Papuans rally at parliament demanding end to special autonomy law deliberations

Suara Papua – July 15, 2021
Papuans rally at parliament demanding end to special autonomy law deliberations – July 15, 2021 (Dok Pribadi)

Agus Pabika, Jayapura – Earlier this morning on Thursday July 15 Papuan students from the Papua People's and Student Front held a peaceful rally at the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Senayan, Jakarta, rejected the extension of special autonomy (Otsus) and new autonomous regions anywhere in the land of Papua.

The students, who came from a number of different cities including Bandung, Bogor, Tangerang and Jakarta, went to the DPR to call for an immediate halt to deliberations on the Draft Special Autonomy Law (RUU Otsus) because the articles in the law have not brought any benefits to indigenous Papuans.

Speaking by phone, Papuan Central Highlands Indonesian Student Association (AMPTPI) secretary General Ambrosius Mulait said that the protest was obstructed by police even though they had already submitted a notification of the action.

"We are asking that Otsus in Papua be revoked because the law does not provide any benefits for the ordinary Papua people where the substantial issues which today the Papuan people are demanding have never been addressed or accommodated in the Otsus Law since [it was enacted] 20 years ago", said Mulait.

Mulait continued saying that since Otsus has been implemented the problems in Papua have never been addressed such as justice for human rights violations and demands for a referendum, which the ordinary people want, but the central government has not accommodated.

"The central government has pursued Otsus arbitrarily without looking at or accommodating the wishes of the ordinary Papuan people themselves, and in the end, Otsus has failed politically because the Papuan people as the object have never been involved", he said.

Meanwhile the grounds for extending special autonomy are seen as the result of Jakarta egoism and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's regime will only extend the suffering of the Papuan people.

Because up until now the problem in Papua has been its political status which should have been included in the deliberations on the law and the government should have given space for dialogue with pro-independence supporters rather than making the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) non-negotiable.

"So we can bring an end to the prolonged violent conflict in Papua, but this has never been accommodated by Jakarta", he asserted.

Earlier in Jayapura, as many as 23 students from the group Papuan People and Student Solidarity who were demonstrating against the extension of special autonomy were arrested by police and are still being held at the Jayapura district police headquarters.

Speaking to Suara Papua on Wednesday July 14, Papua Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition litigation coordinator Emmanuel Gobai explained that the arrested students had been holding a peaceful action opposing the RUU Otsus at the Upper Waena Cendrawasih University (Uncen), Lower Uncen and Dok 9.

[Translated by James Balowski. Edited slightly for clarity. The original title of the article was "Tuntut RUU Otsus Dibatalkan, Puluhan Orang Demonstrasi di Senayan".]