Discussion paper

Between guns and dialogue: Papua after the exile's return

2 May 2009

Richard Chauvel of Victoria University writes that although after half a century of exile Papuan politician Nicholaas Jouwe’s visit to Jakarta and Jayapura reflected an “Indonesian strategy to persuade exiled Papuan political figures, refugees and asylum seekers to return to Indonesia”, not all went according to plan.

Chauvel argues that in light of the government’s heavy handed military response to renewed violence in Papua, “the President’s acknowledgement that the military approach is not appropriate for resolving problems in Papua” has done little to allay the fear among the Papuan community. Yet Chauvel concludes by arguing that an “optimistic reading of Nicolaas Jouwe’s visit and the subsequent violence and destruction in Papua is that a re-elected Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or a new President will feel sufficiently confident to engage in a dialogue with Papuan leaders to resolve peacefully Indonesia’s last and most intractable regional conflict.”

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