The separatist group’s efforts in mobilizing mainstream support loyalist and independence parties to define the future of West Papua beyond the referendum had found a dead-end.
It’s time for separatist groups to stop hiding behind the status of an independent Papuan political institution. Just like other separatist groups in general, their independence campaigns are often driven by ethnic, language and economic divisions.
Previously, UMLWP (United Movement of Liberation for West Papua) along with Vanuatu has actively mobilized support from other Asia Pacific countries to bring the issue of West Papua to the United Nation (UN) in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) session.
There are several things that strengthen Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua, including:
First, ethnic issues. The separatist groups always put ethnicity as the main reason of their movement. This happened because many considered Melanesian as a different ethnicity from the rest of Indonesian. However, facts said that Indonesian have about 300 ethnic groups and 1,340 tribes. Indonesia will never be one big ethnic group because Indonesia is an archipelago consisting of 16,056 islands; Papua & West Papua are also a part of this archipelago.
Based on the latest census, the population in West Papua reached 893,362 people (2016) and Papua reached 3.2 million people (2016). Transmigration that occurs between regions in Indonesia cannot be avoided so that other ethnic groups have mingled with Melanesians. Moreover, Melanesian is not only found in West Papua, but in three other provinces in Indonesia: East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and North Maluku.
This dynamic certainly leaves a question mark, which voices of the Papuans this separatist group are actually fighting for?
Second, the economic situation of Papua & West Papua that still relies on Indonesia. Papua’s natural resource management is not as simple as what the separatist group advocates, there are various elements that needs to be considered including: human resources, capital, technology, access to markets, and other aspects. There are also state efforts that may not be seen and cannot be seen directly such as increasing participation of local and indigenous communities, improving the quality of education and health infrastructure, as well as infrastructure development in the natural resources area so that the elements of natural resource management are more effective each year.
The separatist group made the political situation unstable with various provocations that could cause Papua’s economy to decline. Moreover, provincial funding still depends also on the central government through APBN (Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Negara or State Budget) and Special Autonomy Funds.
The existence of ULMWP Indonesia cannot be considered mediocre. Indeed, the country of Indonesia is a democratic country but that does not mean that this country must be silent when there are groups of people who are trying to destroy the unity of their country. If we talk about ethnic differences, language differences, and economic inequality, it will never end.
What caused 16,056 islands to become Indonesia? There is only one answer for this and that because this nation unites itself and strengthens its nationalism based on the five basic principles of Pancasila as its ideology: the Belief in One and Only God, a Just and Civilized Humanity, a Unified Indonesia, Democracy Led by the Wisdom of the Representatives of the People, and Social Justice for all Indonesians.