Papuan students in Bandung mark May Day with call for independence

Source – May 1, 2013
AMP protesters at May Day rally in front of governor's office - May 1, 2013 (Tribune)
AMP protesters at May Day rally in front of governor's office - May 1, 2013 (Tribune)

Putra Prima Perdana, Bandung – Shouts of “Free Papua” resounded from a megaphone belonging to the Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) in the midst of a demonstration by hundreds of workers commemorating International Labour Day in front of the Gedung Sate governor’s office in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Wednesday May 1.

During the action, the Papuan students called for the Papuan people to be given the right to determine their own future as a democratic solution for the Papuan people.

In other words, the 30 or so students from the Land of the Cendrawasih (Bird of Paradise) called for independence for the Papuan people. The protesters showed no hesitation in displaying photographs of the victims of violence in Papua, which the students said is continuing to this day. Shouts of “Free Papua” continued until the action finished at 11am.

“If it is said that Papua is part of NKRI (the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia – Ed) then this is nonsense. The essence of the problem is, we the Papuan people simply want independence, we’re not asking for anything else”, said action coordinator Frans Kotouki during a break in the action.

In relation to the acts of violence in Papua, Kotouki conceded that this is one of the factors influencing the Papuan people’s desire to liberate themselves.

“We want to manage everything ourselves, from human resources to the natural resources that exist in the land of Papua. We don’t want to be regulated by NKRI anymore”, said the youth who is a student at the Bandung College of Health.

The Papuan people’s desire for independence, explained Kotouki, is not just held by Papuan students who are spread throughout Indonesia. “This call from all layers of Papuan society who are sick and tired of the violence. They are being murdered and slaughtered without mercy by rogue elements of TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (national police)”, he said in a trembling voice.

Kotouki added that the action was intentionally held to coincide with International Labour Day because May 1 also coincides with the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority’s (PBB UNTEA) handover of West Papua to Indonesia in 1963.

“Indonesia’s presence was not automatically accepted by the Papuan people. Hundreds of thousands of Papuans died when [Papua] was declared a Military Operation Zone in 1977-1998”, he explained.

In addition to this, they also condemned the murder of Papuan figures such as [independence leader] Theys Hiyo Eluay, [National Committee for West Papua leaders] Mako Tabuni and Huber Mabel, along with cases such as the bloody Biak incident [in 1998], the bloody Abepura incident [in 2006] and other crimes against humanity that have never been fully resolved by Indonesia.

In commemorating 50 years since the annexation of West Papuan into NKRI, the AMP is demanding that the UN and Indonesia immediately come up with a solution to allow the Papuan people to determine their own future and the withdrawal of all organic and non-organic military and police from the land of Papua.

“We are demanding an end to exploitation and the closure of all companies owned by the imperialists, such as Freeport, Corindo, Medco and others”, asserted Kotouki.

[Di Tengah Aksi May Day, Mahasiswa Papua Minta Merdeka- Rabu, 1 Mei 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]