On 15 July, the Indonesian legislature (DPR) revised special autonomy legislation for Papua and West Papua provinces, extending the provision of additional funds to the two provinces. The extension of special autonomy – or otsus – has been hotly debated for 18 months, with many civil society groups and independence supporters rejecting special autonomy altogether. Special autonomy is one strand of the Indonesian government’s attempts to address protracted conflict with segments of Papuan society, including armed independence groups such as the TPNPB, the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement. Another strand has been a security approach, including counter-insurgency operations, internet shutdowns and the sometimes fatal repression of dissent and protests.

In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, Dr Dave McRae discusses special autonomy and the overall Indonesian government approach to the Papua conflict with Hipolitus Wangge, a researcher at the Australian National University who was also a humanitarian volunteer in Papua in 2019 assisting displaced persons from Nduga in the Papuan highlands. He has published extensively on various dimensions of the Papua conflict, including a co-authored article with Shane Joshua Barter comparing special autonomy in Aceh and Papua, and a co-authored article with Camellia Web-Gannon on Indonesia’s counter-insurgency campaign in Nduga.

The Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Annisa Beta from the University of Melbourne’s School of Culture and Communication, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, and Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the Singapore Management University.

Photo credit: Setpres-Kris for Antara Foto

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