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Brotherhood of Sa Papua Sa Indonesia

Sa Papua Sa Indonesia is a very famous local tagline in Papua and West Papua which has a simple meaning of I am Papuan I am Indonesian.

Papua and West Papua is easily noticeable region on the world map. In fact, together with Papua New Guinea – a.k.a New Guinea, it is the 2nd biggest island in the world. To those who know Papua it is a mix of thriving modern urban cities, developing rural villages, and very traditional remote tribe areas. Its local government is known for implementing local wisdom under special autonomy arrangement and its people environmentally friendly and maintain customs and culture.

Foreigners from all over the world love the opportunity to visit Papua and West Papua for it’s breathtakingly beautiful nature like Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat (

Beside all positive side of Papua, there is a long historical low level insurgency in the region. It was and still is a brotherhood quarrel between Papuan who love to join Indonesia and who want independence.

The Banter Republic’s article The Bond of Brotherhood inspired me to write about Papuan brotherhood with a scared credo: One People One Soul. Some may not agree with such traditional communalistic approach of Papuan in uniting the people. However, if we look at the local wisdom of conflict resolution through customary law and also tribe war, we may understand that majority Papuan are simply longing for peace but they must face a tradition of war for conflict settlement.

Quoting from Banter Republic, “Brotherly love is the bond of brotherhood“. A successful practice of brotherhood within a small family can be seen in a harmonious relationship between brothers and sisters and their parents with respect, honesty and openness as their main quality. Of course there is a little lie among them to avoid unnecessary hurting each other.

For a more complex practice of brotherhood can be found within an extended family consist of several generations of people and can include biological parents and their children as well as in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If the extended family has the same family name, the feeling of brotherhood may be stronger than those without family name. However, culture and sometime ideology may have influence the closeness of their brotherhood.

How about practising brotherhood in a very large family like a tribe in Papua and West Papua. They are indeed one big family living in the same place ranging from hundreds to thousands of people. There is a huge possibility that some isolated tribes only have less than one hundred people and some may have become extinct. The distinct identification of a tribe is like brotherhood in a family and in many cases if they have contact with other tribes, it may end in a tribe war. That is why, the credo One People One Soul that has strong influence in uniting one tribe, should be extended crossing hundreds different tribes in Papua and West Papua.

When Banter Republic mention about Half the time when brothers wrestle, it’s just an excuse to hug each other, I have no difficulties in putting the situation in a tribe in Papua and West Papua. Relationship among members of a tribe is very close, they are knit together not only because they care and love but also for survival in the jungle. During a hunting season, a group of Papuan men must relies on their brother to watch for their back. They must be aware of the dangers that lurk them. In even a bigger picture, facing potential attack from other tribes and also uninvited wild animal attacking their village, all bothers and sisters in a remote village must working together. Wrestle among Papuan children, Papuan teenagers, and also Papuan young men are mostly part of training to defend themselves from dangers. They also use it as an excuse to hug and laugh each other. Sometimes, when the wrestle is gone to far and getting serious and potentially harm each other, the elders use customary law to settle the conflict.

How about Sa Papua Sa Indonesia?

I am Papuan I am Indonesian is a local tagline that majority Papuan want to implement in their daily life against conflict provocation by separatist terrorist group. Some Papuan separatist terrorist groups like Free West Papua Campaign and the Papuan Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement instigate conflict by dividing the people who live in Papua into two categories: indigenous Papuan and non-Papuan settlers. This division is very dangerous and unaccepted because the so called non-Papuan settlers have many different variation. Many of them already live in Papua for generations even before the Dutch came to Papua. Some of them came later in 19th century and some other in the modern time of 20th and 21st century. Many of non-Papuan settlers already have mix married with local Papuan and consider themselves as Papuan.

Papuan students – Sa Papua Sa Indonesia (photo: Topik Papua)

Creating an atmosphere of brotherhood across different ethnic groups and new community of mixed ethnic groups is not easy, especially when there is a different political standpoint against the will of the people to live together peacefully. I believe majority of the crowds who fight for unity with Indonesia and those want to separate from Indonesia are longing to hug each other like brothers but prevented by elites narratives to hate each other.

Sa Papua Sa Indonesia is just one positive narratives that both indigenous Papuan and non-Papuan settlers need to develop further to stop conflict provocation.

The bond of brotherhood in a small family can be created within several years. The bond of brotherhood within an extended family needs longer time to be solid, perhaps in two generations. The bond of brotherhood in a tribe is even a longer process of hundred years. However, in modern time, the bond of brotherhood in Papua and West Papua under the tagline Sa Papua Sa Indonesia may have potential to cut the long process by education and socialisation through many channels for example education institutions, the churches, traditional institutions, and local governments. People should be taught about brotherly love. The simple definition of brotherly love is like God commands believers to “love one another with brotherly affection” (Rom. 12:10).

Please also read: He ain’t heavy, he’s a brother from Papua

There are many more notes from Banter Republic that inspire me to continue writting this article, but I may have to stop it here because the point of my article is to show the importance of brotherhood in maintaining peace.

West Papua View All

This Blog has gone through many obstacles and attacks from violent Free West Papua separatist supporters and ultra nationalist Indonesian since 2007. However, it has remained throughout a time devouring thoughts of how to bring peace to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia.

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