President pleads for end to Papuan riots

President Jokowi arrives in the Arfak Mountains, Papua. (photo: Doc. SETNEG)

IO, Wamena – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated that the first region that he intends to visit after his second inauguration is Papua. Jokowi hopes that his message will be understood and accepted by the people and leading figures of Papua: “I only want to show which region was the first one that I visited after my inauguration – Papua. The message I am sending should be clear. What message may it be? It is very clear, there is no need for me to explain,” Jokowi said in a meeting with community figures of Papua in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, on Monday (28/10/2019).

Jokowi traveled to Wamena after the recent riots. He stated that riots have also occurred in other regions: “What I saw happening in Wamena, I have seen it too in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Maluku, and even in my own hometown of Solo. The City Hall was burned down, the Regional House of Representatives was burned down, and even malls were attacked. I saw these, I experienced it myself,” he said.

Jokowi hopes that conditions in Wamena can be honestly stabilized. He ordered Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister of General Works and Public Housing, and his echelons to immediately repair damaged buildings, such as markets, the Regent’s office, or inhabitants’ residences. “We all want everything in Wamena to return to normal, in physical, psychological, and political terms. I believe that what I have just said will spur us on to resolve our problems as quickly as possible,” he said.

Following the recent riots, Jokowi made a visit as soon as he could, ordering his staff to get damaged buildings and facilities repaired. “For homes and shophouses, I have ordered the Minister of Public Works and People’s Housing to complete repairs as quickly as possible and get rid of all evidence of fire and destruction from Wamena, in order to help get rid of the psychological scars of the people, by ridding the physical reminders of the incident,” he said. “The second phase is to gradually recover our trust that Pegunungan Tengah, Wamena town, is a safe town. I have visited here four times and enjoyed the hospitality of its friendly citizens. They are part of us: when something happens, it is our duty to resolve it together with them.”

One of the sites visited by the President in Wamena is Wouma Market, which is still partially damaged. Workers and soldiers are striving together to rehabilitate this central market. When he finished inspecting the market, Jokowi stated that he set a target for the completion and return to operation in two weeks. He stated that Wouma Market is a priority site for recovery, as it is central to the economic activity of the people. “Wouma Market is the market where the people of Wamena and surrounding areas sell their produce, whether fruit, vegetables, or other necessary daily logistics. This is why prioritize it,” Jokowi said.

The President further pleads that riots should not be repeated on Papuan soil, including Wamena. He asks that community figures and local citizens cooperate to maintain a calm situation. “I really request that we all seriously protect our security together. We don’t want any more incidents. However, we can be committed that with this empirical experience, we must prevent it from happening again. We all stand to lose everything here, whether our economy, psychological condition, our political stability, everything,” he said.

Jokowi then stated that both the Army and the Police are ready to ensure that Wamena remains safe and secure. He only hopes that the people can return to their daily activities and restore the economy rapidly. “The Army and the Police are ready to ensure security and return the wheels of the economy to its normal condition. This country, this Indonesia, is a big country. If there are any issues, any problems, we need to resolve them together. What matters is that whatever the problem may be, we need to work together and resolve it,” he said.

From Wamena, President Joko Widodo and his entourage continued their journey to Jayapura City in order to inaugurate the use of Youtefa Bridge on Monday (28/10/2019). The name “Youtefa” was set according to the request of local tribal community, from the name of the Youtefa Bay under it. The length of the bridge, formerly called Holtekam Bridge is 732 meters. It connects Jayapura City with Muara Tami District. The construction of Youtefa Bridge started on 9 May 2015, with Jokowi himself placing the first foundation stone. The construction cost IDR 1.8 trillion. “I am glad that we can inaugurate Youtefa Bridge right during the Youth Pledge Day,” the President said.

Jokowi, who has visited Papua 13 times, reminded everyone that the Bridge is a historical landmark in Papua and that everyone should look after it together. (des)