Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Indonesian Student Association (PPI) held the first ever talk on Papua at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) in New Zealand on Monday, with the aim of providing information on the development of the eastern most region of Indonesia.
For the event, titled "Papua Today", the association invited three Papuans speakers, Franz Joku and Nick Messet, who are both former West Papua independence campaigners and now consult the Indonesian government on West Papua-related issues, and Michael Menufandu, a Papuan diplomat.
Michael applauded the current special autonomous status granted to the region, which permits only native Papuans to lead Papua, saying, "You see now that all leaders, from governors to mayors, are native Papuans. Even our military leaders are also Papuans."
Meanwhile, Nick, who is a former foreign minister of the Papuan Independence Group, said he believed Papua today was what he and his friends had dreamed of and fought for.
"Papua today is what we struggled for! We dreamed about having leaders from our people, and now there they are," Nick said.
Contacted separately, Indonesian ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya said that he appreciated such discussions as they could shine a light for New Zealanders who showed an interest in and cared about Papua.
"I fully support PPI New Zealand's initiative to hold such an event. It is important to provide New Zealanders with correct, accurate and factual information on Papua. It is a big initiative," Tantowi said on Tuesday.