Papuan students call for troop withdrawal, zone of peace

Source – November 3, 2008
Papuan students rally at Mandala Monument in Makassar (Detik)

Muhammad Nur Abdurrahman, Makassar – Scores of students from Papua demonstrated in front of the Mandala monument on Jl. Jenderal Sudirman in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar on November 3.

They were demanding that the government immediately withdraw the 6,000 Indonesian military (TNI) troops stationed in Papua because they have been intimidating the Papuan people for decades. This would be in order to create a zone of peace in Papua.

According to action coordinator Mape, large numbers of Papuans have been terrorised and accused of involvement in separatist activities. Yet, according to Mape, they were simply struggling for the rights of indigenous Papuans. “Papuan citizens have been arrested, even killed as a consequence of being accused of separatism,” said Mape.

Aside from the repressive actions by military forces in Papua, the protesters also called for the repeal of Special Autonomy Law Number 21/2001 because it has failed to bring any benefit to the Papuan people.

In speeches the demonstrators also protested against government injustice against Papuans since Papua became part of Indonesia in 1965 (sic). They also cited the many health epidemics that have broken out in various parts of Papua that have been ignored by the central government in Jakarta.

Following the speeches, the demonstrators held a theatrical action depicting the repressive actions by soldiers against Papuans. Accompanied by traditional Papuan music, the protesters were also carried away by the unique Papuan music of Waita. Following the protest action, the students returned to their dormitories on Jl. Lanto Daeng Pasewang. (mna/asy)

[Translated by James Balowski.]