Rahmat Rahman Patty, Ambon – A protest action by scores of Papuan students calling themselves the Struggle Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in front of the World Peace Gong in Ambon City, Maluku, was broken up by police on Sunday December 1.
The protest action, which was being held to commemorate the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), was deemed to be an illegal gathering because it was held on a holiday and no prior notification was given to police.
Before the rally was broken up, the students were involved in an argument with police. The war of words broke out after police confiscated a megaphone from the students and then removed the batteries.
Nevertheless, both the police and the students were able to stand their ground so the usual chaos at the end of anarchic protests did not happen.
During the action, the students demanded that the West Papuan people be given the right to self-determination through a referendum.
The students also expressed their support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) becoming a full member of the Melanesia Spearhead Group, the Pacific Island Forum and for the ULMWP’s membership at the United Nations.
“We also ask that the scores of political prisoners from Papua be released and we also ask that all military and non-military troops be withdrawn from the land of Papua”, said the students.
In their demands, the students also slammed alleged human rights violations in Papua committed by the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police).
The students also asked for guarantees of freedom of information, expression and assembly for the Papuan people.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Tuntut Referendum, Aksi Mahasiswa Papua di Ambon Dibubarkan Polisi”.]