Tubagus Achmad – A rally by the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) in the East Java city of Malang on Monday June 15 demanded the release of Papuan political prisoners (tapols) across Indonesia as well as the right of self-determination for the Papuan people.
The action, which began at around 10.30 am at the Rajabally traffic lights and ended at around 12 noon, proceeded smoothly and in an orderly manner under the tight security of the Malang municipal police Asmaul Husna unit, which is made up of women police officers.
FRI-WP public relations officer Ahmad said that similar actions are being held nationally in several cities across Indonesia. The main focus of the actions being held today are demanding the release of seven Papuan political prisoners who are on trial in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and to demand the right to self-determination.
“For the actions on June 15, nationally there are actions in Yogyakarta city [Central Java], Jakarta, Bandung [West Java] and Malang itself. Our hope is the release of the seven Papuan political prisoners who are being tried in Balikpapan and to be given the right to self-determination as a democratic solution for the West Papua nation”, Ahmad told reporters on Monday.
Ahmad explained that the public prosecutor is demanding prison sentences of between five and 17 years for the seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan. “This proves that it is unjust and that the law in Indonesia is still racist against the West Papuan people”, he said.
Furthermore, in relation to democracy itself in Papua, Ahmad revealed that there is no longer any democratic space for the Papuan people. So the democratic space in Papua is an illusionary democracy which is still unclear.
“Because so far the actions held by Papuan students are to this day always repressed by military ormas [social or mass organisations] and even the police”, he said.
Meanwhile as to the involvement of the protesters in the peaceful action, Ahmad said there were Indonesian as well as West Papuan comrades involved in the action. “The protesters in this action are made up of Indonesian comrades and West Papuan comrades. The estimated number of protesters is around 30 or so”, he said.
Separately, Malang municipal police chief Assistant Superintendent Leonardus Harapantua Simarmata said that the FRI-WP action did not have a permit nor was it issued with a receipt of notification (STTP) from the Malang municipal police.
“That actually this activity does not have a permit, so we didn’t issue an STTP for the activities by our friends from the FRI-West Papua who are organising this action today”, he told journalists.
In addition to this said Leo, as he is known by his friends, the demonstrators from the FRI-WP had ask the police to be allowed to convey their aspirations in relation to the release of the seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan.
“Earlier the demands which were conveyed to us were to convey their demand for the release of the seven defendants who are currently being tried at the Balikpapan [District] Court in East Kalimantan”, he said.
The police, he said, would accommodate their aspirations and report them to the authorised party because it matter is already before the courts.
The following are the eight demands made by FRI-WP during the action:
1. A call for solidarity with Papuan activists who have been discriminated against and become political prisoners for voicing their views and expressing their political aspirations.
2. The unconditional release of Fery Kombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengki Hilapok, Buchtar Tabuni, Irwanus Uropmabin, Stevanus Itlay alias Steven Itlay and Agus Kossay.
3. An end to all racial discrimination against the West Papuan people.
4. The withdraw of the TNI (Indonesian military) and police from West Papua.
5. To expel and demand liability from transnational companies who have exploited and destroyed the environment in West Papua.
6. To be given the right of self-determination as a democratic solution to the West Papua nation.
7. To provide freedom for the national and international press in the land of West Papua.
8. To provide freedom for social aid for Nduga refugees without the involvement of the military.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aksi FRI-West Papua di Malang Tuntut Pembebasan Tapol dan Penentuan Nasib Sendiri”.]