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Rational Demand is the Key to Getting the Response

Sample Case ULMWP's Demand and Indonesia's Response

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Opening story

I have been actively involved in Free West Papua Campaign under the Free West Papua Campaign or Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) since the end of 1999, precisely December 1, 1999. Prior to that, I started to get interested in the work of OPM when Dr. OPM John Otto Ondawame visited London in 1998.

The message he told me to send to the world was “Just Leave us Alone, please!”

Five Years later, I met Dr. OPM Ondawame in Port Vila, Vanuatu, when Ondawame and Senior OPM Andy Ayamiseba just set up WPRRO (West Papuan Peoples’ Representative Office) in Port Vila, fully supported by Minister of Foreign Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu at that time, Hon. Serge Rialuth Voghor as the Prime Minister in 2001.

The message is still the same, but the question is, “How to request, or order, or push foreigners to leave West Papua and Melanesians in western New Guinea alone?” or “Can they be told to leave us alone?” If “NOT”, how to make them leave us alone?

Negotiation as the Path to “Leave Us Alone”

Dr OPM Ondawame and myself had very in-depth discussions, repeatedly and extensively on how to get “Indonesia” and her allies “leave us alone”.

We concluded that as fellow human beings, we can ask them to leave us alone. They way to do that will be by having bi-lateral and multi-lateral dialogues between Indonesia and West Papua as equal partners in building peace across the South Pacific.

At that time, through Ondawame’s own uncle, Hans Magal, Indonesia offered Ndawame a position inside the Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, Inc as the CEO of PT Freeport Indonesia, which Dr Ondawame refused. Ondawame told me that he might accept the offer, get into West Papua, to Amungsa Land, his own home-land, and start forcing Indonesia to talk. However, this option was opted as we realized it is impossible, his life is more in danger than carrying out our undercover mission.

I started Reading Books on “Negotiation”

Some years later, I started reading books and articles on “negotiation”, particularly how to peacefully resolve conflicts.  There are two books I keep with me, first, Getting YES: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In”, by Roger Fisher, et.al, and second, “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade”, by Robert Cialdini.

There are two points I want to highlight. The first one is by Cialdini that says,

One Practice stood out as central to his success. Before beginning his sales effort, he established an aura of trust with the family. Trust is one of those qualities that leads to compliance with requests, provided that it has been planted before the request is made.

“Think Bob: Who do you let walk in and out of your hose on their own? Only somebody you trust, right? I want to be associated with trust in those families’ minds.”

Any organisations campaigning for a Free and Independent West Papua must gain “trust”, NOT from inside necessarily, but from Indonesia, so that Indonesia can have trust on the organisation.

How to build trust? is the next question, of course. But I am not going to deal with this in this note right now yet.

The second point is taken from Fisher, et.al.,  in arguing over positions, they note the following vital guideline:

The more you clarify your position and defend it against attack, the more committed you become to it. The more you try to convince the other side of the impossibility of changing your opening position, the more difficult it becomes to do so. Your ego becomes identified with our position.

The danger that positional bargaining will impede a negotiation was well illustrated under President John F. Kennedy for a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, which, if enacted, might have headed off much of the superpower arms race that ensued over the next three decades.

Closing Note for West Papua – Indonesia Negotiations

If there is a need for negotiations between the two parties, then there is a need for building trust. From our Melanesian West Papua perspective, it is important for ULMWP to build trust. How to do that? The most feasible thing for the ULMWP to do so far is by inviting Indonesia to become Full Member of MSG at the time requesting the ULMWP to be full member of this United Nation’s sub-regional body. This will mean to each party that ULMWP is serious about talking to each other on the issue of Indonesian occupation on Melanesian ancestral land: West Papua.

The ULMWP needs to stand out as the peacemaker, as trustworthy, does what it promises to deliver, and welcomes any efforts to have talks with Indonesia.

Secondly, the ULMWP should be prepared to become professional in negotiations. By “professional”, I mean understands and carry out negotiations activities, not by demanding Indonesia all the time, but by giving in herself to the processes, in order to assist Indonesia to take steps towards negotiations.

Positional bargaining is not the way to bring Indonesia into negotiating table. It is the opposite, that is to say, by demanding steps that Indonesia is able to take so far, and then build the trust between two parties.

Demanding Indonesia to do anything at all without giving in, or without starting the negotiation by limiting some demands will not bring about any outcome, but rather, it means we are pro-longing the suffering of our Melanesian WANTOKS from West Papua. Demand only what Indonesia can deliver right now, then begin talking to each other. From there, something will develop further.

By “rational demand”, I mean the demand that can be executed as first steps towards negotiations.

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