RI still open to foreign NGOs in Papua
Indonesia still opens its door to NGOs that want to operate in Papua, as long as they benefit the people without involvement in politics and commercial activities, an official says.
Sunu M. Soemarno, director for Socio-Culture and International Organizations at the Foreign Ministry, said the government through an inter-department meeting including his office, the Social Services Ministry and intelligence bodies, police and the State Secretariat, will decide and review whether NGOs can help build Papua.
He said if the meeting found that NGOs could benefit the province, without embarking on political activities supporting separatism or violating agreements agreed upon beforehand with ministry partners, the government would hand out permits or extend permits to NGOs. "We have approved the operation of 14 foreign NGOs in Papua while we expand scope of operations for two others based on this criteria."
Following a decision to terminate permits of Cordaid, a Dutch funding organization, to operate in Papua, Sunu said based on input from other departments, the organization had violated its agreement with its government partner, the Social Services Ministry, by being a shareholder of Bank Andara and sponsoring the participation of a community group in the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a forum that supports secessionist movements in southern Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The government requested Cordaid, which has operated for 30 years in Indonesia, to hand over ongoing projects to its local partners and not expand the scope of the projects or extend deadlines. "I have met with Cordaid's officials, and we have discussed the matter. They have regretted their mistakes, but said it was a misunderstanding as they did not know the purpose of the dialogue they sponsored.
"From my perspective, they are sincere, and until this incident, they have no record of causing problems. But, we can't cancel the letter *ceasing their permit* as the process is already underway," Sunu said. He added that Cordaid, however, could reapply for the permit, and provide evidence to the Social Services Ministry that the organization had no intention of supporting separatism, and that its operation in Indonesia had provided many benefits to Papuans. "The Social Services Ministry can take it to the inter-department meeting to be discussed, with opposing parties able to present their argument and new data. Based on this discussion, we can decide whether it can resume its operation."
Cordaid said in its letter to the Social Services Ministry that it never supported separatist activities, while asserting it had gradually relinquished its 10 percent share in Andara.