SMH: ‘President’ calls for recognition of West Papua

Tom Allard, Jakarta

December 2, 2011

An Indonesian policeman takes down the banned Morning Star flag raised by Papuan demonstrators in Jayapura.
Click for more photos (at smh.com.au)

West Papua Independence

An Indonesian policeman takes down the banned Morning Star flag raised by Papuan demonstrators in Jayapura. Photo: AFP

An Indonesian policeman takes down the banned Morning Star flag raised by Papuan demonstrators in Jayapura. Riot police guard as hundreds of West Papuans attend a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papua's independence from Dutch rule in Timika. Hundreds of West Papuans gather to take part in a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papua's independence from Dutch rule in Timika. Hundreds of West Papuans take part in a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papua's independence. Papuan demonstrators erupt in a short lived celebration as they raise the banned Morning Star flag on a bamboo pole in Timika. Police and troops opened fire to break up the protest. Papuan demonstrators wave the banned Morning Star Flag flag in front of armoured police vehicles. Police fire a warning shot to disperse hundreds of people gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papuan independence.  Armed Indonesian police speaks to a Papuan demonstrator after a separatist flag-raising ceremony. Police arrest a man after dispersing hundreds of West Papuans attending a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papua's independence from Dutch rule in Timika. Police arrest a man after dispersing hundreds of West Papuans attending a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West Papua's independence from Dutch rule in Timika. Papuan activists in traditional costumes and shirts painted with the colors of the 'Morning Star' separatist flag take part in a rally marking the 50th anniversary of failed efforts by Papuan tribal chiefs to declare independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Papuan protesters, with their bodies and faces painted displaying the banned 'Morning Star' flag, shout at a rally marking the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence. Papuan demonstrators march to attend a separatist flag-raising ceremony displaying the banned 'Morning Star' flag in Timika on the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence. West Papuans shout slogans during a protest to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the West Papuan independence from Dutch rule in Jakarta.  West Papuans protest to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the West Papuan independence from Dutch rule in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. Papuan protesters wearing their traditional costumes and others with their bodies and faces painted displaying the banned 'Morning Star' flag take part in a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence in eastern Indonesia's restive region of Papua. Papuan activists, their body painted with the colors of 'Morning Star' separatist flag, take part in a rally marking the 50th anniversary of failed efforts by Papuan tribal chiefs to declare independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961, in Jakarta, Indonesia West Papuans shout slogans during a protest to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the West Papuan independence from Dutch rule in Jakarta.

THE man anointed as the leader of an independent West Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut, says democratic countries that espouse human rights are hypocrites if they do not support the region’s desire for self-determination.

Speaking by telephone from his prison cell in Jayapura, Mr Yaboisembut was unflagging in his optimism that West Papua will be independent from Indonesia one day, even though not one state in the world supports his aspirations.

He spoke as thousands of West Papuans in the troubled region yesterday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first declaration of West Papuan ”independence”.

Forkorus Yaboisembut. While there were fears of widespread violence, the occasion was relatively peaceful, except for the violent dispersal of a rally in Timika and an early-morning fracas between police and separatists near Jayapura. One policeman was killed and another badly injured, with arrow wounds.

According to Papuan student leader Markus Haluk, four people – two men and two women – were shot at the Timika rally and taken to hospital after the gathering was dispersed.

Mr Yaboisembut was proclaimed president of the ”Federal Republic of West Papua” at the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a gathering of indigenous Papuan delegates, on October 19. Within two hours of being anointed, he was beaten and arrested in a crackdown that left six people dead.

”I call on all nations that love democracy and human rights and respect international law to recognise the Papuan nation,” Mr Yaboisembut told The Age.

”All speeches made by world leaders about democracy and human rights are empty speeches because they allow the discrimination to take place against Papua in Papua.”

West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a highly controversial plebiscite involving about 1000 hand-picked tribal leaders.

The economic benefits from the resource-rich region have largely flowed to Jakarta, foreign corporations or migrants from other parts of Indonesia, creating further antagonism.

”The Papuan people have been marginalised, discriminated against,” Mr Yaboisembut said.

”We have become minority in our own land. We are going to extinction.”

Asked about his own legitimacy given he was proclaimed president by a meeting of 1000 or so delegates, