Indonesian racism against indigenous Papuans ‘flourishing’, say protesters

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Sorong protest 290321
The protesters in Sorong, West Papua, demanding that action be taken against the racism by Indonesian authorities. Image: Suara Papua

By Reiner Brabar in Sorong, West Papua

Scores of activists from the Papua People’s Solidarity Against Racism (SPMR) have held a free speech forum in front of the Elin traffic light intersection in Sorong city, West Papua, province.

The action was held to oppose racism against indigenous Papuans which is “flourishing and rooted” in the minds of Indonesian people, say the activists. They urged the Indonesian government to immediately investigate cases of racism against indigenous Papuans (OAP).

“The contempt towards OAP is not something that has only happened recently in Indonesia. It has been happening for a long time but the Indonesian state continues to protect the perpetrators without acting firmly against them,” said action coordinator Apey Tarami following the action on Monday.

According to Tarami, the racist attitudes shown towards Papuan soccer player Patrik Wanggai is just one more note in a long record of racism in Indonesia which has targeted the Papuan people.

“The state protects perpetrators of this flourishing racism. This is evidence of continued racism against Papuans this year. Meanwhile there are no clear legal actions taken even though it is reported to the police,” said Tarami.

Tarami noted other cases which have occurred, such as those against former Human Rights Commission member Natalis Pigai and the recent racist threats against Papuan students in Malang, East Java, by the Malang police chief (Kapolresta) as examples of how the state protects the perpetrators.

Another activist, Ando Sabarafek, said that each time there was a racist incident against Papuans it was always resolved by an apology through the mass media, but this did not heal the “spiritual injury” suffered by Papuans.

“The Malang Kapolresta must be sacked. Firm action must be taken against the perpetrators of racism against Patrik Wanggai though social media. An apology can never heal the hearts of Papuan people,” he said.

The activist from the group Kaki Abu also called on the Indonesian government to immediately give the Papuan people the right to self-determination as a democratic solution.

“The NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is a racist state. Papuan independence is the best solution so that the Papuan people will be free to determine their own future,” he said.

“As long as the Papuan people are under Indonesian [rule], racism against Papuans will continue to flourish and never disappear from the face of the earth and the character of the Indonesian people.”

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Rasisme Terhadap OAP Tumbuh Subur di Indonesia”.

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