Tantowi Yahya & International Relations expert say the Pacific is key to resolving separatism issue in Papua

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UNAIR NEWS – The issue of separatism in Papua has long been a political focus in Indonesia. The issue is in fact not only limited to domestic issues, but also regional issues closely related to the Pacific. Therefore, the Indonesian Ambassador for the Pacific Tantowi Yahya and Dra. Baiq Wardhani, MA Ph.D agreed to view that the poor image of Indonesia in the eyes of the Pacific as well as the magnitude of the historical and cultural relations of the two regions became the thing that pushed many Pacific countries to support Papua to leave Indonesia.

“In Eastern Indonesia, there are 5 of our provinces that are geographically located in the Pacific. Meanwhile, from the demographic side they are an inseparable part of the Melanesian people who inhabit the Pacific. These similarities create a feeling of closeness between Papua and the Pacific. ” said Tantowi during a discussion, Rebonding with Our Pacific Neighbors, initiated by the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington with UNAIR and Universitas Pertahanan.

So far, the Pacific countries have always been the closest alliance of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) to gain support. Meanwhile, the poor image of Indonesia to the Pacific according to Dr. Baiq Wardhani as a lecturer of HI UNAIR is based on two things.

“Indonesia has a bad experience with East Timor, then the conflict and the problem of inequality in Papua. In addition, Indonesia is considered an aggressive country. Indonesia’s diversity is very high, but declares itself to be a nation-state. They do not understand and believe the nation-state can be built in a country that is so pluralist like Indonesia, “he said.

On the other hand, Tantowi said that Pacific support for an independent Papua was their right. Although, it is wrong in the eyes of international law because it tries to interfere in the affairs of other countries.

“We have an on going issue with Vanuatu. The country has become one of the most consistent countries supporting Papuan independence both regionally and internationally. The Solomon Islands and Tuvalu had also supported, but now the tensions have subsided, “he said.

As of now, there is a gap when Vanuatu has experienced a change of power. Vanuatu’s supreme leader is not very vocal in supporting Papuans. So it must be used well by Indonesia to build understanding and good faith regarding the issue of Papua in the Pacific.

Tantowi also stressed that the resolution on Free Papua is closely related to parliamentary actions in the Pacific region which often raise and support the issue. Therefore, it would be more effective and be a solution if the Indonesian parliament also issued a statement on it.

“I invite representatives of our people to make more visits to the Pacific than to Europe, Asia. A visit to the Pacific has a very important meaning to overcome the problem of Papua, “he said.

Dra. Baiq emphasized that the government must now also develop Papua and be able to promote Papua appropriately. Dra. Baiq was so appreciative of Joko Widodo’s administration’s steps to prioritize development in the ‘border’ areas of Indonesia. Tantowi, on the other hand, also appealed to the government to improve tourism connectivity.

The promotion of Ambon as a city of music and Papua as a center for marine tourism will always be an attraction for the Pacific community. So that the closeness and understanding will be formed between the two regions.

“Don’t let us sleep in the same room but have different dreams. It means, all communities, stakeholders must be of one mind, one agreement, and one movement for the problem of Papua. Indonesia has given great commitment and attention now to Papua, ” she concluded.


Author: Intang Arifia
Editor: Feri Fenoria

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