December 1 anniversary commemorations in Papua marred by arrests, intimidation

KBR – December 1, 2017
Declaration of independence commemoration at LBH - December 1, 2017 (KBR)

Ramadhan, Winna Wijaya, Jakarta – On December 1 several groups held protest actions commemorating the declaration of West Papua’s independence and the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Actions were held in several parts of the country including Jakarta and West Papua. The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) however claims that the commemorations in Papua were marred by arrests and intimidation.

KNPB Secretary Ones Nesta Suhaniap said that police arrested 25 people in Papua including 22 in Merauke and three in Sorong. The KNPB is still attempting to confirm news of arrests in other areas.

“Police made arrests in several areas. In several places security forces prohibited thanks giving events. There was terror and intimidation. The justification being that NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is non-negotiable, so it’s nothing new”, Ones Nesta told KBR on Friday December 1.

Ones Nesta said that the main action commemorating the OPM’s anniversary at the KNPB secretariat in Jayapura had already been held. The commemoration was attended by hundreds of people and involved prayers, free-speech forums and the cutting of a cake.

“These celebrations show that the Papuan people have never forgotten their historical past. The Papuan people will continue to struggle in order to straighten out history”, said Ones Nesta.

Nevertheless said Nesta, the event at the KNPB secretariat was surrounded by police and TNI (Indonesian military).

Moreover, said Ones, several local people were prevented from taking part in the OPM anniversary commemoration at the secretariat. “There has been increased security in Papua since yesterday”, said Nesta.

Jakarta action

In Jakarta, a commemoration was held in front of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Central Jakarta. The action involved around 280 people from the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP).

Hundreds of those taking part in the action had come from cities such as Bandung, Tangerang and Bogor (West Java), Semarang, Solo, Salatiga and Yogyakarta (Central Java), Malang and Surabaya (East Java) and Bali.

The protesters wore white headbands with images of the Morning Star flag while several carried the black flags of the AMP and the white flags of the FRI-WP.

The demonstrators also brought posters with demands such as, “Withdraw Organic and Non-Organic Troops from the Land of Papua”, “Close Freeport” and “Give the Right of Self-Determination to the West Papuan Nation”.

The action in front of the Jakarta LBH began at 7am. Initially the demonstrators intended to hold a long-march to the PT Freeport Indonesia offices in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta.

But as the demonstrators began moving off in the direction of the Menteng in Central Jakarta they were blocked by police and forced to hold the action in front of the nearby Megaria bus stop.

In response to the police blockade, the protesters shouted, “Free Papua” and “Papua Freedom” and sang West Papuan songs of struggle, “I am not red-and-white [referring to the Indonesian national flag], I am the Morning Star...”.

As time for Friday afternoon prayers approached, FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta instructed the demonstrators to speed things up.

At 10.18am Surya and AMP Secretary General Adhen Dimi read out a statement. Following this, in a symbolic action, several representatives of the protesters gave flowers to police as a symbol of peace.

“Aside from it being a holiday, and because it is forbidden to wear the symbol of the Morning Star, the police claim that we have not provided them with a notification of the action. Yet we have”, said Adhen explaining why they had been prevented by police from marching to the PT Freeport office in Kuningan.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was KNPB: Peringatan HUT OPM Diwarnai Penangkapan dan Intimidasi.]