Papua peace is not just about iron fists, carrots and sticks

Indonesian government must talk to opponents and dispense justice fairly if peace efforts are to work
Papua peace is not just about iron fists, carrots and sticks

Protesters take to the streets to face off with Indonesian police in Manokwari, Papua, on Aug. 19, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Just a few hours before Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, the apostolic administrator of Merauke Archdiocese in Papua, issued a New Year's Day call for the military and police to abandon heavy-handed methods in dealing with indigenous Papuans, shots rang out.

No one was reported hurt in the New Year's Eve clash between Indonesian police and several armed separatists in Mimika Regency’s Tembagapura district, not far from where giant mining company Freeport operates.

However, the bishop's call for dialogue and peaceful solutions to Papua’s problems was not exactly because of that clash.

Bishop Mandagi's call had more to do with last year's wave of violence committed by Papuans angered by discriminatory abuses such as the arrest of 40 Papuan students in Surabaya in East Java province. For allegedly vandalizing an Indonesian national flag.

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