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Release of Papua political prisoners strategic for Papua development

30th June 2015 | 2.689 Views
Release of Papua political prisoners strategic for Papua development
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) give the file a pardon to the five political prisoners in prisons Abepura, Jayapura, Papua, on Saturday (May 9, 2015). (ANTARA/Hafidz Mubarak A.)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The release of a number of Papua political prisoners was a strategic step toward development of the countrys easternmost provinces of West Papua and Papua, a special staff of the president Lenis Kogoya said.

The decision of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to set free five Papua political prisoners on May 9 was the first phase of the program for the development of the two provinces, which are far lagging behind in economic development, Lenis said here on Tuesday.

"That they are free to develop Indonesia together with us as they are also our country men," he said in a seminar on Release of Political Detainees-Prisoners, Resolution on Papua Problem,"

He said by releasing the prisoners, the president hoped to create mutual understanding of what the Papuans want as part of Indonesia.

"Papua is part of Indonesia. The prisoners were set free that they could contribute to economic development, improving education and health of the people of Papua," he said.

He said he had discussed with the president matters related to the release of the five men including the process of handing them over to their respective families and the facilities given them as a form of the governments obligation.

"I talked as the facilitator between the prisoners and the president," he said.

He said some of the former prisoners wanted education and others want to work and one wanted a house.

The president promised assistance and facilities, he said.

Meanwhile, political observer from the Populi Center, Nico Harjanto, said the release of Papua prisoners by phases was a realization of the commitment of President Jokowi to comprehensively settle the various Papuan problems especially economic and social imbalance leaving the countrys easternmost region far lagging behind.

"It would be good if the former prisoners who are local leaders, could be asked and be trained to join the system of administration. They are potential and genuine leaders that have to be involved in the system of administration," Nico said.

A similar policy was already practiced by Cuba and Brazil by involving indigenous people in the government administration, he said.

The five political prisoners set free by the president are Apotnalogolik Lokobal, who was serving a 20-year jail term, Numbungga Telenggen , serving a life sentence , Kimanus Wenda , sentenced to 19 years imprisonment, Linus Hiluka with 19-year jail term and Jefrai Murib serving a life sentence.

"Today we have set free five prisoners. This is the governments way to wholeheartedly stop the stigma of violence in Papua," President Jokowi said the day the five men were set free.

The five men were imprisoned for involvement in breaking a military arsenal in Wamena in 2003.

Jokowi said the clemency was an early step toward developing Papua without conflict.

The president wants that the clemency is seen as a move toward reconciliation to create lasting peace in Papua, observers said.

There around 90 more Papuan separatists still in jail.

The president has also announced that Papua is open to foreign journalists, a move internatioonally lauded. (Uu.H-ASG/A014)