Indonesia’s heavy-handed approach has failed to crush Papuans’ nationalist sentiment. COVID-19 is an opportunity for Jakarta to push for reconciliation and address the community’s genuine political concerns.
Indonesia is bringing coal mining to West Papua despite an independence movement that has contested Jakarta’s claims to the region’s resources for almost 60 years and faced violent repression. The region also has a track record of destructive mining and gas projects that have brought few benefits to most local residents.
The Indonesian government’s response to the protests in West Papua is undermining its credibility. Without meaningful dialogue between all parties, tensions will remain and protests will continue.