- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

JAYAPURA, Indonesia — Stone steps hacked into the hill follow a narrow pipe up to houses of salvaged wood and metal. The water pipe has given its name to this neighborhood, Kampung Pipa, but its flow is uncertain, and not much of anything else has ever poured into this settlement of poor Papuans clinging to a lush hill above the provincial capital, Irian Jaya.

"There´s never any money that stays here," Sera Badi, the barefoot headman of Kampung Pipa, said during a break from an afternoon card game.

Like Irian Jaya itself, Kampung Pipa is waiting to see some benefit from 38 years of Indonesian rule and exploitation of the vast province´s mining, forestry and fishing resources. Most revenue has flown to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, eight hours away by plane.

Now, in what many see as a last chance to prevent frustration from reaching dangerous levels, Papuan intellectuals think they have the solution. Their plan for "special autonomy" calls for a type of affirmative action to improve the welfare of native Papuans, as the locals call themselves.

Self-rule as solution

In a dramatic break from the government structure centralized in Jakarta, autonomy would grant extensive new authority to the province, similar to the U.S. division of powers between the federal government and the states.

Autonomy advocates say their plan could act as a model for other rebellious parts of the archipelago such as Aceh province, where people die every day in battles between separatist guerrillas and government security forces.

"We think it is the way to help the unity of this country," said the Rev. Herman Saud, 53, chairman of Irian Jaya´s Evangelical Christian Church. Catholic and Protestant religion, mixed with traditional spiritual beliefs, plays a big role in the lives of people here.

"There is no other alternative (to power sharing). There is no other way," said Frans Wospakrik, rector of the University of Cenderawasih in Jayapura. Mr. Wospakrik, 51, belongs to a team of lecturers, nongovernmental organizations and church representatives, led by the provincial governor, who prepared the autonomy plan.

Deadline moved to July

Their bill is being discussed by the House of Representatives in Jakarta. Mr. Wospakrik said Jakarta — after failing to meet a May 1 deadline for introducing autonomy — has set July as its new target. "If it goes beyond that, it means that we fail and it will create a very serious problem here in Irian Jaya," the rector said. "People don´t want to hear promises anymore."

Irian Jaya is home to about 2 million people, but not all are native Papuans, the dark-skinned Melanesians who have more in common with their neighbors in Papua New Guinea, the eastern part of their island.

Former President Suharto encouraged Indonesians from more crowded islands to move to Irian Jaya, where they received land taken from Papuans. The migrants now number an estimated 500,000. They are generally Muslim, lighter-skinned ethnic Malays who have dominated commerce, government, the military and police.

'Black, dirty; white, good´

"Black is dirty. White is good. This is already in their head," said the Rev. Jack Mote, a Papuan and the Roman Catholic priest in Kampung Pipa. "If they can´t accept us as Indonesians, let us be free."

In a secret report submitted to Indonesia´s attorney general on May 17, Indonesian human-rights investigators found that police in Jayapura executed one man and committed widespread torture that led to two more deaths after raids on Dec. 7.

The raids followed what police said was a pro-independence attack on a police station that left two officers dead.

Among its findings, the human-rights report said some of the more than 100 people detained were subjected to racist abuse such as: "You … sleep and wake up with pigs, so you have a brain like a pig. You´re all stupid. If you ate sheep you´d be smart like people from Java, Makassar, Jakarta."

To counter attitudes like this, the autonomy bill proposes the formation of a Papuan police force responsible to the governor. Papuan police would coordinate with, but no longer be controlled by, the Indonesian national police.

Key autonomy proposals

Among other key proposals in the autonomy draft:

• All tax and non-tax revenue originating in the province belongs to Papua, but a maximum of 20 percent will be returned to Jakarta.

• In addition to a provincial legislature for political party members, a Papuan People´s Assembly of ethnic Papuans will safeguard religious, women´s and traditional tribal interests.

• The government has an obligation to respect and support Papuan culture and, in economic development, to give as much opportunity as possible to indigenous peoples.

• Compensation should be paid to victims of human-rights violations that occurred after Irian Jaya´s de facto incorporation into Indonesia on May 1, 1963. A commission must be created to examine the incorporation, which was formalized by a U.N.-supervised 1969 vote widely viewed as a sham.

• If autonomy is not effective after five years, an East Timor-style referendum should be held.

Villagers fear sellout

Ideas like this are greeted with suspicion in Kampung Pipa, where people accuse Rector Wospakrik of being paid off by the Indonesians.

"Already for 38 years we´ve suffered, so we all want to be free," said Kansius Madai, a middle-aged man who said he was imprisoned for nine days in December amid a clampdown on independence sentiment.

Months earlier, government intelligence agents had entered the kampong, or village, and accused residents of supporting separatism. In the December crackdown, the Papuan Morning Star flag was banned and a pro-independence neighborhood security force, Satgas Papua, was forbidden.

"Many of us had entered the Satgas," said Mr. Badi, the neighborhood boss, as the sweet voices of local children sang at a nearby house. A Catholic nun, Sister Innocentia, and a local college student, Mariana Mary Pekei, organize the twice-weekly sessions of Christian singing and lessons in life.

"Help your old folks," Sister Innocentia told the children, some with runny noses and skin irritations. This is about the only education and care many Papuan youngsters get. Kampung Pipa has no real school. Few homes have television. Most mothers work from dawn until dusk selling vegetables in the city market.

Father Mote, the priest, said drinking, gambling and health problems add further hardship for the people here, most of whom favor independence.

But independence is just not realistic, said Budi Setyanto, 42, whose coalition of nongovernmental organizations, Foker, laid the foundation for the special autonomy proposal through workshops and focus groups.

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