Manokwari, NAWACITA- West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan awaits President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi’s) readiness to meet provincial local leaders of various ethnic groups to listen and comprehend their aspirations following the recent Surabaya incident that infuriated native Papuans.
Conversing with journalists in Manokwari on Thursday (Sept 12), Mandacan said he had held a series of meetings with communities from various ethnic groups in West Papua and had gained a broader understanding of their collective aspirations over the alleged racist slurs against Papuan students in Surabaya and recent rioting that broke out in the province.
The collective aspirations of the ethnic groups and communal organizations in West Papua expressed and recorded during the meetings have been submitted to the central government by maintaining their originality. Currently, he awaits President Jokowi’s readiness to discuss the people’s aspirations, he explained.
Known as the Arfak ethnic group leader, Mandacan said the incumbent president is expected to comprehensively respond to the people’s collective aspirations.
Responding to the query on President Jokowi’s meeting with 61 figures of Papua and West Papua at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday (Sept 10), Mandacan admitted to being unaware of it, since as a governor and leader of the Arfak ethnic group, he was certain of not having issued any recommendation and insightful inputs on the nine aspirations that the meeting’s participants had expressed.
Mandacan revealed that he came to know of the recent meeting after watching a TV news bulletin and claimed to not know the figures partaking in the meeting with the president.
“I do not know the number of those representing West Papua and Papua. Speaking about leaders of customary communities and ethnic groups, I am also an ethnic group leader. I became aware of the meeting after watching TV,” he noted.
The 61 figures present at the meeting with President Jokowi did not represent the entire community members, both native and non-native Papuans, in West Papua, he pointed out.
He deplored the recent meeting but supported President Jokowi’s plan as a follow-up of the nine aspirations voiced at the State Palace’s meeting.
Mandacan clarified that West Papua’s present situation has been secure, and the people, at large, are urged to keep it conducive. Moreover, internet access has been restored.
However, he appealed to all Internet users to not misuse the contents of their social media platforms for fuelling anger.
“Do not quarrel among one another, as it will make us all suffer,” he stated.
Papua and West Papua have come under the spotlight of the Indonesian and international mainstream media after a circle of violent protests erupted there in the aftermath of the Surabaya incident that had triggered public ire among native Papuans.
On August 19, several thousand people in Manokwari, West Papua Province, and Jayapura, Papua Province, had staged protests to voice their discontent over alleged racist action against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang, East Java.
During the rally in Manokwari, a local parliamentary building was set on fire. The demonstrators also torched tires in several parts of the city and main streets.
As a reaction to the Surabaya incident, on August 22, leaders of several ethnic community-based organizations had held a meeting in Biak Numfor District. They deplored the incident that had triggered public ire, expressing their complete rejection of all forms of racism and intolerance against indigenous Papuans.
The violent protests continued unabated. On August 28, violence had also erupted in Deiyai District, some 500 kilometers away from Jayapura, claiming the lives of an army soldier and two civilians.
On August 29, indigenous residents of Jayapura had again staged protests, with ire erupting over the alleged racist behavior against their compatriots in Surabaya, but their rally then turned violent.