Benny Suweni: Special Autonomy has protected Papuan

Benny Suweni
Benny Suweni

From a webinar host by Kompas TV, West Papua Blog would like to share several articles regarding statements from Papuan influential figures. We received this free translation from Indonesian language from West Papua Blog contributor. If you want to share news, information or story about Papua, please send it to westpapuafree@gmail.com. The following statements is from Mr. Benny Suweni, the Chairperson of the Papua People’s Assembly – MRP Deliberation Committee and former Chair of the Papua General Election Commissions – KPU.

Benny Suweni said that racism is a view of a group or tribe that is humanly demeaning, and this has damaged the identity of Papuans. But according to him in the special autonomy constitution there is an article that has protected the identity of Papuan citizens.

According to him the Special Autonomy Constitution has protected the governors who must be native Papuans. However, the stigma of coastal and mountainous Papua still appears, and this issue is used to mobilise several parties.

Benny said that he had once conducted socialisation on this matter to prevent conflict between ethnic groups and races. He felt that in the next election, the local elections could become a corridor for candidates so that they did not touch a particular issue with racism nuance.

He also said that regional governments were sometimes being cut off by political parties. He still detected the party that would take advantage of this. For example, in coastal areas where the people are heterogeneous, politicians had to hold non-Papuans to get electability. He further explained, if the local government want to increase electability, they should not degrade other tribes.

Benny mentioned that the aim of special autonomy was to maintain the identity of Papuans to become masters in their own land. He elaborated that the Special Autonomy Law article 28 paragraphs 3 and 4 had been fought to prioritize indigenous Papuans in public office, but the government and the state did not provide an opportunity to implement the article. According to him the country has not really been truly implementing special autonomy.

On the infrastructure approach, Benny believed it is still partial and only project oriented. He discussed that the killing of 19 workers who were killed by West Papua separatist illustrates that development matters are not important to the people of Nduga.

For Benny, infrastructure development is very important for Papua, such as road access to Wamena and Asmat for the people to get affordable distribution of goods.

Regarding national sport competition (PON), he believed there are two things that can be seen as a success story; the execution of the event and achievements of Papuan team. These two things can show the existence of Papuans in organising this big event. He also hoped that young Papuan athletes can enter the top five of the PON.

In his last comment, he stated that through the special autonomy fund, thousands of Papuans had been sent outside Papua. He stressed the importance of education and employement for Papuan human resources. In addition, all of that should be in accordance with the things needed in Papua, so people are not only thinking about politics and in the end they even screaming for independence.

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This Blog has gone through many obstacles and attacks from violent Free West Papua separatist supporters and ultra nationalist Indonesian since 2007. However, it has remained throughout a time devouring thoughts of how to bring peace to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia.

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