Last month, President Susilo Bambang Ydhoyono announced the importance of an open dialogue with Papuans to find the best resolution to ongoing strife. Yudhoyono said that dialogue can proceed on the basis of three premises: the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia, special autonomy and the accelerated development of Papua and West Papua as a national priority. From the Papuan perspective, the president has given hope amid a deadlock in political communication between Jakarta and Papua, leaving some with the hope of a peaceful solution to the conflict. Without any outside pressure, Ydhoyono has even initiated a progressive step by forming the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua and has appointed retired Lieutenant General BAmbang Dharmono, former Aceh province commander and a negotiator representing Indonesia for the Aceh Monitoring Mission, to lead the new unit. This unit is expected to bridge the communication gap between the central government in Jakarta and the people and governments in Papua and West Papua provinces. President Yudhoyono has also appointed Farid Husein, former negotiator in the Aceh peace process six years ago, as his special envoy to prepare for the dialogue. As the government’s official representative, Husein is responsible for improving communication with the Papuan leaders both inside and outside the country to facilitate discussions. Now the central government will need support from various political parties to maintain this momentum. All political parties in Papua and Jakarta, and even overseas, need to fully support this central government’s initiative so that conflicts can be resolved through a dignified dialogue and without any bloodshed. But other parties must be involved as well in preparations for peaceful dialogue. In particular, non-Papuans which make up 48 percent of the population in Papua and West Papua provinces, must participate. As well, representatives from the police, the military, district and provincial governments and domestic and foreign companies benefiting from the natural resources of the provinces must also participate. The voices of all these related parties should be heard. Their opinions need to be accommodated in the preparation process of any dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. I would suggest four steps for preparations ahead of any dialogue. First, a public consultation for the indigenous people of Papua in all districts should be held in advance of talks. They should be given an opportunity to air their opinions about peace and development in their ancestral land. Additional public consultations are necessary for police, military, local government and business people. Second, two regional conferences addressing peace in Papua are needed: one for indigenous peoples and another for Papuans. Third, there should be a national conference on peace in Papua, which is organized in Jakarta and attended by all related parties. The results of previous consultations can be presented in this national conference, during which the agenda for the Jakarta-Papua dialogue can be drafted. Fourth, a conference of Papua for the Free Papua Movement demanding freedom from West Papua is needed. In this conference, representatives of all conflicting parties should be invited to talk about peace and welfare. This four-step preparatory plan should lead to a final step: a dialogue between representatives of the government and Papuans. All agreements raised at previous conferences can be discussed in the Jakarta-Papua dialogue. Representatives of the central government can present the result of the national conference and representatives of Papuans can deliver the result of the conference of Papua. In order to make the discussion focused, all public consultations, regional conferences, national conference, conference of Papua and the Jakarta-Papua dialogue should discuss three pivotal questions: What is the indicator of peace in Papua? What problems should be resolved for the sake of peace in Papua? What are the solutions to all identified problems? When all of this has been accomplished, all related parties will have a sense of belonging to the process of peace. They will also feel responsible for the implementation of any agreements decided when the Jakarta-Papua dialogue is held. Father Neles Tebay is the coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network and rector of Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, Papua
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