University students in Jayapura demand release of Papuan political prisoners

Suara Papua – March 4, 2020
Cenderawasih University student protest demanding release of Papuan tapols – March 2, 2020 (Suara Papua)

CR-SP16, Jayapura – Students from the Cenderawasih University (Uncen) in Jayapura demanded the immediate release of seven Papuan political prisoners (tapol) currently being held in the East Kalimantan city of Balikpapan during a protest action on Monday March 2 in front of the Uncen front gate in Jayapura city.

The demonstration began at 9 am when Uncen students began gathering and giving speeches in front of the faculty of social and political science then marched to the Uncen campus front gates.

At the Uncen front gates speeches began with an address from action coordinator Nando Kobak. Kobak said that the Uncen student president, the Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) student president and two other students are currently being tried by the Balikpapan District Court.

“They will undergo more court hearings. Student comrades, let us speak out. Demand that they are released immediately”, he said.

Aside from the seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan, Kobak also called for the immediate release of humanitarian activist Surya Anta and other Papuan activists who are being detained and tried separately in Jayapura, Wamena, Nabire, Biak, Manokwari and Jakarta.

He furthermore warned that students are sensitive about the dynamics which are occurring in Papua.

“Students are the spokespeople of society. If there are problems don’t stay silent. We students must speak out. Tomorrow seven tapols will face trial again, so let our comrades convey their wishes during this peaceful demonstration”, he said.

In a speech, one of the students emphasised that the younger Papuan generation must think about the future of the Papuan people following the series of arrests and killings which have taken place in the country.

“The younger generation must think about Papua being freed from colonial occupation. Independence is the solution. Only through independence, tears and blood, only then will all of the state violence and human rights violations, which continue to take place in the land of Papua, come to an end”, said the student from a technical faculty.

Uncen Assistant Rector Dr. Jonathan Kiwasi Waromi who was present and personally witnessed the demonstration said he understood why the students were conveying their aspirations.

According to Waromi, the action coordinator and the student senate who facilitated the protest action did so in a way that it preceded in a proper and orderly fashion.

“Today’s action is a good example for the future. Whatever the aspirations they can be articulated in a way which is polite and elegant like today”, said Waromi.

According to Waromi, conveying ones aspirations in a polite manner cannot be separated from students as agents of change in the life of the nation and country which is sensitive to problems.

“I appreciate today’s action and this action is a good example for the future, when there is injustice in this land we speak out in a polite way, polite and elegant like today”, he said.

The action ended with the reading out of a statement by representatives of the student leadership and the signing of a petition to support the immediate release of the activists from legal prosecution.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Mahasiswa Uncen Tuntut Bebaskan Para Tapol Papua”.]