Papuan students in Yogyakarta blockade road, call for referendum

Source – July 4, 2007
West Papuan students hold rally in Yogyakarta (hello-pet)
West Papuan students hold rally in Yogyakarta (hello-pet)

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – The Morning Star continues to be used as a symbol of struggle by West Papuan students in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta. Students and police were also involved in an argument after students refused a police request to remove the symbols. Students even blockaded the road.

The students, who came from the United West Papua Popular Struggle Front (F-Parera-PB), ignored police and continued to wear headbands with pictures of the Morning Star. They also unfurled a large banner with the picture of the Morning Star with the words “Referendum Yes” written on it.

When the students began to move off from the Papua Dormitory on Jl. Kusuma Negara, they were intercepted by some 200 uniformed but unarmed police who were waiting in front of the Handicraft and Skin Building some 500 meters from the dormitory.

Action coordinator Daud Kulba intervened and began negotiating with the Yogyakarta municipal police chief Deputy Police Commissioner Ngadino who was assisted by Police Commissioner Junaedi. Kulba requested permission for them to be allowed to proceed to the central post office.

The negotiations were tough with police refusing to give them permission to proceed because they were carrying the symbol of the Morning Star. In the end police said that they could continue the action on the condition that the symbol of the Free Papua Organisation be removed. Students however refused the offer outright on the grounds that the Morning Star is a cultural symbol of the Papuan people. They also promised that the action would be peaceful. The 100 or so students meanwhile continued to shout “Referendum Yes... Autonomy No”.

In the end the protesters turned back and returned to the dormitory to hold the action. Upon arriving at the dormitory, the students brought out tables and chairs and placed them in a row in the middle of Jl. Kusumanegara. As a result of the road being blockaded, security personnel were forced to redirect traffic.

As of 11.35am, the students were still giving speeches while scores of local residents looked on. Hundreds of security personal remained on alert. (aan/sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]