M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – Human rights watchdog the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Friday condemned the democratic setback showcased by the government in the form of passing three draft bills to expand Papua's autonomous regions. The passed law officially legalizes three new provinces in South Papua Province, Central Papua Province, and Papua Highlands Province.
"This legal passing is a form of government's coercion of will as the legalization of the draft bills had not undergone legitimate procedures," said KontraS deputy coordinator Rivanlee Anandar in a written statement on Friday, July 1.
He believed the government had shown recklessness and failed to involve Papuans, which he believed had massively protested against the expansion. "This surely is like adding salt to the wound of indigenous Papuans," he added.
According to Rivanlee, the Indonesian government and the House of Representatives (DPR) have failed to maximize dialogue that included locals, and the passing of the laws did not get approval from the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP).
He added this was contrary to Article 76 of the Special Autonomy Law, which mandates that the division of provinces and districts/cities into provinces and regencies/municipalities can be carried out with the approval of the MRP and the DPRP after seriously paying attention to socio-cultural unity, the readiness of human resources, economic capabilities, and future developments.
KontraS suspected there were business and economic motives behind the government's adamance of expanding the number of provinces in Papua. He believed various locations, such as Intan Jaya regency, are allegedly home to abundant natural resources that are prone to exploitation.