Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - Law and order have been restored by the Indonesian police in Jayapura, Papua, and Manokwari, West Papua Province after violent protests erupted in the two cities and several other towns in both provinces.

However, now, the regional and central governments face the challenge of an exodus of native Papuan students currently studying in various reputable universities outside Papua and West Papua. Indonesia's media and authorities are focusing on the exodus because it occurred despite the guarantees by every provincial police chief for the safety and security of all native Papuan students currently studying outside their hometowns.

A majority of the returnees were previously studying in Manado, North Sulawesi Province, according to Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf Rodja.

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Rodja regretted the decisions of the returnees, saying that the national police chief had ordered all regional police chiefs to guarantee the safety of the students so that they could direct their undivided attention to completing their studies.

Speaking to journalists after meeting with rectors of the University of Cenderawasih (Uncen) and Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) on September 9, Rodja said their decisions to return home before completing their studies would affect their future.

Instead, the returnees should have prevented themselves from falling victim to the elites or certain vested interests.

After returning home, they would find it difficult to continue with their studies at local universities. He suggested to their colleagues who are still in various Indonesian cities that they continue with their studies.

They need not fear their routine activities as their safety and security has been guaranteed by all regional police chiefs, he said.

In response to the exodus of some 700 native Papuan students, the central government has encouraged them to return to the cities or towns where they are studying.

The Indonesian military commander has even kept on standby two units of Hercules C-130 aircraft for transporting the returnees from Papua and West Papua to the provinces where they are studying.

The exodus has stopped, and the government is keen to send them back to their universities, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto.

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Educating the indigenous Papuan students at various prestigious universities outside their homeland is important because they will receive good quality higher education and make friends with their peers from different socio-cultural backgrounds.

By mingling with their colleagues from diverse religious, ethnical, linguistic, and socio-cultural backgrounds, the seeds of Indonesian nationalism and a sense of unity in diversity as one Indonesia will get grown strong inside their hearts and minds.

The government has pledged to ensure their safety and security by ordering the military and police personnel to support foster care for Papuan students, Wiranto said. "This is an effective way of making them feel secure because it is like a kin relationship."

Wiranto also suggested ending the system of exclusive student dormitories. Thus, students from West Kalimantan, West Sumatra, and Papua, for instance, would stay in the same dormitory co-funded by three governors.

"We propose that the home minister coordinates with the related governors to ensure this in the future," he said.

Violence erupted in several parts of Papua and West Papua in the aftermath of the alleged racist slurs against the Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, on August 16 that had triggered public ire among native Papuans.

On August 29, the indigenous Papuan residents of Jayapura staged a violent protest which ended with several buildings and vehicles being torched.

In preventing the recurrence of such these violent rallies in the future, the police have deployed more mobile brigade personnel to Papua and West Papua.

At the same time, the police have also guaranteed the safety and security of all Papuan students studying outside the two provinces.

On Tuesday evening, for instance, Maluku Police Chief Inspector General Royke Lumowa held a function at his residence by inviting some 100 students native to Papua and West Papua and presently studying at Maluku’s several universities.

On the occasion, he dined with the students and encouraged them to channel their efforts into ensuring timely completion of their studies and assured them that the police and military institutions would guarantee their safety and security.

Speaking in connection with the pledge by the authorities to offer a security guarantee, Chairman of the Papuan and West Papuan Student Association Erwin Abisay admitted to feeling a sense of security and safety during his stay in Ambon.

"We thank the Maluku police chief and his men for inviting us to join the gathering and for safeguarding us," Abisay stated.

The native Papuan students who are currently struggling to complete their studies should be supported because they are indeed the future leaders who will build a better Papua and West Papua within Indonesia.

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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