Jayapura, Jubi – The dean of the Faculty of Social Science at Okmin University of Papua, Octaviaen Gerald Bidana said Papua's New Autonomous Region (DOB) established by the Central Government was a deliberate strategy aimed at sidelining the Indigenous Papuan population. This strategy involves the establishment of entry points for large-scale transmigration programs.
Bidana made these remarks during an online discussion titled "Demography, Expansion, and Papuan Development" organized by the Papua Task Force Department of the Catholic Youth Center Management on September 16, 2023. He asserted that the expansion effectively serves as a gateway for transmigration, with Indigenous Papuans being enticed by promises of welfare and development that ultimately turn out to be deceptive.
Echoing Bidana's concerns, Nguruh Suryawan, a lecturer of Anthropology at the State University of Papua, pointed out that the expansion areas have seen an uncontrolled influx of immigrants. This unregulated migration, he argued, poses a significant threat to the Indigenous Papuan population, leading to their gradual marginalization.
Meanwhile, Riwanto Tirtosudarmo, an Indonesian Political Demographer, analyzed the situation from a demographic perspective. He noted that with the establishment of DOBs in Papua, the Papuan population is likely to become a minority in their own homeland due to the increasing number of immigrants.
In essence, the Central Government's stated objective for expansion in Papua is to promote equitable and accelerated development in Eastern Indonesia. However, the participants in this online discussion expressed skepticism, as they believe the reality on the ground tells a different story.
The discussion was hosted by Alfonsa Jumkon Wayap, Chairperson of the Women and Children Division of the Catholic Youth Central Board, and is part of a regular online discussion series organized by the Papua Task Force Department of the Catholic Youth Central Board. (*)