Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Papuan students call for vote amid protests marking ‘anniversary’

Papuan students call for vote amid protests marking ‘anniversary’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Papuan students under the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) rally to commemorate Dec. 1, the day pro-independence activists declare as Papuan independence day, on Sunday in Yogyakarta. AFP

Papuan students call for vote amid protests marking ‘anniversary’

Hundreds of Papuan students in Java and Bali flocked to Yogyakarta on Sunday to rally in commemoration of what some Papuans claim to be the birth of the West Papua nation on December 1, 1961, demanding a referendum on self-determination.

In some other areas, meanwhile, Indonesian police heightened security measures to prevent similar rallies from taking place, including in Papua where officers arrested dozens of people suspected of being affiliated to the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) prior to Sunday’s event.

About 100 Papuan students and activists from various organisations, including the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesia People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP), joined the rally in Yogyakarta, during which they carried banners stating that, among other things, “West Papua needs freedom, not special autonomy”.

“We also demand law enforcers to release pro-democratic and antiracism activists who are still being detained until today, as well as the government to open access for national and international journalists to Papua,” AMP chairman Jhon Gobai told journalists on Sunday.

A series of antiracism protests that broke out across Papua and West Papua in August and September has led to the arrest of at least 83 individuals for alleged treason, including FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta.

The activist is now filing a pretrial motion against the police to annul his arrest.

Jhon added rally-goers also demanded authorities stop military operations, which they deemed to have violated human rights, especially in Papua’s Nduga and Puncak Jaya regencies.

“There should be a democratic way to solve issues in Papua because they can’t be solved through military actions. The rights for self-determination are also guaranteed in the 1945 Constitution,” he said.

On Saturday and Sunday, the authorities summoned Markus Haluk and Edison Waromi – two United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leaders – to be interrogated over the distribution of flyers calling for people to attend mass prayers.

Lawyer Gustaf Kawer said the police questioned Markus and Edison regarding their signatures on the flyers.

“They confirmed that the names and signatures inscribed on the flyers were theirs, but they testified that it was not them who put their names and signatures there,” Kawer said.

Separately, Jayapura Police arrested 34 individuals and confiscated uniforms, KNPB emblems, slingshots and machetes from suspected KNPB sympathisers, Jayapura Police chief Viktor Mackbon said.

December 1 is considered by some Papuans as the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Last year, officials arrested more than 500 Papuans in several Indonesian cities for joining rallies to mark the event.

This year’s commemorations took place following unrest in Papua and West Papua, including incidents triggered by a racially charged attacks in Surabaya, East Java, in August and another one reportedly involving a teacher in Wamena, Papua, in September.

More than 30 people have died as a result of the rallies and riots.



  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said