Lesson learned from Wamena rioting

A deadly riot that broke out in Wamena, the capital city of Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, on Sept 23, has left so many Indonesians in misery.

The incident claimed 33 lives of innocent civilians, including a senior medical doctor who had served the native Papuans living in remote areas for over 115 years.

Due to this riot, several thousand survivors take refuge by leaving their torched and destroyed properties behind.

In the aftermath of the incident, many of the survivors of this Wamena rioting, originally from such provinces as West Sumatra, South Sulawesi, East Java, and Banten, have even returned to their hometowns.

Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja claimed that the rioting in Wamena was incited by the proliferation of hoaxes through social media platforms that fueled ire among its residents.

Several local media reports confirmed Rodja's claim that the incident occurred that the Wamena riot was spurred by hoaxes pertaining to a teacher's racist slur against native Papuan students.

Considering the casualties of it, the Wamena riot has become the deadliest of a wave of violence that erupted in several parts of Papua and West Papua over the past two months following the Surabaya incident on August 16 that triggered resentment and fury among native Papuans.

The Indonesian police blamed Benny Wenda, a campaigner of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) who enjoys a good life in the United Kingdom, to be responsible for a spate of violence that broke out in these two Indonesian provinces, including the latest deadly rioting in Wamena.

In response to this miserable condition, several district and provincial administrations whose people directly got affected by the Wamena rioting had facilitated their evacuation from Papua.

The Banten provincial administration, for instance, has brought 23 Wamena riot survivors originally from Banten, home.

The provincial government's humanitarian team members actually discovered 25 survivors originally from Banten taking refuge but 23 of them were keen to return to their hometowns, according to the team's head, E Kusmayadi, revealed in a press statement that ANTARA received on Friday.

The two residents of Banten Province who were affected by the deadly riot told the team members that they had worked in Sentani, Kusmayadi said.

The Banten provincial administration's humanitarian team members set up a command post in Sentani in response to Banten Governor Wahidin Halim's order to facilitate the survivors who are keen to return to their hometowns.

The team sent them in two batches. The first batch had 21 survivors, and they departed for Soekarno Hatta International Airport on October 6 while two others left on October 7.

"For those who decide to keep staying in Papua, we are going to give them a sort of compensation fund of Rp5 million," he said, adding that Banten Governor Wahidin Halim greeted the 23 returnees at the airport.

Banten Governor Wahidin Halim had earlier made a solemn promise to evacuate his people residing in Papua and keen to return to their hometowns due to the security risk and trauma following the rioting.

The Blitar District Administration has also pledged to take the similar step saying that it is ready to evacuate its people from Wamena and other cities in Papua.

To this end, the district government has kept coordinating with the East Java Provincial Government to clarify whether or not its people are among the survivors of this recent riot currently taking refuge outside Wamena.

Head of the Social Welfare Office at Blitar District Administration Romelan said that he has received reports that several people from Blitar moved to Papua Province to make a living but he has yet to get informed on their whereabouts in the aftermath of the Wamena rioting.

The exodus of these Wamena riot survivors has made the central government concerned but it is indeed aware of their trauma and anxiety.

As Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs Wiranto admitted, due to their trauma and anxiety, many of the survivors had asked the authorities to evacuate them to Jayapura, the capital city of Papua, or their hometowns outside the province.

"Most importantly, we can help neutralize the trauma and guarantee the safety and security of all people. That has even been the guarantee of local customary figures and leaders," he said.

The local leaders had appealed to the non-native Papuans in Wamena who are generally traders and suppliers of basic needs to continue their normal lives, and not to leave the city, Wiranto said.

"So, it can be imagined if they join an exodus, the district's economic engine may have been stuck. In other words, all community members need each other," he said.

Wiranto also called on the people in Wamena and its outskirts to maintain a sense of security. He believes that the refugees from the Wamena rioting will return to the city once the condition returns to normal.

On Oct 1, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw also sent the similar appeal when visiting the Wamena riot survivors currently taking refuge at Al Aqsa Mosque in Sentani, the capital city of Jayapura District.

Waterpauw requested them to return to Wamena as the police would guarantee their security. "Please get back to Wamena since we safeguard and protect the security of all residents," Waterpauw told 115 displaced residents of Wamena taking refuge at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Waterpauw was sympathetic in his approach to them, stating that he fully understood their trauma and anxiety.

"However, please do not allow fear and trauma to linger too long within you since the security personnel are ready to safeguard against all forms of disturbances," he emphasized.

The government should guarantee the safety and security of everyone, especially those who still experience the trauma of the assaults by members of the armed criminal groups and Free Papua Organisation (OPM).

All Indonesians, both native and non-native Papuans, have living in peaceful tolerance and coexistance for decades so that the central and regional governments must be able to provide them all with social justice and prosperity as well as a real sense of safety and security.

In the recent Wamena rioting, many native Papuans have even saved their Indonesian brothers and sisters being targeted by the rioters at their homes and churches. This is really an evidence that means so much for promoting a confidence building measures among the people.

Source: ANTARA News

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