Besides Benny Wenda, there are other well-known activist for United Liberation Movement for West Papua. This article will highlight a pastor named, Socrates Sofyan Yoman that is also known as an activist for the separatist movement in West Papua. He is actively fighting for Papuan independence through provocative speech, paper or statement in the online or offline media. He is popular in international arena because his statement often quoted by international media.
On November 8, 2004, at the anniversary ceremony of Cendrawasih University, Jayapura, he presented a paper entitled “Pepera 1969 in Non-Democratic West Papua” as a statement to support United Liberation Movement for West Papua. As a pastor, he often uses his status to preach the spirit of West Papua liberation over Indonesia. Socrates Sofyan Yoman, Tom Beanal, Thaha Alhamid, Willy Mandowen, and Terrianus Yoku have also been to the United States to lobby the US Congress and the United Nations so that the history of Papua is straightened out and a referendum is held for self-determination for the people of Papua. The objective of this article is to highlight Socrates Sofyan Yoman as one of the key person in United Liberation Movement for West Papua as well as to examine his biased, provocative and full of hatred statement over Indonesian government. It is important to learn about the key person in a separatist movement to understand his intrigues in steering public opinion, especially when he himself is a religious leader.
The Rejection for Economic Development in West Papua Province
First, we need to track down Socrates Sofyan Yoman’s political movement towards United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Based on the research we did online, he often release strong statement opposing Indonesian government for example, he opposed the Indonesian government initiative to expand the land for infrastructure because he believes that this is a political movement to get rid of West Papuan society from their own land. While the truth is, Indonesian government has put West Papua province as one of the priority to develop more infrastructure to be use for West Papuan society. While, President Joko Widodo clearly stated that the initial reason for the government to accelerate the infrastructure and economic development in the region is because Indonesian government wants to promote people’s welfare. As stated by him during his visit in 2015, “If the infrastructure is good, roads and seaports are good, then Papua’s economy will grow faster as logistics distribution for goods and people improves.”
Accusing United Liberation Movement for West Papua as Indonesian Conspiracy
Besides that, Sofyan Yoman also found spreading the news on the duality in United Liberation Movement for West Papua (OPM). He declares the statement that OPM is divided into two types. The real OPM and the creation of OPM made by Indonesian police or Polri. He strongly delivers the message the OPM made by Polri is a political movement to spread negative notion about OPM. In fact, OPM is existed since 1963 when Papua has referendum era. The existence of OPM is not without negativity. There are lots of victims fell because of their blind “struggle.” From attacking commercial airlines and non-papuan merchants to attacking members of Indonesian national armed force (TNI). These were far from the impression gained from foreign news, this separatist group is known as brutal in Indonesia.
Releasing Sensational Statement on Religion and Political Organization
“To the people and people of West Papua, we pray that the Lord will bring down curses, wrath, calamity, punishment on people who are fighting and trying to destroy the ULMWP “. It was written by Socratez Sofyan Yoman through status on Facebook, at Friday (9/14/2018). Socratez said, those who oppose the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) are evil enemies who are hanging around. According to him, they were cooperating with the devils and colonial Indonesia, then were having fun over the suffering that was being experienced by the people of Papua. Here, it is clear that he used his power as religious leader and abuse his role to influence the community. The fact that ULMWP itself is not as sacred as stated by Socratez Sofyan, ULMWP itself is nothing more than a political organization, not a religious organization.
Local Community from West Papua Province against Socrates Yoman
From several stories above, it is clear to see that Socrates Sofyan Yoman is a provocative actor in West Papua. The church community also feels uncomfortable with his presence in their religious community. One of the confession from the Jama’at Gereja Baptis Pegunungan Tengah who wants to be remained anonymous said that “We do not like the way the Pastor Socrates Sofyan Yoman claimed his leadership to the Baptist Church in Papua,” he continue, “Pastor Yoman was no longer leading the Synod of Baptist Churches, but Pastor often spoke lies in the media at home and abroad about indigenous Papuans who were said to have been threatened, tortured and killed by officials, while it was unproven. It was all lies made by Pastor Yoman for his own political movement”
Socratez Dialog Pattern: Individual Voice Become the Majority Voice
It is strange to see that a religious leader ignited social friction and supported a secessionist movement in their region. What happened in West Papua issues and Socratez movement is strange. With further examination, Socratez statement is not in accordance with the historical facts on UN ratification saying that Papua is an integral part of the Republic of Indonesia. The movement that comes from Socratez is basically an individual attitude. His attitude does not necessarily represent the voice of the Papuan people. Therefore, it is easy to see how Socratez only fight for his own agenda. Since he is able to create a dialogue strategy, we can read his movement through the dialogue pattern. Any of his movement is done only through social media, not face-to-face with adequate data and self-representation.
He builds majority opinion from lies that he builds around negative issues about what Indonesian government did to Papuans that is not even proven yet. Further, what is done by Dr. Socratez through its open letter is actually counterproductive to the peace efforts in Papua. Dr. Socratez actually worsens the situation in Papua by exacerbating the conditions that lead to continuous conflict in Papua.
Internationalization of the West Papuan Issues
One of the Papuan observer, Nico Gere said that the notion delivered by Socratez to establish a new country should not be allowed by Indonesian government. According to Nico, the vision of the Papuan people to separate from Indonesia has been resolved constitutionally through a plebiscite or referendum or self-determination. That is the people of Papua who determine themselves to integrate with Indonesia. In Indonesia, said Nico, the only Dutch colony whose getting through a plebiscite process to become Indonesia’s sovereign territory is Papua.
“The plebiscite is a form of self-determination,” Nico quoted Martin Dixon, an international law expert. The plebiscite to determine the political status of the Papua region, continued Nico, was carried out in 1969 through a mechanism known as the Determination of People’s Opinion (PEPERA). Since all of the Pepera’s results are well documented by the United Nations, Nico Gere added that what Socratez voiced through the open letter, actually only voiced the old aspirations that the settlement was final already. There was UN General Assembly Resolution No. 2504 dated November 19, 1969 which ratified the results of the plebiscite (Pepera).
Nico assessed, Socratez only copied Benny Wenda’s strategy. “The purpose of Socratez and Benny Wenda is the same. This is only part of the internationalization of the West Papua issue” said Nico. As Nico stated, the efforts made by Socratez and Benny can trigger groups of young people in Papua to carry out anarchistic actions. Socratez and Benny often issued statements that triggered defiance. Nico advised the government not to be over reactive to this unconstitutional desire. He asked the government to continue focusing on developing the land of Papua. “The government also needs to be more active in approaching figures and groups that are still opposed to being actively involved in development,” advises Nico. Thus, as a citizen, we might never know that the local leader like Socratez would possible to not just fight in the needs of other people but only using other people’s story for their own political movement. This fact did not limited to Socrates Sofyan Yoman’s cases only, but for all actors involve in separatist issues in Indonesia.