Deny Prastyo Utomo, Surabaya – Dozens of Papuan students held a demonstration at the Apsari Park in front of the governor’s office in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on Tuesday June 16. They were demanding the release of seven of their colleagues who are being tried on treason charges at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan.
The students, who came from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP), marched from the Papuan student dormitory on Jl. Kalasan, Tambaksari, to the Grahadi Building on Jl Gubernur Suryo where the action was held.
During the action they brought a number of posters which read “Immediately and unconditionally release all Papuan political prisoners” and “Immediately release the 7 anti-racist tapols in Balikpapan”. They also took turns in giving speeches.
Dozens of police could be seen watching over the rally which proceeded in an orderly manner despite attracting the attention of road users on Jl Gubernur Suryo.
“Our action today is to demand the release of the tapols [political prisoners], where the sentences demanded by the JPU [public prosecutor] are improper. We saw this from the racist acts last year at the Papuan dormitory [in Surabaya], the perpetrators of the racist slurs by security personnel and ormas [mass organisations]. Their sentences were not equivalent to the victims of racism, the seven tapols being detained in Kalimantan”, said Papuan student Sam Kayame when speaking to journalists at the action on Tuesday.
“So we here, the Papuan Student Alliance, are calling for the immediate release of the seven tapols in Kalimantan”, said Kayame.
After holding the action, the Papuan students returned the Papuan student dormitory on Jl Kalasan on foot followed by a police escort.
Because the Papuan students marched against the flow of traffic, Jl Pemuda became congested. As they marched, they sang songs of Papuan independence. As a consequence of the traffic congestion, vehicles had to be rerouted.
After arriving at the student dormitory the demonstrators went inside. The police, who had followed the march made way for the students. (iwd/iwd)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Mahasiswa Papua di Surabaya Gelar Aksi Tuntut 7 Tahanan Politik Dibebaskan”.]