Jakarta – The Morning Star flag was flown by more than 100 Papuan protesters from the Student Alliance Against Racism, Capitalism, Colonialism and Militarism during a rally in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday August 22.
The small flag was flown as demonstrators were dancing and singing a song with lyrics demanding Papuan independence.
In a speech, one of the participants protested the recent acts of racism against Papuan students in the East Java city of Surabaya.
They also said they were disappointed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s response to the racism allegedly committed by security personnel.
“Jokowi is rotten and untrustworthy. This can’t be resolved by calling for forgiveness. This isn’t Lebaran [a holiday after the Islamic fasting month when people traditionally forgive each other’s wrongdoings], it’s not Lebaran. Who should forgiven?”, said the speaker from atop the command vehicle.
Self-determination, end racism
Earlier, the group held a rally near the army’s headquarters in Central Jakarta. The majority of the participants, who were men, took off their shirts, while the others wore T-shirts and headbands with symbols of the Morning Star flag.
The action took up the theme, “Give us the Right to Self-Determination to End Racism and Colonialism in West Papua”.
One of the banners brought by the protesters read, “Expel the Papuan People back to their homeland, then the NKRI [Unitary State of Indonesia] must leave the land of Papua as the most democratic solution”.
Another banner read, “Close Freeport and give the right of self-determination to the nation of West Papua”. In addition to this, they also shouted “Papuan referendum” during the rally.
The protesters, who had gathered at the army HQ at around 12 noon, then tried to move off to hold an action in front of the State Palace. Halfway through the march however they were blocked by security personnel from the paramilitary police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and the TNI (Indonesian military).
Based on CNN Indonesia’s observations at the scene, one of the protesters unsuccessfully tried to break through the Brimob and TNI line resulting in demonstrators and security personnel scuffling with each other.
Although the scuffle almost turned into a clash, tensions subsided after the protesters were allowed to continue the rally at the Aspiration Park in front of the Presidential Palace.
Independence, not roads
Several times during the march from the army HQ to the Aspiration Park the protesters declared that the Papuan people are calling for the right to self-determination though a referendum.
“Papua? Papua? Papua?” shouted speaker Ambros from atop of the command vehicle.
“Independence!” shouted the protesters.
“Referendum?” shouted Ambros again.
“Yes!” they shouted back.
Ambros said that Papua does not need special autonomy (otsus). Otsus, which has been in place for around 19 years, is just a way for the Indonesian government to take the profits from the sale of Papua’s natural resources.
He also asserted that the Papuan people do not need development but instead need independence, which up until now they have not been given.
“Pak [Mr] Jokowi’s eyes are blind, his ears are deaf, comrades. The Papuan people are asking for a resolution to HAM [human rights] cases, and he gives us infrastructure. We ask for independence, he builds roads”, he said.
Currently the Papuan students are still protesting at Aspiration Park taking turns at giving speeches. Hundreds of police and TNI (Indonesian military) personnel are on alert nearby.
The action was in response to racism and a mob attack on a Papua student dormitory in Surabaya several days ago. A series of similar actions have been held around the country, particularly in Papua and West Papua province, where some have ended in rioting. (dhf/arh)
[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on three articles by CNN Indonesia on August 22. The original title of the articles were “Bintang Kejora Dikibarkan saat Demo Papua di Depan Istana” (https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190822134936-20-423738/bintang-kejora-dikibarkan-saat-demo-papua-di-depan-istana), “Demo di Jakarta, Mahasiswa Papua Saling Dorong dengan Aparat” (https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190822120534-20-423698/demo-di-jakarta-mahasiswa-papua-saling-dorong-dengan-aparat) and “Mahasiswa Papua Teriak Referendum di Seberang Istana” (https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190822133304-20-423724/mahasiswa-papua-teriak-referendum-di-seberang-istana).