Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) Chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik hopes that peace talks between Papua and Jakarta can begin to be held this year.
"The hope is that this year the initial stage can begin, and the government, the OPM [Free Papua Movement], social figures, church figures, traditional figures, can begin to sit down [together and talk]", said Damanik at the Shangri-la Hotel in Jakarta on Wednesday March 9.
Despite this, Damanik did not deny that efforts to develop peaceful dialogue between Papua and Jakarta will not be easy.
And although he hopes that the dialogue can be held this year, he could not predict however whether it would really be as hoped.
This is because dialogue between Jakarta and Papua will be a long process that is very much dependent upon the political situation, the armed conflict and security situation.
Nevertheless, Komnas HAM will be the first party to initiate dialogue by opening up communication with figures in Papua, and primarily with Papuan pro-independence groups.
"But we will do it and next week we will depart to initiate it, it will be a long process and we'll need to seek out [opportunities] all over the place", added Damanik.
Earlier it was reported that Damanik had confirmed that peace talks with Papuan pro-independence groups would soon be initiated, and that this has already been agreed to by senior state officials.
"It's been agreed to by the president. Several times we've met with him and he agrees", said Damanik.
"Pak Menkopolhukam [Mr Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD], also the TNI [Indonesian military] commander – the previous and current one – also appreciated it. In the case of the Kapolri [Indonesian police chief], right from the start he appreciated it", he continued.
Damanik explained that pro-independence camp will be the groups that are prioritised in the peace talks, and aside from them there will also be traditional community figures, church figures and others.
If these figures are prepared to hold a dialogue with Jakarta – and on the other hand the Palace is also ready – then face-to-face peace talks between the two camps can go ahead.
"[Including] (United Liberation Movement for West Papua Chairperson) Benny Wenda", explained Damanik.
"Especially the pro-independence [groups], they must be invited to talk, if not it won't work. What's most important, is yes, them. I also said to the government at that time, we can't refuse to start communication with Papua independence figures who indeed many people still listen to", he said.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Komnas HAM Harap Dialog Damai Papua-Jakarta Bisa Dimulai Tahun Ini".]