Monday, March 12, 2007

"Tanah Papua will be more advanced than PNG"

Indonesian Papuan citizens living in Papua New Guinea and abroad for the past 40 years can now return to rebuild their homeland in western New Guinea, Logohu Award winner and PNG journalist Franz-Albert Joku told a 'West Papuan' community gathering in Erima Parish, Gordon, PNG. He had just returned to Port Moresby after negotiating with Indonesian central government and Papuan provincial government officials on the special autonomy and how West Papuans in PNG and abroad could participate.

The PNG government supports the special autonomy process in the two Indonesian provinces, Papua and Papua Barat and PNG officials will be liaising with the Indonesian government and the Papua province government to register West Papuans who fled Indonesia in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s who agree to return home.

"Mr Joku appealed to the West Papuans fighting for independence in the bushes and mountains to reach a compromise and work together under the new special autonomy process," Harlyne Joku reported in The National (Port Morsby). "He said under the special autonomy, West Papuans would have 85 per cent freedom to empower themselves on their own land. He said now, a positive pace had been set and the special autonomy process passed by the Indonesian government in October 2001 was beginning to work. Leaders were being elected in a democratic process."

Joko also appealed to educated West Papuans not be spectators of the autonomy process but make it work, adding there was freedom of speech, movement and elections. Although their fathers had demanded political independence, the Indonesian government had given special autonomy.

"Not like before when people were ruled under the barrel of a gun. If all goes as expected under special autonomy, between seven and nine years time, in development than PNG," he said.

The meeting was a first of a series of meetings in Port Moresby for the West Papuan community to discuss the special autonomy process. The next meeting is set for next month.

References to "West Papua" appear to include both Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) provinces of Indonesian New Guinea.

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