Thousands Walk for Peace in Manokwari without hindrance

by West Papua Media team

Manokwari, June 10, 2011:  Over 5000 people have gathered peacefully in Manokwari, West Papua, watched by about 200 security forces, to call for the release of political prisoners and detainees in Papua.  At time of publication (1530 West Papua Time), the gathering has paralysed Manokwari, according to organisers, but is unimpeded by security forces..

Organised by West Papua National Authority (WPNA), the rally began with a three mile march from Sanggeng soccer stadium to the government’s provincial office (DPRD) at Manokwari.  Thousands of Papuans were chanting “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, calling on the Indonesian government to end human rights abuses.

“Currently the situation in Manokwari is fine and is understood that there are military personal and POLRI present at the scene”, said Markus Yenu, Governor of Area 3, Manokwari.   Mr Yenu highlighted that 100 security personal in civilian clothing and 20 POLRI surrounded the civilians. “We have paralysed Manokwari, but our aspiration is for peaceful action”.

The rally dispersed peacefully with a closing prayer by Reverend Terryanus Yoku.   The majority of demonstrators were women and children.

Yohanna Wainggai, a housewife representing Melanesian Women in West Papua, said “I have to leave all my household duties and come down to this rally to speak on behalf of my children, who completed their studies but have no jobs provided after their studies”.

The organisers were pleased with the demonstration. Hans Sakorai, chairman of FNMPP (Front Nasional Mahasiswa Pemuda Pelajar Papua  or National Front for Papuan Youth and Students) stated “our peaceful rally has nearly 200 military personnel present, but no violence erupted”.

Jack Wainggai, spokesperson for the executive president of WPNA, demanded the “Indonesian authority to release all political prisoners,” and he calls out “for the international community such as Australia, USA and the UN to seriously consider the aspirations of West Papuans for self-determination”.

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