Coinciding with May Day, Papua activists to protest at State Palace

CNN Indonesia – April 30, 2019
AMP protest action in Jakarta – Undated (CNN)
AMP protest action in Jakarta – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) have declared that they will hold a demonstration in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday May 1 to coincide with the commemorations of International Labour Day or May Day.

FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta Ginting said that the demonstration will commemorate 56 years since the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia which falls on May 1 each year.

“We will protest in front of the State Palace. Coinciding with Labour Day on May 1”, said Ginting at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) offices in Jakarta on Tuesday April 30.

Ginting said that they would be conveying six demands at the action.

First, calling on the Indonesian government to provide the freedom for and the right to self-determination as a democratic solution for the Papuan people.

Second, asking the government to withdraw all TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) personnel from the land of Papua as a precondition for peace.

Third, asking the government to close the companies PT Freeport Indonesia and British Petroleum because they are the masterminds behind the humanitarian crimes in Papua.

“Forth, the UN must take responsibility for and be involved actively, fairly and democratically in an act of self-determination, straightening out history and the human rights violations that have occurred against the West Papua nation”, he said.

Sixth [sic], asking the government to open access to Papua for journalists and guaranteeing freedom of information, expression, organisation and opinion for the people of West Papua.

Papuan annexation day

Ginting added that May 1 is not just a day for workers to fight for their rights. He reminded all parties to be aware that May 1, 1963 is the day when Indonesia annexed or forcibly took over the territory of Papua.

Ginting related how the annexation of Papua began when Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno ordered the military to launch the People’s Triple Command (Trikora) operation on December 19, 1961.

The operation was followed by negotiations between Indonesia and the Dutch which was facilitated by the United States and an agreement on August 15, 1962, known as the New York Agreement.

The agreement that came out of the negotiations, said Ginting, ordered Holland to surrender West Papua to the United Nation Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) by October 1, 1962 at the latest. Following the hand over, UNTEA in the name of the UN was asked to surrender West Papua by May 1, 1963.

Following the hand over, the West Papuan people should have been given the right to self-determination, namely choosing whether to become part of or separate from Indonesia. But the referendum was held under military pressure and West Papua did not end up separating from Indonesia.

“The New York Agreement provided a huge advantage to Indonesia as road to annexation”, said Ginting.

Albert Mungguar from the AMP Central Committee claimed that a slow genocide has been occurring against hundreds of thousands of West Papuans which began after Papua became part of Indonesia.

Not only that, he said that racial discrimination, massive exploitation of natural resources, the jailing of activists, abductions and forced disappearances have been taking place.

“The perpetrators are none other than the TNI-Polri and the civil apparatus which supports colonial political policies which could not possibly survive long without support from international capitalist powers”, said Mungguar.

He added that the groups’ struggle is to liberate West Papua from the colonialism of its nation and people. He also hopes that the workers holding the action on May 1 will join in fighting for West Papuan independence. (jps/osc)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Bertepatan May Day, Aktivis Papua Bakal Aksi di Depan Istana”.]