Papuans demand investigation into Wamena shooting, democratic space

Source – August 22, 2008
Protesters commemorate Wamena shooting (covesia)
Protesters commemorate Wamena shooting (covesia)

Didi Syafirdi, Jakarta – Around 20 West Papuans from the United West Papua Popular Struggle Front (Pepera) held an action at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta on Friday August 22.

They were demanding that the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla hold a full and complete investigation into the shooting of Opinus Tabuni during a commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in Wamena, West Papua, on August 9.

The protesters arrived at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout at 11am in a Metro Mini bus. As soon as they arrived, they began giving speeches and unfurled to banners reading “Open up democratic space for the West Papuan people”, “Uphold the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples” and “Fully investigate the August 9 2008 incident in Wamena West Papua”. A poster reading “Withdraw the military from the West Papua region” was also displayed.

“Fully investigate the shooting of the civilian in Wamena, West Papua immediately. We are urging the parties concerned to open up democratic space for the Papuan people”, said action coordinator Viktor Kogoya.

According to Kogoya, to this day Papuans have still not been given guarantees of the freedom of expression and to convey their views as regulated under the 1945 Constitution. Papuans are still deemed as separatists and violent methods are still used frequently by the government against the Papuan people. “We call for the military to leave Papua immediately”, they demanded.

The action was quite brief with protesters disbanding after half-an-hour of giving speeches. The action caused no disruption whatsoever to traffic in the vicinity of the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, although scores of police could be seen on guard during the action. (sho/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]