Papua students in Surabaya mark December 1 with call for self-determination

Lensa Indonesia (LICOM) – December 2, 2013
AMP protesters arally at Negara Grahadi building in Surabaya - December 2, 2013 (Suara Kolaitaga)
AMP protesters arally at Negara Grahadi building in Surabaya - December 2, 2013 (Suara Kolaitaga)

Around 300 demonstrators from the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) gathered in front of the Negara Grahadi building in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on December 2 demanding that the Indonesian government give them the freedom to determine their own future as a democratic solution for the people of West Papua.

Surabaya AMP spokesperson Mesak Pekei said that the 52nd declaration of Papua was reaffirmed yesterday on December 1 in the city of Port Numbay, Jayapura. The demonstrators are using this opportunity to again call for the acknowledgement of the sovereignty of the Papuan people.

“Based on the declaration of the West Papuan state, as of December 1, 1961 we have been independent. Then independence was taken away by the NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia], and because of this, we want to again demand our independence from the NKRI”, said Pekei when speaking with LICOM during the action on Jl. Gubernur Suryo Surabaya on Monday.

In addition to Surabaya, demonstrators also came from cities such as Bandung and Bogor in West Java, Jakarta, the Central Java cities of Semarang, Salatiga, Yogyakarta and Solo, as well as the East Java city of Malang and from Bali.

During the action they called on the government to put an end to the implementation of political policies such as special autonomy (Otsus), Otsus Plus and the Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B). They also called for the withdrawal of all organic and non-organic police (Polri) and military (TNI) from the land of Papua.

According to Pekei, the Indonesian state succeeded in thwarting the establishment of the Papuan state and forced the Papuan people the join the NKRI.

But he said that the struggle to realise the formation of the Papuan state will never abate. “[Despite] the various changes in ruling regimes in Indonesia, starting with the militaristic regime of [former president] Suharto through to the regime of SBY-Boediono [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono-Vice President Boediono], they have never been able to extinguish the Papuan people’s flame of resistance”, he added.

During the action, the demonstrators formed a circle and raised their left hands in a fist as a symbol of the Papuan people’s resistance to the NKRI. “We will continue to struggle from generation to generation until the end, because we want to determine our own future”, said Pekei.

Pekei explained that the various problems faced by the Papuan people are not about prosperity, social imbalance or economic inequality but rather are about the issue of the identity of the Papuan people as nation that cannot be resolved by the policies of the NKRI.

“This is our biggest problem, so we demand that the regime of SBY-Boediono immediately give [us] the freedom and right to determine our own future, as a democratic solution for us, as the West Papua people”, he said accusingly.

[Rakyat Papua Barat meminta kembali kemerdekaanya dari NKRI – Senin, 02 Desember 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]