Papuan community leaders support extension of special autonomy status

Papuan community leaders support extension of special autonomy status

Tabi community leader Yanto Eluay. (ANTARA / Alfian Rumagit)

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Several Papuan community and religious leaders have appealed to the central government to extend the special autonomy status which will end in 2021 to maintain sustainable development and improve the people's welfare in Papua and West Papua Provinces.

"Thanks to the special autonomy funds, many of us can be assisted. Without the funds, our buildings remain ugly and damaged," the Yalimo community leader, Soleman Eselo, said in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, on Saturday.

Eselo said the special autonomy funds that the government has granted to Papua and West Papua Provinces for many years are so helpful for Papuans living in remote mountains to achieve their successes in various fields.

"I have been participating in educating Papuans coming from mountainous and hilly regions since 1981. Many of them have been promoted to be bureaucrats owing to availability of the special autonomy funds that has made us get assisted," he said.

Christian priest Merry Lauren Wompere, a member of the Solagratia Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Solagratia) of Arso II in Keerom District, also shared Eselo's views saying that Papua Province's development was much better during the special autonomy era.

"Representing the GKI Solagratia Jaifuri congregation, I appeal (to the government) to continue the special autonomy status for the sake of development and progress in Papua," Wompere said.

Those rejecting the special autonomy status did not represent the voice of Papuan people's conscience. "Instead, they are the enemies of the Papuan people," Wompere said.

Meanwhile, Tiombro Wenda, deputy community leader of the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range in Keerom District, also appealed to the central government to keep granting the special autonomy status to ensure sustainable development in Papua and West Papua.

"Those who disagree with the extension of the special autonomy do not represent the Papuan people's voice of conscience," Wenda said.

Regarding this special autonomy issue, a local community leader in Jayapura, Yanto Eluay, said the Tabi and Saireri community members are consolidating to support for evaluating and continuing the granting of the government's special autonomy.

"All communities in Papua must see the granting of special autonomy from the perspective of people's welfare. All traditional communities in Papua are urged to support for what the government will do and decide for the sake of the people's welfare," he said.

The former president Megawati Soekarnoputri administration passed a law on special autonomy in Papua and West Papua provinces in 2001 to guarantee Papuans the right to manage their own region politically, economically and culturally. The law also stipulated the allocation of special autonomy funds, valid for 20 years.

As the transfer of funds will end in 2021, the House of Representatives has included deliberation of Papua’s special autonomy status in this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list.

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