Jokowi Heads To Papua To Celebrate Christmas


President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is slated to go to Papua to celebrate Christmas this year and also plans to meet local residents to hear their aspirations on various issues.

Jokowi is pressing ahead with his plan to attend the festivities in the province, despite calls from a number of church leaders in Papua for Jokowi to cancel his plan, as an expression of disappointment over the government’s slow response to the recent shooting incident in Enarotali, Paniai, in which five civilians were killed.

Jokowi held a meeting with National Christmas Celebration organizing committee head Yohana Susana Yembise, who is also the women’s empowerment and child protection minister, as well as other officials at the Presidential Palace on Thursday to discuss preparations for the event.

Jokowi is scheduled to arrive in Jayapura on Dec. 27 and will give a speech to open the Christmas celebration in Papua Bangkit Square at Sentani Airport, Jayapura regency, Papua.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said local police and military personnel would ensure security during the event, while Yohana said Jayapura was a safe place, far from where the Paniai incident had occurred. She added that rejections to Jokowi’s visit “came merely from a small group of people”.

“Other than the celebration, [Jokowi] wants to sit with the Papuan people and discuss what they want Jokowi to do for their welfare,” said Yohana on Thursday.

Yohana was in Papua early this week to monitor the Christmas event preparation in Papua Bangkit Square.

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman added that sending a message to the Papuan people that the province was safe was required to ensure better development there.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto revealed that Jokowi would also do blusukan (impromptu visits) to hear the voices of local residents during his two-night trip to the province.

The planned areas for blusukan are being finalized, as is the question of whether the President will visit conflict-prone areas in the province.

“The President is willing to go to the areas where people need to be heard,” Andi said.

On Thursday night, human rights activists held a solidarity event for the Paniai incident at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, citing the absence of a state response to the incident, which occurred when police opened fire on protesters in Enarotali, Paniai, on Dec. 8.

Andi said Jokowi and the government had refrained from hasty assessments or statements pending an ongoing investigation by a joint team led by Tedjo’s office.

“The President asked [us] to investigate the case thoroughly. He also wanted to make a public statement [after] there is clarity about what really occurred there and what needs to be addressed,” Andi said, adding that Jokowi was also willing to hear any findings from independent investigation teams, including those led by the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) and a Papuan synod.

Andi expected clearer developments to be reported to the President next week, and that Jokowi could then address the matter, reducing the possibility of the violence recurring.



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