Nurul Arifin, Surabaya – A protest action in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya by students from the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) has ended in chaos with two demonstrators being arrested by police. The action was also marked by the use of the Morning Star, the symbol of the free Papua movement.
The action began with hundreds of students gathering in front of the State Grahadi building (the governor’s official residence) on Jl. Jalan Gubernur Suryo, where they demanded that Papua be freed from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
Earlier during the peaceful action, the students unfurled symbols of the Morning Star. Initially police allowed the action to continue. When thousands of workers arrived at the location to commemorate May Day the Papuan students began to disburse.
It was then that police moved in and arrested two students carrying Morning Star symbols. A scuffle between police and students was unavoidable. The two students were escorted to a police van and the Morning Star symbols seized as evidence.
“Two students were secured. We have also brought along the symbols (the Morning Star) as evidence”, said the head of the district criminal investigation unit (Kasatreskrim), Assistant Superintendent Takdir Mattanette, from the Surabaya metropolitan district police (Polrestabes) on Friday May 1. Mattanette added that the two students would be held at the Surabaya Polrestabes for questioning.
In front of the governor’s residence meanwhile, thousands of workers held an rally commemorating May Day where they gave speeches from a pickup truck. Demonstrations were also held at the governor’s office.
At around 3pm police released the two students because they were not carrying Morning Star symbols but drawings that resembled the symbol.
“They were released earlier. But we will still be asking for an explanation. Prior to the action, they also gave notice to the police”, added Mattanette. (ful)
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was May Day, Demo Mahasiswa Papua Berakhir Ricuh.]