US Congress: Special Autonomy vs Independence

Hearings on the issue in Papua in the U.S. Congress which was held on September 22, 2010 was initiated by Eni FH Faleomavaega, chairman of the Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress. The hearing invited leaders of Papua as Octavianus Mote, Nicholas Messet, Henkie Rumbewas, Franzalbert Joku, some scholars such as Eben Kirksey, Pieter Drooglever and others and off course Benny Wenda was not considered as a Papuan leader due to the fact that he is only self-proclaimed leader.

They were invited to give such testimony and statements about the circumstances in Papua. These hearings grew into a new round of international discussions on the Papua issue because the U.S. Congress invited the leaders from both sides the pro-independence Papuan and the pro-special autonomy such as Nicholas Messet and Franzalbert Joku of the Independent Group Supporting the Special Autonomous Region of Papua Of Within The Republic Of Indonesia (IGSSARPRI). The U.S. Congress is doing much better approach than UK Parliament because they can get input of Papua from two sides, which will provide objective data supported by evidence that can be justified.

These hearings led to reactions from various parties such as the Dino Patti Djalal, the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States, which considers the hearing as normal thing and nothing to worry about. Moreover, hearings are only attended by 3 members of the U.S. Congress and can not be regarded as representative of the U.S. Congress as a whole.

Some of those who want the independence of Papua expect the U.S. Congress hearings on this as an entry point for pushing Papua issue into a serious discussion in the U.S. Congress, and hoped the United States could become one of the supporters of Papuan independence. But the result obtained is not in favour to them.

Joseph Yun (Assistant Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United States to Southeast Asian Affairs) said that the U.S. respect the integrity of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, supporting the implementation of special autonomy in Papua, and opposed separatism in Papua.

Robert Scher (U.S. Deputy Assistant of the Ministry of Defence for South Asia and Southeast Asia), said there has been no evidence of systematic human rights violations in Papua as alleged by some parties against Indonesia. Moreover, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega repeatedly stressed that the United States as claimed by Joseph Yun, oppose separatism and atrracted to Nicholas Messet’s explanations about the development of Papua and some progress experienced during the implementation of special autonomy.

As one of Papuan leader, Messet also requested that the U.S. Congress not to make the tension in Papua grows, on the contrary the U.S. should help by giving hope for a better Papua. “Because when something bad is happening in Papua, you stay here in a state of calm and we suffer.” Nick said.

Joseph Yun statement saying that the U.S. did not agree with separatism and fully supports the special autonomy strengthening the U.S. government’s political stance to support the Unitary Republic of Indonesia Papua. Joseph Yun and Roberts Scher is an official U.S. government representative in the hearing. The testimony presented by them is the U.S. political stance in viewing the issue of Papua. U.S. appreciates Indonesia as an important cooperation partner in Southeast Asia. Economic cooperation, political, educational and even safety (marked by the removal of the embargo defense equipment and the opening of U.S. military cooperation with TNI) is currently experiencing significant increases.

The U.S. government may see that the problem is an internal problem of Indonesian Papua, and the U.S. also saw progress made through the Papua Special Autonomy in force since 2001, so the US Government believes that the special autonomy for Papua is the best solution.


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