Sahabandi – On Friday May 13, the Greater Jakarta Papua People's Petition Joint Secretariat (PRP Sekber Jabodetabek) and the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) held a protest action with the theme "Expel the Indonesian occupation through the DOB and Otsus in West Papua", referring to the plan to create new autonomous regions in Papua (DOB) and the revisions the Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law on Papua.
The action was held as a follow up to public discussions on the theme "Revoke Otsus and reject DOB", which were held on May 10 at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices. The discussion itself was attended by around 50 people.
The action began at 10 am in front of the Horse Statue Monument in Central Jakarta. Scores of TNI (Indonesian military) and police – some in uniform and some not – could be seen surrounding the demonstrators who were deployed to watch over the action.
In a speech, one of the orators at the action condemned and opposed Jakarta's (the Indonesian elite's) position of pushing through the decision to extend Special Autonomy without considering the wishes of the Papuan people. As many as 122 organisations and 718,179 Papuans have explicitly declared their opposition to Otsus and DOB, they continued.
Another speaker took the opportunity to say that Otsus and the DOB are a strategy by Jakarta to extend the exploitation of natural resources and the slow-motion extermination of the Papuan people.
The main factor in this slow-motion extermination is Jakarta's outlook which always prioritises a security approach. This is accompanied by the constant deployment of TNI and police troops in Papua which between 1962 and 2004 has resulted in the death of at least 15,000 Papuans.
The deployment of troops continued in 2019-2020 resulting in thousands of Papuan being forced to flee in central Papua.
Speakers also said that despite being a region which is rich in natural resources, the Papuan people themselves have never really been able to enjoy these riches. The land of Papua is dug up and wiped away by global corporations and companies with links to the Jakarta administration.
In addition to this, they said that the Papua elite should not have illusions in the positions and comfortable seats given to them by Jakarta, resulting from Otsus and DOB, because the motive for giving them these positions is the extermination of the West Papuan people and nation of West Papua and theft of Papua's natural resources.
The creation of new autonomous regions will only open up more land for the exploitation of natural riches which have occurred historically in concert with the exploitation and marginalisation of the Papuan people.
The creation of new autonomous regions means additional military commands and this will only add to the injury and trauma of the Papuan people over the brutality of the Indonesian security forces.
In an official statement the groups said that the extension of Special Autonomy and the DOB are an effort by Jakarta to contain the Papuan people's movement which has become more solid and aware of the oppression it is experiencing and as a result is demanding the right to self-determination and to be free from Indonesian colonialism.
In addition to this, the action also gave its full support to the struggle by the people of Wadas village in Central Java who are fighting against the establishment of a mine on their land.
Also not forgotten was condemnation of the criminalisation of human rights activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti for publically articulating problems in the land of Papua.
This criminalisation and theft of land are concrete examples of the practices of today's government which always sacrifices the ordinary people for the sake of exploiting natural resources in the interests of big capital, concluded one of the speakers at the end of their speech.
Throughout the speeches, the crowd shouted slogans such as "Papua is not the red-and-white" and "Free West Papua". At around 12.15 pm the protest action's demands were read out and the demonstrators disbanded peacefully.
The demands made by PRP Sekber Jabodetabek and FRI-WP are as follows:
- Allow access for independent international and national journalists to enter to Papua and investigate all forms of humanitarian crimes in the land of Papua.
- Revoke Law Number 2/2021 on Revisions to Law Number 21/2021 on Special Autonomy for Papua.
- End the planned creation of new provinces in the land of Papua which represent the politics of occupation and division.
- Withdrawal all organic and non-organic troops from the land of Papua.
- Immediately allow access for the International Red Cross to provide health services to the 67,000 internally displaced people as a result of armed conflicts in the regencies of Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak Papua, the Bintang Highlands, Maybrat and Yahukimo.
- Demand that the Papua political elite stop speaking in the name of the Papuan people in their effort to create new autonomous regions for the sake of extending their power and oppression of the Papuan people.
- Unconditionally release Victor Yeimo and all political prisoners in the land of Papua.
- Immediately halt the planned construction of a space port at Biak.
- Demand that the president of the Republic of Indonesia and his cabinet halt deliberations on the Draft Law on the Creation of New Autonomous Regions in Papua.
- That the Indonesian government must immediately allow access for the international community, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and Special Rapporteur on refugees, members of congress, international journalists and academics and international non-government organisations to enter Papua.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Tolak Daerah Otonomi Baru dan Otsus Papua".]