Suebu published in Asia Pacific Report yesterday.
The embassy's claim that students were being repatriated because of no progress "is not true and baseless", according to the data issued by the Papua Province Human Resources Development Agency.
"Currently, all the students whose names are listed in the letter, are all studying in their respective programmes. Some are already in their second year, third year and some are finishing their final project or thesis," said the IAPSAO statement signed by Oceania president Yan Piterson Wenda and four other student presidents.
The statement said that IAPSAO and the coordinator of the Papua province scholarship in New Zealand, "have investigated this... Some of the names listed on the list have completed their studies.
'What is the motive?'
"We cannot find any reason why students who are making good progress are also listed. Therefore, we question what is the motive for this incorrect data?"
The statement cited a letter issued by the Papua Province Human Resources Development Agency dated 17 December 2021 regarding the termination of overseas scholarships – 42 students in New Zealand and 84 students in the USA.
"So, the numbers issued by the Indonesian Embassy – 39 students in New Zealand and 51 students in the United States – are incorrect."
While IAPSAO conceded there were no actual education budget cuts, it said the Jakarta central government had revoked the authority held by the governor as a regional head.
"The problem is not about the budget, but about the authority to set the budget and other important things," the statement said.
"The sending and financing of Papuan students abroad are based on the 'policy of the Governor' Lukas Enembe, not from the central government.
"Once the Special Autonomy Law volume two was passed, the governor's authority was also limited, and automatically it is affecting students, the recipients of Papua province Foreign Scholarship."
The students added: "We have no political agenda in issuing public statements. We demand our right to study in peace and quiet."