Photo Report: Mass ralllies show Papuans refuse to accept Indonesian Occupation

by sources

Social Media across West Papua is abuzz with declarations of relief and pride for the successful and peaceful mass mobilisations called by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) to support the “West Papua: Road to Freedom” conference in in Oxford UK, on August 2.   The Photo Galleries below demonstrate unequivocally the scale of Papuan opposition to Indonesian rule.

Despite threats of heavy-handed Indonesian security force actions preventing free expression, attempts by the army to blocakade demonstrators, and unexplained act of violence suspected by many to be the work of Special Forces prior to mobilsations, tens of thousands of people across Papua took to the streets to demand their universal human rights to self -determination and a Referendum on the future of Papua.  Though vibrant and very loud, the rallies across Papua reportedly proceeded without any violence or provocations from security forces or proxies.

Bukhtar Tabuni, Chairman of KNPB, said “My appeal to all West Papuans living in jungle, in prison, in various parts of Papua and those living in exile that today all West Papuans must show their solidarity to support the KTT ILWP in Oxford. This event is important because it will conclude whether “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 was illegal and because the UN involved in the transfer of West Papua, it is an international issue.”
Terrianus Yoku, President National Congress West Papua National Authority said, “WPNA fully supports the rally organised by KNPB and appeal for international advocacy to monitor the current situation because it’s very volatile and unsafe.”
In Jayapura, the Rally coordinator from KNPB, Bernard Tabuni, explained that by mid afternoon the marchers paralysed Abepura, with traffic jammed, shops and schools closed and the marchers stretching for well over a kilometre with around 15,000 demonstrators.  The marchers were painted with mud on their body and also painted with stylised depictions of the banned Morning Star flag, thereby upholding the agreement with security forces that no flags would be flown.  The marchers were exuberantly singing and chanting, playing traditional instruments along the route, joined in the Long March by over 30 trucks, 20 station wagons, 17 Kijangs, 400 motorbikes of people joined the long march.”
With its roots in ancient Papuan traditions, demonstrators had planned several marches, called Long Marches, to converge on the DPRP – the focal point for the day’s events.  Troops from the TNI and Brimob riot police attempted to blockade one Abepura-bound Long March at Waena, but demonstrators outwitted the security forces by getting into vehicles and driving around them.  Exuberant scenes of yelling and singing greeted the procession of vehicles as they joined the main body at Abepura.
Daniel Wenda, secretary of KNPB, mentioned that four TNI truckloads of red and white uniformed Barisan Merah Putih (Pro-Indonesian militia) also organised a rally outside DPRD office in Jayapura.   Slogans on the banners stated “Reject the ILWP Summit” (KTT ILWP),  “Don’t lie to the people”, “Detain all corruptors.” and also “anti-Corruptor”.  Observers i Papua have taken the BMP slogans with mirth and irony given that their chief, Ramses Ohee, is regularly the beneficiary of corrupt dealings, has extensive illegal business interests, and receives significant funding from the notoriously corrupt Kopassus special forces.
“This demonstration is aimed to attract attention and counter our main rally but we will not be provoked”, said Daniel Wenda.
Bernard Tabuni reported that undercover military intelligence officers were amongst the demonstrators, and four truckloads of fully armed security forces were following behind the marchers.  TNI and Kopassus were also amongst the bystanders with cameras recording every movement.
A screening of a live internet stream from the Road to Freedom conference in Oxford was planned to be held at the grave of Theys Eluay on Tuesday night, but there are conflicting reports on the success of this.
A carload of armed BMP members appeared at the KNPB Secretariat in Waena late on Tuesday evening.  According to Daniel Wenda, the militiamen – a mix of Javanese and older Papuan men – attempted to gain entry, allegedly to abduct Mako Tabuni, KNPB Vice Chairman.  Tabuni was quickly bundled by KNPB security to a safe location.

In Wamena in the Baliem Valley, almost 17,000 people to a mass gathering that saw scenes of exuberance, singing and dancing.  After several hours of speeches and music, demonstrators peacefully dispersed.

In Sarmi, Yakuhimo and Keerom, reports are filtering out that flagraising ceremonies were held successfully without incident.

The slideshow below shows the August 2 actions in (in this order) Abepura, Waena and Wamena; and also those of  the weak counter-demonstration of Barisan Merah Putih militias funded by the Indonesian special forces, Kopassus, that was held close to the DPRP, or (Papua Province People’s Representative Council).

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