Papuan Students Deprived of their basic right to Education by the State

Returning West Papuan Students gathered in Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) to discuss 23/9/2019 before their forceful removal by the Indonesian military and police that lead to the death of three students and detention and question of more than 800 students.

Right to education is one of the basic human rights in the international law under the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UNDHR) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) of which Indonesia is a party. It is also an important pillar under the right to development another pillar of the basic human rights as human beings that deserve to be treated the best by the government of the day. Both the right to education and right to development are universal and inalienable under international law. Both laws are not discriminative because they are integral part of fundamental human rights that should be respected by all states. The right to education is inalienable to every child – boys and girls alike that should be provided by the state without discrimination based on race, beliefs or other categories.

When we look at the decision that Papuan students took to return home we see it as part of the campaign against institutional racism of the state including injustice and historical human rights abuses of the people of West Papua. It is part of the passive resistance and continuation of demonstration from Yogjakarta and other cities in Indonesia because the state did not respond positively to the demands that were given by the people of Papua to the government. The problem is getting worse because Papuan students’ education is affected yet the government is not responding to the demands of the people of Papua.

The government may see the students’ action as supporting separatism but that does not stop the government from playing its duty of upholding the highest standard of human rights. The government’s continuous ignorance on addressing institutional racism, marginalization and blockage of opportunities for Papuans is in itself a source of conflict. The government responses in recent months are in themselves are like adding fuel to the fire already set alight by the years of ignorance and neglect on addressing the human rights issues in Papua.

The OPM as an organization established to protect and preserve the interest of Papuan people including enjoyment of every human right with dignity equal to that of other independent states in the world is concerned about the future of the human resource of Papua. The OPM understands that more than 5000 Papuan students have withdrawn from Indonesian universities and moved to West Papua in defiance of racism and intolerance in major study cities throughout Indonesia. We commend the act of patriotism shown by the students for and on behalf of the people of West Papua and their environment both who have died fighting and those of us who are alive today, your act in itself will go down to the history of the West Papuan people struggle for liberation from colonialism.

The OPM leadership call upon the government of the Republic of Indonesia to come to the negotiation table to discuss a peaceful solution to West Papua conflict. Indonesia cannot and should not play hide seek within the established rules and processes of solving conflict. We challenge Indonesia to come out of fear and face the reality and listen to what the people of West Papua have been saying all alone throughout the last 57 years of annexation. Indonesia bulldogged the annexation of West Papua through its manipulative tactics applying the United Nations systems which the OPM kindly requesting Indonesia to go back again to the same drawing board to resolve the conflict because it was an international issue from the start.


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