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Papua priest welcomes discussion call

SBY's peace initiative could bear fruit but 'only if talks are secret' staff, Jakarta

November 11, 2011

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A Catholic priest coordinating the Papuan Peace Network today welcomed the idea of dialogue between Jakarta and the province as recently announced by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Planned discussions aim to find solutions to increasing violence in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. “The president’s announcement shows the government has commitment to deal with problems in the land of Papua and to find solutions through peaceful dialogue,” Father Neles Tebay said. Such commitment should be supported by all parties wanting peace in Papua, he said, and everyone should also welcome the government’s openness. “We believe that violence in whatever form will never resolve any problems. (We must) find solutions,” he said. He recommended that any discussions should be behind closed doors. They “are essential to get rid of all suspicions which can be obstacles to the dialogue. These are also important to get common perception on basic principles, goal, target, agenda, mechanism, venue and facilitator. Without these, the Jakarta-Papua dialogue is impossible,” he asserted. On November 9 Yudhoyono said he was open to the dialogue initiative. He, however, maintained that this dialogue must be based on three pillars: the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, special autonomy and the accelerated development of Papua and West Papua as a national priority. The move was a response to growing unrest in Papua, where a military crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in October killed at least six people. An ongoing strike at the huge Grasberg mine, probably the world's largest gold mine, run by Freeport-McMoRan, has also escalated tension and a number of violent deaths of workers and security forces have been reported near the site.
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