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West Papuan students demonstrate over Indonesia’s 1969 ‘free choice’ rule

West Papua protest Yogyakarta

West Papuan students protest in central Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Gareth Stanton/Goldsmiths

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Majalah Selankah reporters in Yogyakarta and the PMC news desk

Hundreds of West Papuan students have staged a peaceful “action and free speech” demonstration in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta and in other cities across Indonesia.

The Papua Student Alliance organised the action, held at the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) traffic circle just one week after the university hosted a major international media conference, to protest against the 1969 UN-sponsored referendum on West Papua’s integration with Indonesia (Pepera, Act of Free Choice).

The students claimed the referendum had been legally flawed and riddled with manipulation.

According to Majalah Selangkah’s observations, the protesters began gathering in front of the UGM traffic circle with the demonstration starting with prayers.

One by one, they gave their political views, shouted slogans and presented a theatrical drama protesting against the Pepera.

Action coordinator Surya told Majalah Selangkah that the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) action was not just being held in Yogyakarta.

Simultaneous protests
“Similar demonstrations are being held by the Papua students simultaneously in several cities in Java to protest the Pepera that took place between July 14 and August 2, 1969, because this process was legally flawed and not in accordance with international stipulations or the New York Agreement of August 15, 1962,” he said.

“We will be consistent in and continue to struggle to articulate the wishes of the West Papuan people who were forced by Indonesia to become part of Indonesia and we will never stop struggling as long as Indonesia continues to colonise the Papuan nation.”

The AMP raised three demands during the demonstration:

  • First, the AMP demanded that they be given the freedom and right to determine their own future as a democratic solution for the Papuan people.
  • Second, the AMP called for the closure of an an end to exploitive activities by all multinational companies owned by “imperialist countries”, including Freeport, BP, LNG Tangguh, Medco and Corindo, as well as the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) and others throughout the land of Papua.
  • Third, the AMP explicitly rejects the presence of and calls on Indonesia to withdraw all organic and non-organic military and police (TNI-Polri) from the land of Papua in order to “end all forms of humanitarian crimes by the Indonesian state against the Papuan people”.

The Pacific Media Centre’s director David Robie was present at the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) conference in Yogyakarta  this month, hosted by Gadjah Mada University, and colleague Dr Gareth Stanton filed images from the protest. Translations by Abraham Goo/Yakobus Dogomo/MS.

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