Julian Howay, New York – Papuan and South Maluku Republic (RMS) activists have again held a joint peaceful action. This time the action was held outside the Indonesian Consulate General in New York on Monday April 12.
The protesters, who called themselves the West Papua Moluccas Coalition USA, started the protest at 12 noon local time. The action only involved three people and one of them was an Australian national.
The other two activists wore black masks covering their noses with pictures of the West Papuan "Morning Star" flag and the "Benang Raja" or RMS independence flag. They also held up two medium-sized flags which symbolised the movements for national liberation in West Papua and the RMS.
The peaceful action, which proceeded for around one hour, attracted considerable attention from people passing by as well as Indonesian Consulate staff. The action was held on the car park in front of the Consulate front door on 5 East 68th Street.
During the action the activists took turns in giving speeches using a megaphone.
Yosef Pattiasina, the coordinator of the Moluccas Action Network, explained that the action was held to articulate the human rights violations which are occurring in Indonesia, particularly in Maluku and Papua.
He also called on the US public, the mass media, humanitarian organisation and the international community not to close their eyes to what is happening in Indonesia.
"We came here to ask the Indonesian government to immediately and unconditionally release [all] political prisoners in Maluku and Papua who have been imprisoned for expressing their political views", asserted Pattiasina in both English and Indonesian.
According to Pattiasina, there are currently 12 Maluku political prisoners who have been jailed and this number may grow. He also urged the Indonesian government to reveal information on the whereabouts of the grave of Christian Robert Soumokil, the second RMS president who was killed by Indonesian troops on April 12, 1966 in Ambon, Maluku.
The peaceful action received support from the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP) which is based in New York. This could be seen from a representative who was delegated to join the action.
Roy Landersen, a white man from Australia who is also active as a journalist and the editor of the newspaper The Militant – a weekly newspaper managed by the US SWP – said he was happy to be able to take part in the action.
"I'm present here to represent the party in order to provide solidarity with the struggle for liberation by the people of West Papua and the Moluccas. I have studied several references to understand the situation which is currently unfolding in Indonesia", explained Landersen when giving a speech in English.
In a statement read out at the action, the activists also urged the Indonesian government to give the right of self-determination to the nations of West Papua and Maluku which represent indigenous nations from Melanesian racial clusters.
The peaceful action was watched over by personnel from the New York Police Department (NYPD) who in a parked patrol vehicle with the writing NYPD on it, monitored the action until if finished.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aktivis Papua dan RMS Gelar Protes Damai di depan Konsulat RI New York".]