Jakarta. The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, or IPAC, called out the Indonesian government’s "policy miscalculations" on Papua, pointing to its failures in addressing past human rights violations and dysfunctional local elections.
This is despite the current administration’s focus on economic development and conflict resolution in the poorest province in Indonesia.
"The basic conclusion is that there are so many actors with so many interests in Papua that any kind of policy coherence remains a distant dream," Sidney Jones, IPAC director, said in a statement.
Many of the government's policies on Papua, according to the report, were based on the assumption that economic interventions alone can address deep political grievances in the province.
The report found that independence movement in Papua has grown more active, in spite of the government’s efforts to reduce the independence fighters' influence.
"Higher levels of income and education do not automatically mean greater loyalty to the Indonesian state," the report, released last week, said.
Although the government under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had understood it has to pay more attention to human rights issues to ensure the success of its policies in Papua, IPAC noted that senior staff underestimated "how complex and politicized the problem had become or how trivial some of its initiatives given the magnitude of what Papua had suffered in the past."
Outstanding human rights cases remain unsolved and little progress has been made since Jokowi set out to fulfill his promises to Papua as president, revealing another policy miscalculation that initially thought "addressing human rights in Papua would be relatively easy."
Papua suffers not only from past human rights violations, but ongoing issues of torture, excessive use of force, lack of accountability and restrictions on civil liberties, the report said.
At the 27th session of the United Nations Universal Periodic (UPR) Review in Geneva, Switzerland, in May, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the government is committed to resolve allegations of human rights abuses in Wamena, Wasior and Paniai in Papua after several countries voiced their concerns at the meeting.
In 2016, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said it had begun an investigation into a shooting incident in Paniai in Dec. 2014 that killed five civilians.
In 2003, Papua independence activists allegedly attacked a District Military Command (Kodim) in Wamena, which was swiftly followed by torture, murder and the burning of civilians' houses allegedly perpetrated by military officers in retaliation.
In June 2001, the killing of five Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers in Wasior led to the torture and murder of civilians that was allegedly committed by the police and the military.
In its report, IPAC recommended the government "force the Attorney-General’s Office and Komnas HAM to work together" in cases of human rights abuses.
IPAC also highlighted the need for accurate statistics, which it argues will help solve the issue of fraudulent local elections.
"One critical step the Jokowi administration could take that could simultaneously help clean up Papua, reduce corruption and serve development goals would be to get an accurate head count of Papuans, including their places of origin," the report said.
In order to achieve this, IPAC recommended the appointment of a professional task force that is fully funded and free from political influence to undertake a special census, both in Papua and West Papua, and tasked to produce recommendations on "how to address inflated statistics and swollen voter rolls."