Pacific Scoop

MSG ministers ‘witness repression’ as protesters call for free Papua voice

Protesters demanding admission to the MSG for West Papua at the gates of Cendrawasih University in Jayapura. Video: Free West Papua Campaign

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By PMC news desk

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation says foreign ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been able to see first hand Indonesia’s suppression of the Papuans, reports Radio New Zealand International.

West Papuans have sought self-determination since Indonesia seized control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.

On Monday, Indonesian police reportedly arrested more than 40 people in Jayapura when the MSG ministers briefly visited on a mission to vet a formal application by the coalition to become an MSG member.

However, Papua police denied there were arrests, beatings or intimidation, adding that some people were taken in for questioning.

The Free West Papua Campaign reported police had arrested 47 West Papuan activists gathered at the Office of the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) in the capital of Jayapura to welcome and support the MSG group n their arrival.  The campaign reported on social media networks:

“Approximately 35 Indonesian police offices, which can be seen in this video, arrested and forced into police vehicles 47 West Papuan protesters including the elderly.

“In the video, an elderly Papuan woman can be seen being physically harassed and pulled by the police. This is Mama Yosepha who is an environmental activist who won The Goldman Environmental Prize in 2001.

“She was also among those arrested after her clothes were torn by the police as she was trying to stop them taking away others.”

Hundreds of West Papuan students also gathered outside the Cendrawasih University (UNCEN) in Jayapura and demanded that West Papua join the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

In this video, hundreds of Papuan student can be seen demonstrating in front of UNCEN and by coincidence, hundreds of Western English speaking tourists were outside taking photos. As English speaking protesters tried to explain the situation to the tourists, Indonesian police and plainclothes police (who are everywhere in West Papua) tried to move the tourists back into their tour buses before they could discover the truth of what is really happening n West Papua.

Radio NZI reported that the WPNCL’s Vanuatu-based vice-chairman, Dr Otto Ondawame, said that while Indonesia shifted the purpose of visit to one about economic co-operation, the ministers’ lack of access to Papuan civil society was obvious.

“It has become clear that Indonesia kills or suppresses the people on the ground for demanding political change. So they are very happy they witness the true colour of the Indonesian government as the colonial master,” he said.

Dr Ondawame said he appreciated the stance of Vanuatu, which pulled out of the visit just days before it was to go ahead.

What next for West Papua?