Why are Papuans angry at migrants?

Natalius Pigai Commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights 2012-2017

 IO – I write this article based on the reality faced by the people of Papua for 57 years. I was born in a remote place in the interior of Papua, a center of war and conflict. Eventually, I became an activist in the struggle for civil rights and reached the peak of my career as a commissioner of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, from 2012-2017. Today I am still active as a humanitarian activist. Since I was a child, I have seen, monitored, listened to and recorded all the contents that were related directly to the people of Papua, as well as stories from no less than 15 regents / former regents and officials still active, and also based on the results of investigations and monitoring. I write this as a professional investigator, one who has handled no less than 15 thousand cases in Indonesia. 

This paper is my contribution to the common good and improvement (bonum commune). 57 Years of Papua living in misery, hundreds of thousands of Papuans were arrested, tortured, slaughtered and killed based on racial hatred of the black Papuan people and their curly hair. Words that express verbal violence, such as “monkeys”, “apes” and “gorillas” have long been directed at Papuans. 

Perpetrators are not only ordinary Malay people but also state officials, both in Papua and outside. More and more newcomers are behaving as racists, with an apartheid attitude toward the people of Papua. Today they showcase the racial and apartheid behavior, xenophobia and anti-Semitism which has arisen over the past century in Africa, America, and Europe. Today, Indonesia is the only country on earth that has allowed racism to be expressed openly, not only among the civilian population but also in Government, especially aimed at the Melanesian-Papuans. 

Even more ironic is that Government of Indonesia intelligence operatives, military personnel and police collaborate with migrants as partners to smooth the politics of occupation in Papua, to collect information and even actually to form militias to hack and kill civilians in Papua. Intentionally or not, the officers herd migrants, who were once innocent civilians, to try their luck in the land of Papua as a militia group. That is the trigger for the acute hatred of the people of Papua against migrants. So when Papuans are angry and commit violence against migrants, why are the Indonesian people not angry at the Indonesian military and police officers that back migrants and innocent civilians to play in the embers of Papua, which is indeed a conflict zone? Are we aware that in Wamena, the city center and in other areas HIV / AIDS infections are rapidly spreading, threatening the extinction of the Melanesian-Papuans, not because Malay women commercial sex colonizers sell themselves in “lokalisasi”, but because there is no localization, yet they make small huts and migrant restaurants, in “what do you want to eat, raw or cooked meat?” Raw meat means sex, cooked meat means food. That is the illustration if a native Papuan eats. And that was done openly in the center of the city; the authorities also witnessed it without going to prevent or even curb it. We have never witnessed an operation to curb social pathology or the imposition of justice. 

When there were protests by Papuans in urban centers, the authorities often searched Papuans in migrant houses or kiosks and migrant restaurants, even firing rounds towards Papuans. Too many Papuans have died because of this pattern. This method is witnessed by the Papuans because Papua is a small town brightly lit. 

All of this is recorded in the memory of the suffering Papuan people. Oral speech is spread throughout Papuan society and these modes are widely known. Once again not “migrants” but “migrants led by officials”, inevitably “obedient” to participate in the wishes of the state in the name of integration in conflict areas. 

But one of the forms of behaviors that are not beautifully exhibited by migrants is when they engage in conflict with Papuans, migrants always ask for violent defense or take cover behind the barrels of weapons; they do not follow legal channels, I have never found a migrant who sought justice in court against the Papuan people fairly. 

Papuans are herded into Togel gambling games everywhere in the cities; they have no more savings for their families because they have lost all playing Togel. While Indonesia has firmly banned gambling, it is still rampant in Papua. The migrants, the Togel bandars, are surrounded by crooked officials. Selling liquor is managed by migrants and protected by officials. There are even spirits whose alcohol content reaches 40 percent distributed specifically for Papuans. 

Do we ever read in the controlled Indonesian press that illegal mining areas are controlled by migrants, backed by authorities, selling liquor, narcotics and even operating centers of prostitution in places such as Degeuwo, Tembagapura and Mamberamo? Residents pay gold pieces for liquor or prostitution under pressure and at gunpoint. 

The authorities are backing migrant control of three main sources of Papuan ownership: 

1) Seizing natural resources through illegal mining, fishing, and destructive illegal logging. 

2) Seizing the economic resources of Papuans in all urban centers, where the distribution of goods and services is all controlled by migrants, and economic resources are controlled. Stalls, markets and even public transportation and motorcycle taxis are controlled by migrants. Papuans may only work as vegetable sellers on their porch or by the roadside. Even then, the mamas are nimble, as women are everywhere they dared to struggle to make a living and provide enough education for their children. As is common around the world, mothers are more militant; Papuan men are locked in to compete; otherwise they cannot make ends meet. 

