Papua People’s Petition protesters hold rallies against new Papuan provinces

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Papuan protesters sit on the ground in Meepago
Papuan protesters sit on the ground in Meepago after being blocked by police on Thursday. Image: Suara Papua

By Reiner Brabar in Jayapura

Papua People’s Petition (PRP) protesters have braved brutal police blockades, forced dispersals and assaults while staging simultaneous mass actions across Papua.

The actions were held on Thursday to demonstrate the people’s opposition to revisions of the Special Autonomy Law on Papua (Otsus), the creation of new autonomous regions (DOB) and reaffirming demands for a referendum on independence.

Reports by Suara Papua have covered the following rallies:

Jayapura
A PRP action in Jayapura was held under tight security by police who subsequently broke up the rally, resulting in several people being hit and punched by police.

Four students — Welinus Walianggen, Ebenius Tabuni, Nias Aso and Habel Fauk — were assaulted by police near the PT Gapura Angkasa warehouse at the Cenderawasih University (Uncen) in Waena, Jayapura when police forcibly broke up the student protest.

According to Walianggen, one of the action coordinators, scores of police officers used batons and rattan sticks to disperse them.

Meanwhile, PRP protesters arriving from different places conveyed their demands at the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) office. Although they were blocked by police, negotiations were held at the main entrance to the Parliament building.

Several DPRP members then met with the demonstrators who handed over a document stating their opposition to the creation of the three new provinces (South Papua, Central Papua and the Papua Highlands) — ratified by the House of Representatives (DPR) during a plenary meeting in Senayan, Jakarta, on Thursday, June 31 — and and demanding that revisions to the Special Autonomy law be revoked.

Timika
In Timika, a PRP action was held in front of the Mimika Indonesian Builders Association (Gapensi) offices but this was broken up by police.

Despite not having permission from police, several speakers expressed the Papuan people’s opposition to Otsus, the DOBs and demands for a referendum. The speakers also called for the closure of the PT Freeport gold and copper mine and the cancellation of planned mining activities in the Wabu Block.

Nabire
In Nabire, PRP protesters held their ground against the police but many people who had gathered at Karang Tumaritis, SP 1 and Siriwini were arrested and taken away by the Nabire district police.

A short time later, demonstrators from several places headed towards the Nabire Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) office where they packed into the Parliament grounds.

While they were giving speeches, the demonstrators who had been arrested rejoined the action after being dropped off by several Nabire district police vehicles.

Meepago
Speakers representing various different organisations and elements of Papuan society in the Meepago region took turns in expressing their views.

PRP liaison officer for the Meepago region Agus Tebai said that the Papuan people, including those from Meepago, rejected Otsus and the DOBs in the land of Papua. Speakers also said that Otsus and the recently enacted laws on the creation of three new provinces in Papua must be annulled.

Tebai said that the Papuan people were calling for an immediate referendum to determine the future of West Papua. These demands were handed over to the people’s representatives and accepted by three members of the Nabire DPRD.

Manokwari
In Manokwari, PRP protesters gathered on the Amban main road and gave speeches.

The hundreds of demonstrators were blocked by police and prevented from holding a long march to the West Papua DPRD offices. Negotiations between police and the action coordinator achieved nothing and the demonstrators then disbanded in an orderly fashion.

Similar mass actions were also held in Yahukimo, Boven Digoel, Sorong and Kaimana in West Papua province.

Wamena
In Wamena, meanwhile, the Lapago regional PRP conveyed its support for protesters who took to the streets via video. According to PRP Lapago Secretary Namene Elopere there was no action in Wamena for the Lapago region in accordance with the initial schedule because they were still coordinating with the Jayawijaya district police.

Aside from protest in Papua, simultaneous actions were also held in Bali, Ambon (Maluku), Surabaya (East Java), Yogyakarta (Central Java), Bandung (West Java) and Jakarta.

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft. The original title of the article was Begini Situasi Aksi PRP Hari Ini di Berbagai Daerah.

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