Jakarta – Police stopped hundreds of activists from the Indonesian Front for West Papua (FRI-WP), the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Papuan Central Highlands Indonesian Student Association (AMPTPI) from leaving the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Saturday December 1.
The activists had planned to march to the Dutch Embassy in nearby Kuningan to commemorate 57 years since the declaration of West Papuan independence on December 1, 1961. From the Dutch Embassy they were to continue the action at the United Nations representative offices in Central Jakarta.
“But the protesters are still being blocked by scores of Brimob [para-military Mobile Brigade] officers (some in civilian clothing) at the LBH Jakarta exit gate”, FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta told CNN Indonesia.
Anta said that although security personnel have prohibited the protesters from holding the action he asserted that they will still go ahead with the protest as planned and will push to be allowed to hold the march.
The demand being taken up in the action is Papuan independence from the Republic of Indonesia.
Police in several parts of the country have increased alert levels in anticipation of protests commemorating the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) on December 1 and December 10.
Speaking earlier in Timika on Friday November 16, Mimika district police chief Assistant Superintendent Agung Marlianto said security had been increased in order to prevent unwanted incidents taking place during the OPM anniversary.
“We all hope that things will not happen that none of us want. The public doesn’t need to worry or be overly anxious”, he said as quoted by the state news agency Antara. (wis)
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 alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia. The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aparat Adang Demo Aktivis Peringati Papua Merdeka”.]