Australian advocacy group condemns Indonesian crackdown on Papuan ‘democracy’ rally in Bali

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The Bali Papuan protest and clashes with Indonesian nationalists
The Bali Papuan protest and clashes with Indonesian nationalists and police on 1 April 2023. Image: Bali Express

Asia Pacific Report

The Australia West Papua Association has condemned an Indonesian crackdown on a peaceful Papua self-determination rally in Bali at the weekend after a militant nationalist group targeted the Papuan students.

The Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Bali City held the rally on Saturday calling on the Indonesian government to hold a referendum for self-determination for the Papuan people.

The theme of the rally was “Democracy and human rights die, Papuan people suffocate” but security forces broke up protest when militants clashed with the students.

“Yet again a simple peaceful rally by West Papuans was forced to be disbanded by police because of the attack on the demonstrators by an Indonesian nationalist group,” said Joe Collins of the AWPA.

“And Jakarta wonders why West Papuans want their freedom.”

A spokesperson for the student group AMP said there was a lack of freedom of expression in West Papua and the human rights situation was getting worse.

As the rally started, it was blocked by members of the Indonesian nationalist group Patriot Garuda Nusantara (PGN).

Intelligence officers
The AMP action coordinator, Herry Meaga, said in a statement that a number of intelligence officers had also been monitoring the clashes.

Meaga said the students had tried to negotiate with a number of the PGN coordinators but the situation deteriorated.

Clashes broke out between the two groups when the PGN crowd started to push the AMP group, and tried to seize their banners.

The PGN threw stones and bottles. There were injuries on both sides as the groups clashed.

According to an article in the Bali Express, about six people from the nationalist PGN were injured and more than a dozen from the student AMP.

Police on standby near the location broke up the demonstration.

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