Politics in Indonesia is a game played by those in power to further their personal cause. It would be important to note as well that the government structure of Indonesia is decentralized which means that each head of province has their own budget and can make decisions themselves (with restrictions of course). With this in mind, the following are my reasons to think why West Papua will not be liberated. Although I believe they would not be ‘liberated’ (I don’t beleive they are oppressed), I do hope the locals will, in the future, have better lives. By liberated I mean be an independent, sovereign country.
- It is not a secret that the Jakarta government saps money out of West Papua. Many people think its wrong and they are right but only to a certain extent. A majority of the Indonesian people live in Jakarta and naturally, the government would need more money.
- Freeport (a mining company) has snuggly began mining there which create jobs and revenue for West Papua, Jakarta and Indonesia as a whole. Freeport is a multinational company and having them within Indonesia could attract other businesses (mostly within the same sector/area of business)
- If West Papua will not use force to achieve this ‘liberation’ because people are still traumatic from the war in East Timor which is now an independent country but the civil war was horrifying. Thousand of lives lost and countless heads on pikes to inspire fear.
- West Papua has natural resources.
- How will we be sure that their independence will not only benefit the politicians there but also the locals? We can’t.
In West Papua there are also illegal artisenal gold mining taking place. The companies who are mining it of course have people in government on their payroll so hat they don’t get caught. Fake documents are also not insanely hard to create in Indonesia.
The locals of West Papua are impoverished (as seen in the movie ‘Tanah Mama’) and since beggars can’t be choosers, they do not care what happens as long as they can find a way to get more money and get out of poverty. This would mean that if their government needed to persuade the people to want to be independent, it would not have been a hard task.
Moreover, what makes people think that if West Papua is independent it will thrive and suddenly all of its people will get out of poverty. The truth is being independent is not the answer because once that happens, the government will then take even more advantage of the locals and as the old song gets sung again. The rich will get richer whereas the poor will get poorer.
The answer is quiet clear. Indonesia has to provide for the people of West Papua. The illegal mining needs to be stopped so that we can reap all of its benefits. The Indonesian central government must create jobs for those people because as of now, West Papua is still a part of Indonesia and therefore must be treated as such. If president Jokowi manage to fulfill his promises and implement all his political plans unscathed, this solution may be viable due to the amount of money Indonesia will then have, but if not, the uphill battle for West Papua may continue without a light in sight of the dark, long tunnel.