For the last couple of years, there had been news about genocide in West Papua as the rebellion of Free Papua Movement keeps striving for its independence. The issues had been going on internationally for years, and the world keep asking, why did no one seem to care about it?
The issues of the genocide of Papuan people have never been taken to court, or even investigated because there is no such thing happening in Papua. As the conflict between the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Papua Movement separatists continue, the only killings happened is under the name of the conflict – not a genocide.
What Falls under Genocide Criteria?
In its term, genocide is the extermination of a big portion or a whole race, nationality, religious, or ethnic groups. The act is done deliberately by a group of people towards another. The reason may be varied, from land disputes, differences in beliefs to conflicts over power.
Often, the act of genocide is systematic and organized. In all cases of genocides, the persecuting group created methods and strategies to reduce the number of another specific group. It could have been through arranged starvation, separating the children, poisoning, or mass murders.
This leads us to the logic that if there is genocide happening in West Papua, the sentiments would have gone nation-wide. Papuan people might have limited access to education, there would be no proper government of development in the area, or the number of the Papuan people would decrease in short period.
The Pro-Rebellion Agents Abroad
The separatist side of the West Papua has been making formation and strategy of declaring its independence which they claimed was taken by Indonesia. The conflicts, issues, and claims have been made by the local separatist such as Free Papua Movement (OPM), National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), and United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
What made it worse is that there are separatist agents who fled to other countries such as Australia, Netherlands, England, Senegal, and Vanuatu. These agents are creating issues to get help from international organizations and manipulate the movement remotely.
Despite the support from international organizations, the issue had never been investigated. The Free Papua Movement agents claimed that they have proofs of what has been happening in Papua – a repression from Indonesia. Yet, the files have never been published. The conflict of the separatists in Papua has indeed involved killings, but it is definitely not genocide.
Where the Terror Actually Came From
In 2017, there were at least 18 terrors happened in around West Papua. The police have confirmed that the terrors came from what they call “Armed Criminal Group”. In several various occasion, the group burned down residents’ houses, fire shots to crossing aircrafts and police headquarters. It is also believed that the group’s personnel came originally from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) who tries to continue their fight against Indonesia.
Let’s Talk About the Statistics
If we are talking about the genocide, we should see the fact of the number of the population. Certainly, if there is genocide in West Papua, the number of Papuan people would decrease either quickly or slowly. While the separatists claimed that they have been struggling for independence for around 50 years, the number of Papuan people still grows during that length of time.
According to the national census done in 2010, there are 2.159.318 indigenous people in West Papua. In the estimation made by the National Family Planning Board (BKKBN), the number would grow to around 3.7 million in ten years.
Although the population growth in Papua can be considered slow, genocide is not the reason behind it. One of the issues that made the population growth seems slow is because many people are comparing it with Papua New Guinea’s population growth. Still, a region’s population growth cannot be directly compared with another country’s population growth.
In Indonesia, the government is making programs where the population growth should be balanced with the life expectancy and education quality. The programs have been applied through the massive development and efforts in increasing the life quality on every part of Papua.
The Achievements of Papuan People
Another fact that denies the idea of genocide in West Papua is that Papuan people have contributed positively to the Republic of Indonesia. Some of them even hold an important position in the government. Currently, Yohana Yembise from Jayapura is serving as the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia.
Other names that have been serving in the Republic of Indonesia’s government are Balthasar Kambuaya and Barnabas Suebu. In other fields, Titus Bonai, Boaz Solossa, Patrick Wanggai, and Lisa Rumbewas are some of the notable names in the Indonesian sports.
Not to mention that there are also professional artists, actors and actresses, and musicians from West Papua like Ari Sihasale, Edo Kondologit, and Michael Herman Jakarimilena. This proves that there is no gap between Papuan people and other ethnic groups in Indonesia. Melanesian people in West Papua live in harmony and have the same chance as any other Indonesians.
It is indeed true that the conflicts in West Papua have yet to be erased. However, the Indonesian government is still putting their biggest effort to embrace the separatists and creating an adequate security for the people of West Papua in Indonesia.