The nationalist vision of Indonesian unity, coined by Sukarno, was implied in a handwritten letter by himself, dated December 19th, 1963, which was addressed to every nationalist patriot who was there on the battlefield in the event of West Irian integration. The letter mentioned: “Let us unite in brotherhood while making West Irian a beautiful emerald across the equator inside the Indonesian archipelago.”
If we are to bow our head for a moment and contemplate of what was written by Sukarno above, it would be in order for us to admit that the complicated matter of West Irian or Papua was already concluded in his confession as a national leader, the proclamator of Republic of Indonesia, that making Papua an emerald across Indonesian equator is the resolution.
Papua must have been very precious in the heart of an Indonesian president so that his statement tied Papua in a covenant at a special place in the unity of the Republic of Indonesia.
This event was the beginning of Indonesian ebb and flow in the arena of national and international politics, struggling to defend West Irian as a part of Indonesia. In the event of protecting West Irian in the middle of the political contest against with the Dutch, inside an international forum which was hosted by the United States through Bunker Plan, hence the New York Agreement was signed by Indonesia and the Dutch to end the dispute after West Irian.
If we are about to examine it thoroughly, the whole process of power transfer towards the Republic of Indonesia over the land of West Irian, there would be questions on how was it going to fulfill the humanist principles of Sukarno, to say that the Papuans are citizens of Indonesia? How could we be sure that West Irian fulfilled the prerequisites to be a territory of a sovereign country of Indonesia, which spanned from Sabang (Aceh, far west) to Merauke (Papua, far east)? Was it appropriate to take control over such beautiful emerald? This is a priceless lesson for the future leaders of this republic in the modern era to learn, that it is essential to listen to the voice of humanity from inside our souls, an untainted voice which speaks of our identity values as sons and daughters of Indonesia, whom will always belong to our beloved motherland and her care for us.
The historical journey of the land or West Irian since the day of Trikora has long been seen as irrelevant, for Papua has been portrayed in the frame of Indonesian independence through Pepera in 1969. The highs and lows of every administration and leader in the West Irian region had neglected the importance of love towards the folks and soil of Papua, as expressed by Sukarno since Papua is indeed the Indonesian emerald. Anyone would be proud to take part in the journey of an independent Indonesia, for the love that this country has been giving will never vanish, in an evergreen journey as one whole Indonesian nation. Alas, the past of powerplay on West Irian land has left a scar of a severe crime against humanity. The wound was sliced open following Trikora, then carried on by the regime of New Order after Pepera in 1969, until the Indonesian Reformation in 1998.
Let us spend a moment, anticipating the 56th anniversary of Trikora on the land of West Irian, and let ourselves pose a question: Quo Vadis, Papua? Which direction is Papua heading for, nowadays?
A contemplation over the history presents us with a corrective, constructive idea over the past policymaking, and the unification towards visions for the future was, in the context of Trikora, an embodiment of strong national identity. To push it further, making West Irian an integral part of Indonesia as a state and nation will demand us to take full responsibility in shaping the future of Papuan people together, as a united civil society of Indonesia, actively anticipating the era of modernization and technology.
The impact of this responsibility will take place around a century after the Papuan deliverance from the Dutch colonial regime. (Now) The administration of Joko Widodo is committed to opening up isolated parts of Papua for the Papuan people to gain access and receive the benefit of development. Besides that, Joko Widodo continuously pays great attention by visiting Papua regularly without even worrying about the presidency protocol, since his heart is anchored by the love for the children of this nation, and fellow Indonesians everywhere in the world, including Papuans.
For a president to embrace and carry Papuan kids whom he met, didn’t it reflect characters of a leader who wished children of his nation to be healthy and well-off, exposed to the changes of their time, enjoying their daily lives just like other kids from other parts of Indonesia? Joko Widodo’s policy should deservingly be seen as the real act of deliverance for West Irian, where the whole West Irian society undergoes the experience of owning and being a part of Indonesia. The answer to all the pain and despair from poverty, the underdevelopment and lack of education is being delivered in policies crafted by Joko Widodo’s administration. Joko Widodo has demonstrated that it is crucial for a president to pay attention towards Papua, and it is also vital in shaping unity and harmony of the nation.
As a consequence, the incident which took place at the beginning of December 2018 greatly surprised every Indonesian, that a massacre of 17 Trans Papua project construction workers in Nduga district has happened. The shocking news triggered various reactions from the regions and the capital. The government deployed a unit to go after the assailants, who are suspected to be an armed criminal group. There is also information that the massacre of 17 workers of PT Ista Karya was by guerrilla forces of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) led by Egianus Kogoya, who replaced the late Kelly Kwalik. The wider community responded in varying ways, some condemned the massacre, but there was also some who support the adverse events for the sake of a Free Papua.
Of course all human actions whether good or bad always face risks that also lead to good or bad. If President Jokowi aims to help Papuans from underdevelopment is a humanitarian struggle that seeks to provide the human rights as other people in the modern world, is this a criminal act against the demand for independence that identically also want to fulfill human rights?
I do not know. Whoever is responsible for the massacre of 17 Trans-Papua road workers and no matter what purpose, when a person (whoever he was) was unable to defend himself from acts of violence using life-threatening tools, he will be protected by the law, and the person or party who attacks this person will still be the subject to legal consequences. In a war, whatever the actions of the enemy, the target of the bullet are to his opponent with the same status as him.
In other words, the massacre above can be categorized as a dangerous criminal act that contradicts civil rights stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and any law in all countries in the world, including the 1945 Constitution in Indonesia. Throughout the news of the killings in Papua, from 1961 to 2018, the massacre in Nduga was the first event involving the name of the Free Papua Organization. This event happened when the two fixed prices meet, and civilians become victims of unsolved requests.
Once again, the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia was challenged. Historical understanding of various conflicts in Papua must receive serious attention. The wisdom of the integration of Papua into the body of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is aimed at elevating the noble values of humanity which is like a beautiful emerald in an Indonesian belt. The purpose of Trikora is not merely the liberation of regional affairs but is the liberation of all Papuans from occupation, backwardness, poverty, ignorance to place themselves in a stratum of quality and dignified social societies.
The history of Trikora should also be feasible in government programs to change Papua following its original objectives, namely the whole of Indonesia from Merauke to Sabang. Likewise all the policies in Papua in the era of special autonomy, leaders must unite with the people to fight for a shared future. Now it seems that the leader is only capable of being funded and fund oriented, forgetting the people in his struggle. Remember, Trikora is considered to have been completed, the echo resonates, special autonomy will end soon (we can count the remaining years with our fingers), the Papuan people are still neglected, who will be held accountable if all authority has been delegated to Papuans, but the conditions remain the same? Will there be another iron fist in Papua? The status-quo of Papua will continue to be a national and international debate, while the entire system of government is still clogged and paralyzed, unable to declare itself capable of safeguarding policies for the benefit of the people.
Building Papua is the real fight. The welfare of the Papuan people is the independence itself. Whatever the purpose of the struggle; the welfare, and safety of citizens is the primary goal. Both in independent Indonesia and later on Free Papua (if ever); the priority is the Papuan people who are prosperous, safe, just, and flourishing. “Struggle never dies.”