The issue of separatism has been haunting West Papua province for more than decades. Since the Dutch colonialism, Indonesian founding fathers has fought hard to release West Papua province from any form of new colonialism by the Dutch through the Puppet State of Papua. The struggle continues with PEPERA event that resulted in Irian Jaya is a part of Indonesia and until today, West Papua province is one with united Indonesia, from Sabang to Merauke. However, the glory did not just stop until PEPERA’s result is out. In conflicting area, especially the one with separatist issue, it is common to have two sided groups. The one that support the current government and believe that it is best for them to stay united with Indonesia as one nation and the other who’s not.
In one of the investigation by Roehner and Rahilly (2016) from Marie Curie University, on separatism and disintegration; they have the classification of minorities that could be useful for us to reflect in our West Papua separatist group. Roehner and Rahilly made the chart showing two branches from minorities group, non-homeland minorities and homeland minorities.
Here in this article, we will concentrate our attention on a particular type of minority known as homeland minorities. As Roehner and Rahilly stated, the homeland minorities are the one whose social and cultural life is associated with a specific territory.
Orang Gunung in West Papua and the Free Papua Movement
In West Papua cases, there is this one group called Orang Gunung (People from the Mountain) that we can classify as homeland minorities. They are associated by the rest of West Papuan communities as the opposition of Indonesian government where the Free West Papua Movement is robust among their community. Orang Gunung live in Wamena, Puncak Jaya and other highlands area. It is important to acknowledge that the economic development of the Orang Gunung cannot be felt significantly yet. Mainly because access to mountainous areas is very limited, the only way is by airplane.
The economic activity of the mountain community also depends on farming and hunting. It is very natural that these lack of economic factors become an opportunity to drive a separatist group by using Orang Gunung to become collective actors who oppose the Indonesian government. This was evidenced by the list of headquarters of the Armed Civil Criminal Group (formerly called the OPM / Free Papua Organization) which always located on the mountain. For example: the headquarters of the separatist group led by Goliat Tabuni in Gubuleme village, Tingginambut District, Puncak Jaya Regency, Papua. In contrast to coastal communities living in the coastal areas of Papua, they have received significant economic impacts and mingled with communities from other tribes in Papua. Conflict is more minimal because the structure of the community is not as communal as the mountain community. Coastal communities have already felt the existence of Indonesia as a country first.
It is common to know that Orang Gunung had a bad reputation among West Papuan society.
For the majority of West Papua province society, the Orang Gunung is the community they often avoid to be in contact with because of their well-known story of being a trouble-maker. The Orang Gunung society usually live in groups and sometimes occupy other people places irresponsibly. For instance, there is an indication that the college dormitory of Universitas Cendrawasih were occupied by non-student where most people assume that it is the Orang Gunung society. Further, in some places, there is local rules stated that the Orang Gunung is not accepted to stay due to their bad reputation. Orang Gunung also treat the problem of one of their community as their own problem. It is hard to treat the problem with them personally.
Here it is important to look back into Roehner’s analysis on homeland minorities. In West Papua province, there are many tribes possess different language and culture, for instance this Orang Gunung and still many more. Although they come from the same island, West Papuan society has various kinds of tribes that makes them unique. However, this uniqueness also comes along with the prone situation to conflict. The tribal war in West Papua province has been rooted and very common found in the area. One conflict can be the source of other conflict in the future. This condition makes the situation in West Papua province often unstable and easily provoked by irresponsible people with bad intention to the community. The Free West Papua Movement is one of the hidden agendas in those conflict.
There is an indication that the separatist group use the fragile situation to make West Papua province became chaotic and uncontrollable to the official government. In the past, the colonial government sought to group ethnicity-based dwellings as part of the devide et impera strategy, while this was done by the Dutch to maintain its power in the archipelago. Time goes by, the development as a result of assimilation and acculturation have runs naturally, while change in our society also take place. It is important to realize that communal culture based on race, ethnicity and religion is currently used as a tool for nation-breaking. One of them is the demand for separatists in West Papua who are asking for independence on the basis of the Melanesian race.