The West Papua’s long history of conflict has been bitter to some, if not most, of the communities. The somewhat forced integration into Indonesia in 1969, even through an act so-called the Act of Free Choice, has even provided limit to the people’s options. To the indigenous people being officially declared Indonesian territory was like falling into another pit hole after being saved from the Dutch colonials. At least with the Dutch, they were promised independence.
To make matter worse, violation of human rights, environmental destructions, and underdevelopment have boosted this resentment throughout the years.
Nevertheless, the Indonesian Government has not stopped to implement various initiatives to ‘clear the air’ and prove that being Indonesians are something they should be proud of.
Despite various government initiatives, here are more ideas to promote Indonesian nationalism even further in West Papua.
Doing Justice to the History of Human Right Abuses
One of the most hurtful pains the West Papuans have to suffer through the years is the human right violations conducted by the police and military personnel that keep on happening. Even though after the Suharto’s regime, the extent of human right abuses has lessened, they still occur without clear-cut justice system in place.
Courage and firmness to bring all those past genocides and mass killings to the international supreme court could be a way to the hearts of the people at large.
Conserving the Environments
With high concerns in environmental deterioration in West Papua, the Indonesian Government needs to place importance to its conservation efforts. Enterprises that take from the lands have to be enforced to give back equally, for example by doing extensive reforestations within the region.
Getting to Know Programs to Bridge Differences & Eliminate Discriminations
The West Papuans, despite having slowly integrated with the Indonesian populations at large through scholarship and student exchange programs, they are still—like it or not—discriminated. Not only because of their different colors, but also due to people’s misconception of the people as separatists from the Free Papuan Movement. The term ‘separatists’ are coined to the people even without realizing. Thus, they—both inland and out of their land—have to experience unnecessary emotional and physical struggle towards discriminative acts.
To overcome this issue, the extensive homework needed to be done to show that, like any other Indonesians, they too share common struggles, beliefs and joys.
Diversity in Educational Curriculums
One way to eradicate discriminations is by building educational curriculums that are constructive and conducive to Indonesia as multi-racial and multi-religion communities. To shape and align the young minds from the start could be key to future peace and progressive development in the Indonesian archipelago.
Implementation of this diversity curriculums may vary though. Schools for the indigenous people should be more exposed to activities introducing the children to the outsiders—the migrants and the expatriates. This would intrigue them to expose themselves more to the outside world and have a broader perspective on the many ways people could lead their lives.
Scholarships, Team Buildings, Student Exchange & Hosting Programs
Furthermore, to increase this exposure, more and more scholarships, team buildings, student exchange and hosting programs need to be funded. This will allow the ethnic Papua to learn and integrate with other Indonesian communities, and vice versa, the rest of Indonesian youngs to be part of the West Papuan lives.
More importantly, through kinship built stronger bonds may be built as one Indonesia.
Sports & Cultural Festivals
In both the West Papua and outside the region, more sports and cultural festivals should be organized. The Indonesians at large need to be introduced to their richness in cultures, sports and foods. Representative booths from each prominent tribe could be a start to introducing that the West Papua is a jewel Indonesians should be proud of.
The people need to be introduced to outside cultures too. Let them have a taste of delicious rawon or siomay from other provinces, or let them have panoramic views on the long history of struggles within other areas too.
With more of these festivals organized within and outside Papua, all Indonesians will see that we are unity in diversity and none should be discriminated against.
Instilling Pride Through Public Ceremonies, Celebrations and Events
In addition to involving the natives in flag raising ceremonies on the 17th of August, exposing their cultural richness through yearly celebrations or festivals to tourism likely brings prejudice towards the indigenous people. Under the Indonesian flag, the West Papua is becoming known for its diverse cultures.
In fact, if Indonesia could hold a national or international sporting event in the region, involving officials and participants. The event could win their conviction over integration with Indonesia.
For sure, there are many more ways to promote Indonesian nationalism within the West Papuans. These initiatives need to be conducted subtly yet strategically to let the people realize that being one Indonesia is the best option than separation.