Jakarta, Jubi – Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has spoken that war would not solve the Papua conflict but law enforcement against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) was a part of the strategy to expedite a dialogue with the Papuan people, suggesting the TPNPB was only a small group and not representing the Papuans.
Mahfud said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's instructions were to prioritize the welfare approach to resolve the conflict in Papua.
"In principle, according to the president's instruction, solving problems in Papua should not be done with weapons and explosions but dialogue for the sake of welfare," Mahfud said on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
However, he added, escalated armed conflict between the TPNPB and Indonesian security forces was justified to expedite the dialogue between the government and the larger Papuan community.
"The law enforcement against armed groups is part of ways to smooth dialogue with the Papuans, a population bigger than the armed groups," he said.
Mahfud claimed the government would put forward dialogue in solving the Papua conflict. He said the Ministry had had a meeting with the Papuan People's Assembly on Friday.
TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom said his party was ready to engage in dialogue with the government but the Indonesian military (TNI) and police continued to fight and capture them. Sambom said the TPNPB agreed to talk but with the United Nations (UN) as an intermediary.
"We accept the President's good intentions but on the condition that the negotiations be mediated by the UN," he said.
According to Sambom, his group had asked for negotiation since 2019 but to no avail. "We have asked the Indonesian government so many times. We are waiting for President Joko Widodo's commitment," he said.
Meanwhile, responding to Mahfud's statement, rights watchdog Imparsial researcher Hussein Ahmad asked Jokowi to withdraw all non-organic TNI troops, or the TNI personnel from outside Papua, from Papua to reduce violence in the region.
Ahmad said he appreciated the government's intention to resolve the Papua issue without weapons. However, he reminded that this intention must be proven on the ground with a clear policy.
"The statement must be proven by withdrawing all non-organic TNI troops from outside Papua to stop the escalation of violence," he said.