Surabaya – A protest action by the United People’s Struggle Alliance (APPR) to commemorate Youth Pledge Day at the East Timor governor’s office in the provincial capital of Surabaya was joined by various labour and student organisations as well as protesters from the Surabaya Papua Student Alliance (AMP).
According to CNN Indonesia’s observations at the rally, the Papuan students also brought posters with messages such as, “We are Veronica Koman”, “Vero Our Hero” [both written in English], “Open Access to Journalists in Papua”, and “Unconditionally Release Papuan Political Prisoners”.
One of the AMP representatives said that the participation of Papuan students in the action is evidence that the Papuan people also care about the state of the nation which is currently under threat from the oligarchy.
“This country is sick my friends, we from the Papuan Student Alliance have joined [the rally] here because we want to show that we do indeed care about the oppressed people [of Indonesia]”, said the AMP representative in a speech on Monday October 28.
They said that the AMP is taking up a number of demands including urging the Indonesian government, in this case President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, to revoke all draft laws which harm the ordinary people and weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
They had a number of other demands in addition to his, the first being demanding a full resolution of the gross human rights (HAM) violations which have taken place in Papua from 1961 to today.
“We remember the incidents which have happened in Papua, and it is still very fresh in our memories, namely the incidents of HAM violations which have been taking place since ‘61 until this day”, they said.
Then, the students demanded that the government open access to information and allow access for foreign journalists to enter the land of Papua.
“To this day, in Papua, the situation in Papua is not okay, Papua has been blacked out to the world of information, journalist’s access is restricted”, they said.
Furthermore, the AMP is also demanding that the government immediately and unconditionally release human rights activists who have been criminalised and arrested.
“The ordinary Indonesian people and activists who are aware and have acted in solidarity with Papuan people are instead criminalised by the state. So we are urging the government to release them”, they said.
Not only that, the AMP also urged the government to immediacy withdraw the thousands of military troops which are currently deployed in Papua and West Papua provinces. (frd/DAL)
Veronica Koman is a renowned lawyer and human rights activist who has been charged by Indonesian police with incitement and spreading fake news over information she posted on her Twitter account in September about a racist attack on a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya and the subsequent pro-independence protests and riots in Papua. She is currently residing in Australia where she recently met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Australian parliamentary members and was awarded the Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award by the Australian Council for International Development.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Mahasiswa Papua Gelar Aksi di Surabaya, Bawa Isu HAM dan KPK”.]