Friday, 23 Aug 2019

Papua, a province that incredibly resource rich, that forgotten by goverment


Photo : InternetPhoto : Internet -  Papua has been a sensitive region since it became part of Indonesia in the 1960s following what some historians allege was a flawed UN-supervised vote.

Just 1,063 people were selected to vote. 

The province is incredibly resource rich, home to the world's biggest gold mine, which is one of Indonesia's largest taxpayers.

The government says Papua is an integral part of Indonesia and that this has been recognised by the United Nations. But a low-level separatist movement, fighting for independence, continues to this day.

The military has been accused by rights groups of gross human rights abuses in its attempts to suppress any dissent.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, on a visit last week to Indonesia, said he was concerned "about increasing reports of the excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua".

He said the Indonesian government had invited the United Nations to send a mission to the province, something it would do soon.

In an attempt to ease tensions, Papua was granted greater autonomy in 2001, and there has been a significant increase in government funds for the region, with Jakarta vowing to bring prosperity to the people of Papua.

In wake of the outbreaks of measles and malnutrition crisis, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that special autonomy funding for the province would be re-evaluated to make sure it was being used for development.

"This is a lesson for us, because throughout this time the special autonomy funds have been disbursed as a block grant to the provincial government - even though special autonomy has specific purposes," she said last week.

The Regent of Asmat, Elisa Kambu, said the problem had wider issues.

He said people in Jakarta "just talk about money, that lots of money comes to Papua; money alone cannot solve this problem".

"Asmat is a wake-up call for us all," said presidential advisor, Yanuar Nugroho.

He said a number of other areas in Papua could face the same health crisis and Asmat was just the tip of the iceberg.

"The problem lies with the local government," he said.

A proposal President Widodo to relocate Asmat people scattered throughout the jungle into a town, so they could be close to medical services, was immediately rejected by local leaders.

"Moving people is not as easy as that because we have culture, customs, land rights and connection to the land," says the regent, Elisa Kambu.

President Widodo has visited Papua more than six times since his election in 2014, working hard to demonstrate Jakarta's commitment to developing the province, prioritising infrastructure construction.

And in the wake of the crisis the government has vowed to invest more in health facilities across the remote area as well as schools.






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