President Jokowi willing to meet with representatives of independence movement

Multiple news outlets reported that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is willing to meet with representatives of the Papuan independence movement. A journalist had asked President Jokowi in front of the presidential palace on 30 September 2019 whether he was ready for a dialogue with pro-independence groups. “I will meet anyone who wants to meet me”, Jokowi replied. Jokowi’s statement contrasts the position expressed by several ministers of his cabinet. On 5 September 2019, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Wiranto, stated in another interview there was clear evidence for the involvement of two local organizations in the 'foreign conspiracy', namely ULMWP (United Liberation Movement West Papua) and KNPB (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat) under coordination of Benny Wenda.

The chair of the ULMWP, Benny Wenda, welcomed Jokowi’s statement and published a press release in which the ULMWP listed the conditions for a dialogue, namely:

1. Talks on a referendum on self-determination shall be included in the meeting agenda;
2. The meeting is conducted through third-party mediation;
3. The UN High Commissioner for Human Right is allowed to visit West Papua;
4. All additional 16,000 military and police personnel deployed since August
2019 shall immediately be withdrawn;
5. All West Papuan political prisoners shall be released
6. All restrictions on entry to West Papua for international media and NGOs shall be lifted.

The police has launched a widespread wave of arrest and prosecutions against members of the ULMWP, KNPB and human rights defenders. The arrests occurred in multiple places across the Archipelago. Indonesian Police Chief, Tito Karnavian, stated that this was part of the effort to re-establish “conducive security conditions”.  Amnesty International (AI) expressed concerns about the significant increase of prosecutions against peaceful activists and human rights defenders. On 2 October 2019, AI published an open letter addressed to President Jokowi regarding the increasing use of Treason charges (‘makar’) against Papuan activists to stifle freedom of expression. AI called for the immediate and unconditional release.