Juhra Nasir, Jakarta – An action on Friday December 1 commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the declaration of West Papua independence in Sorong city, South-West Papua province, has ended in chaos with protesters throwing rocks at police who responded by firing teargas.
As reported by Detik Sulsel (South Sulawesi) on Friday, the demonstrators began gathering on Jalan Ahmad Yani at 10 am. Initially, the action proceeded in an orderly and conducive manner.
Police officers then arrived to secure the action but the demonstrators immediately attacked the police by throwing rocks. Because the action was becoming increasingly chaotic, police then fired teargas.
The teargas resulted in the demonstrators fleeing into residential neighbourhoods, although they continued attacking police with rocks and glass bottles as they ran.
"So, up until this moment we have still be able to control the situation. A bit earlier there was some pushing and shoving because indeed this afternoon coincides with a Santa parade. So for our friends that were holding an action, we forced them a bit by making an appeal", Sorong city municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Happy P Yudianto told journalists on Friday.
"We warned them to immediately disperse. But they, there was some resistance, so we forced them. This action was commemorating December 1. So we have been appealing to them since the other day not to hold the action, but they didn't heed us. We gave two warnings. We gave a time limit, that was enough. We dispersed them in a measured fashion", said Yudianto. (lir/idh)
Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star flag was first raised alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia. The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 when the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) unilaterally proclaimed West Papua as an independent democratic republic.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi 1 Desember di Sorong Ricuh, Massa Lempar Botol-Batu ke Polisi".]