TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, slammed the approaches taken by the country’s elites to Papua, including President Joko Widodo or Jokowi. Benny said the President did not solve the major problem in the province despite his frequent visits and the people’s sympathy.
According to Benny, the military presence in the region did not represent Jokowi’s stance. “No Indonesian President has understood Papua's problems like Gus Dur,” said Benny as quoted from Tempo Magazine edition of September 2-8, 2019.
Two months and ten days after inaugurated, the fourth Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur changed the province’s name from Irian Jaya to Papua.
The initial name meant naked in the Arabic language as Arabian people who came to the island discovered natives were unclothed.
Besides, Gus Dur allowed Bintang Kejora or morning star flag to be raised so long it is under the Indonesian flag. “No one used the name of Papua. Only Gus Dur dared to stand up for Papua. He also considers Bintang Kejora as our cultural symbol,” said Benny.
He said that such a humanist approach is necessary for Papuan, rather than a development project which is under military monitoring. With those several criticisms, Benny added, he will continue to lobby international forums to support the referendum agenda.
Indonesia as the United Nations Security Council non-permanent member, he went on, must learn from neighboring countries. For example, France that gave New Caledonia a chance to hold a referendum or Great Britain, which held a referendum [to decide] on whether to leave the European Union.
“The Papuan nation must be given the chance to choose,” Benny Wenda remarked.