3). Depriving the people of Papua of their political rights; deprivation today has penetrated the world of bureaucracy and politics. Newcomers are too hungry for power, they want to be regents, deputies, people’s representatives utilizing bribery, scattering money here, scattering money there; today’s elections are almost all controlled by migrants. There are regencies whose members of the house of representatives are almost 100% migrants, there are regencies where a single family has 7 members in the House of Representatives. The police also marginalize Papuans when recruiting. Recruitment is rife with corruption, collusion, and nepotism. 

Recruitment of civil servants in Papua often witnesses the arrival of migrants’ relatives who were born, grew up and went to schools in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi; they were called to take employment tests in Papua, and with a bribe they are able to pass. There was also a graduate of agriculture test who “passed a test” as a medical doctor and was accepted and placed in a clinic (puskesmas). This took place in Intan Jaya Regency. This is one mode of stealing the land of Papuan by migrants. 

If the 3 main sources of life for Papuans are controlled, is there any hope of life for Papuans? The future is certainly bleak. There is no hope of making a decent living in their own homeland. 

Do you know that the regional heads and officials in Papua are held hostage by contractors and their subordinates, who are mostly migrants? The contractors use state officials to smooth the project, even disburse money before a project gets off the ground. The Regent is almost certain to be held hostage by the head of services with large budgets such as Public Works and Finance, and has to knuckle under to the Police and local legal authorities. 

Throughout Papua, the Auditor of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) came or was visited by local officials to bribe the BPK official to issue a letter certifying “completed the audit”; once again the letter certified BPK had “completed the audit” even though they had never done the work. As a result, all the people of Papua are surprised why almost all districts in Papua each year can get the title WTP (Fair Without Exception), robbing public money in large amounts without any obvious infrastructure development. 

If I may be honest “telling it as it is”, then hospitals in Papua have been labeled as “places of death” not human nurseries, not places of life, especially government hospitals, including those of the Police, and now Papuans have begun to suspect private hospitals, even though they belong to the church. Papuans are very afraid to go to the hospital; they prefer natural remedies. The hospital has long been suspected by Papuans as a place for ethnic Papuan cleansing; on average young mothers who have been hospitalized during pregnancy or after childbirth cannot give birth; some mothers are injected with contraceptives without their husbands’ or their consent (or maybe “recommended” when experiencing pain during childbirth). So today many average young mothers cannot give birth. 

Indeed, the average physical appearance of the hospital buildings and interior is quite “rotten”: even when I checked at firsthand the water of faucets in the number one hospital in Papua, there had been no running water for a week. Even though water is vital, the water of life – without water humans must die, especially in hospitals. Indeed, in this world, medical personnel and medics are special / they are God’s representatives in the world, but for Papua, the assessment is different. It is an old saga. One indicator of the threat to Papuans in particular is the increasing ratio of maternal and child mortality, because until this moment there are no maternal and child hospitals throughout Papua. In contrast to outside Papua, each district has a maternal and children’s hospital – or even more than one. 

Not only hospitals: Papuans today have lost respect for religious leaders, priests – especially Kiai – they have long lost the prophetic voice in the land of Papua Melanesia. The church becomes an instrument of authority, a tool of the mysterious clique. Add God who defends the Papuans dies suddenly in the interior, facing a gun barrel. In remote areas of the island, they often sell expired items: biscuits, sardines, noodles, etc. People do not understand because they are uneducated and, as a result, many people get sick from food poisoning and even die. 

One of the crimes of migrants in Papua is that they force Papuans to convert to Islam. Many modes have been found. In Wamena, an officer herded a village under gunpoint and took some students to convert to a religion that is not a religion. In several areas, migrants take children with the argument of being foster parents or educating them, to be sent to some Islamic boarding schools and become converts. 

There is no law in Papua, no justice before the law for Papuans. Justice only applies to those who are migrants. Unless Papuans pay a “bribe” to a judge. Papuans who are young and quick can get a court decision and a copy of the decision in a matter of days, while poor Papuans find it difficult to get justice. Nearly 58 years the court has sentenced non-Papuans or police officers; I have never seen and read one document of a policeman being jailed for torturing and killing (Extra Judicial Killings). 

All the groans, laments, the sadness of the Papuans are silenced in the hearts of the people of Papua. The Papuan people have no room for expression; the mass media is silenced or weaponized as a propaganda tool for the authorities and migrants. Civil society organizations and political parties as instruments of articulation of the interests of the people of Papua are silenced, freedom of expression is limited. As a result, what happened today was the explosion of the tip of the iceberg that had stayed frozen for so long. That is what is not understood by the state and the people of Indonesia. The Nation (Inter-Ethnic and Religious National Leaders) should find a solution to the problems of Papua in a dignified and more progressive manner, not in favor of military repression in Papua. If you ask for a military operation, then you don’t need to ask again, because 58 years of military operations have taken place, the people of Papua are living every day under threat in their bloody land. 

I have to be honest to say that we are two different races namely the Melanesian Negro Race and the Malay Mongoloid Race. Like Oil and Water, they will never be able to unite unless racism, Papuan phobia, and discrimination are eliminated from this country and it seems impossible because discrimination in this country is already too acute.