Marking Trikora, protests calling for Papuan self-determination held in 14 cities

Suara Papua – December 19, 2017
FRI-WP and AMP protest in Semarang - December 19, 2017 (Rico Tude)
FRI-WP and AMP protest in Semarang - December 19, 2017 (Rico Tude)

Bastian Tebai, Semarang – On Tuesday December 19, the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) held simultaneous protest actions around the country against the Trikora declaration that was made on December 19, 1961, 56 years ago.

The actions, which were called by the AMP and FRI-WP, were held in 14 different cities.

High-school and university students, Papuan youth and Indonesian solidarity activists took to the streets to hold peaceful actions in Jakarta, Bali, Bogor and Bandung in West Java, Salatiga, Solo, Yogyakarta and Semarang in Central Java, Malang in East Java, Manado and Tondano in Sulawesi and Ternate in North Maluku. The Semarang action was a combined cross-Java action.

The AMP and FRI-WP actions in Sula and Morotai in North Maluku, Solo and Yogyakarta in Central Java and Ambon meanwhile only involved handing out leaflets explaining why West Papuans oppose the Trikora declaration and why the Papuan nation is demanding the right to self-determination as a nation.

An AMP and FRI-WP action in the East Java city of Malang meanwhile was blocked by police. One of the protesters, Elia Agapa, explained that the action was blocked by a reactionary mass organisation (Ormas). Police, who witnessed the incident just watched and allowed it to happen, surrounded the demonstrators after it turned chaotic. A clash broke out between the AMP and FRI-WP demonstrators and a joint force of police and Ormas members.

“We had 66 people at the action, which was surrounded and prevented from proceeding peacefully. A clash broke out and six demonstrators were injured. One of the six was a Papuan woman”, Agapa told

In other cities meanwhile, there were no clashes or arrests although according to sources police acted arrogantly and restricted democratic space by various means. The AMP and the FRI-WP however were still able to hold peaceful actions.

The joint Central Java four city action in Semarang involving protesters from Semarang, Salatiga, Solo and Yogyakarta began with a march from the Diponegoro University (Undip) in Semarang to the Central Java governor’s office. Under the falling rain, the protesters then marched around the Simpang Lima Park. Despite being soaked by the rain, the protesters remained in high spirits singing “Papua is not Red-and-White but the Morning Star” [referring to the Indonesian national flag] and shouting “Free Papua”, which reverberated throughout the march.

In speeches, action coordinator Janua Adii and AMP Semarang member Ney Sobolim asserted that the claim by President Suharto that Papua was a puppet state created by the Dutch was made unilaterally. The fact is that the December 1, 1961 declaration [of independence] expressed a lofty and genuine wish by the Papuan nation to be free and sovereign in their own land without interference by other nations.

In Yogyakarta, AMP chairperson Abbi Douw asserted that independence was a political right of the Papuan people as a nation.

“Papuan independence is guaranteed under international law. The universal declaration of human rights, international conventions on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights, in the first article it states that every person has the right to hold a political position and every nation which feels itself to be of one destiny, the indigenous people, have the right to jointly declare that we are one nation and wish to determine our own future, as was done by the Papuan nation”, he asserted.

In another action meanwhile, Frans Tomoki, said that the future of the Papuan nation under the Indonesian occupation of the land of Papua is a future of death. And the road on the struggle for Papuan independence is the only path that leads towards a safe life for the Papuan nation.

FRI-WP solidarity activist Riko and colleague Penthol both said in speeches that Papuan independence is fitting because it is indeed true that today the Papuan nation is colonised by Indonesia.

“Indonesia itself is also still colonised by a rogue military and capitalists who today are the accomplices of global capitalists. Their interests are to control and take all the natural wealth in Indonesia and Papua. And today, the fact is, that the ordinary Indonesian people, as well as Papuans, are still poor, powerless, and suffering amidst all this wealth”, asserted Penthol.

A solidarity action by the FRI-WP and Ternate meanwhile, was prevented from going ahead by local police. The explanation for the prohibition was outlined in a letter rejecting a notification of the demonstration.

In addition to not being allowed to protest in the name of the FRI-WP in solidarity with the Papuan nation, Ternate municipal police prohibited the protesters from holding the action under a theme which included the phrase “militarism”. Moreover it was expressly stated that the FRI-WP must no longer raise the issue of Indonesia colonising the Papuan nation, use the word colonisation or take up the issue of self-determination for the Papuan nation as a democratic solution.

The Ternate municipal police also demanded than when submitting a notification for the action the FRI-WP must bring an ID card which is included in the written notification and indicates the identity of the action organiser. These prohibitions meant that the FRI-WP were only able to hold the action on the campus grounds.

Reading out a statement at the end of the action, Semarang city AMP committee chairperson Jakson Gwijangge asserted that they had three main demands. First, urging the state to immediately give Papuans the right to self-determination as a democratic solution for the people of West Papua.

Second, demanding that the state close down all companies, both national and multi-national, operating in the land of Papua. Third, urging the state to immediately withdraw all Indonesian military and police, both organic and non-organic, from the land of Papua.


Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961. It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at seizing and annexing the Dutch overseas territory of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.

Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag was first raised at a Dutch sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia. The first unilateral declaration of independence was in fact made by the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Tolak Trikora: AMP dan FRI WP Aksi di 14 Kota, 66 Orang Ditangkap.]