Sahril Rasid, Gorontalo – Hundreds of Papuan students from the Gorontalo West Papua National Committee (KNPB) held a commemoration marking West Papua's 62nd independence day front of the Gorontalo State University (UNG) campus in Gorontalo province on Friday December 1.
The hundred or so students held the action by giving speeches calling for Papuan independence and demanding an end to violence by security forces.
In the speeches they made four requests, namely:
1. Asking that the Indonesian government immediately investigate cases of human rights violations that have occurred since 1961.
2, Asking for an end to military [operations] and the withdrawal of all organic and non-organic troops from the land of Papua.
3, Urging the government to close down the PT Freeport gold-and-copper mine, palm oil plantation companies, the company PT Block Wabu and all foreign companies in the land of Papua because they are all illegal.
4. End the criminalisation, intimidation and discrimination against fighters for democracy and Papuan independence activists.
Speeches were given by students studying on various difference campuses in Gorontalo including the UNG, the University of Gorontalo (UG), the Gorontalo Muhammadiyah University (UMGO) and the Gorontalo Ichsan University.
"Today, we students from Papua commemorate the 62nd anniversary of independence. Papua has been independent since 1961", asserted action coordinator Fred Nomber in a speech.
Today's action, said Nomber, was held so that all of the Gorontalo people know that the situation is Papua at the moment is not all right. He said that Papuan students and communities throughout Indonesia have taken to the streets today to articulate this.
The action in front of the UNG campus, which took place at around 1 pm, caused little traffic congestion. Police officers meanwhile could be seen on guard in the vicinity of the demonstration.
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 "Beranda Headlines di Gorontalo Mahasiswa Papua Turun ke Jalan, Peringati Hari Kemerdekaan ke 62".]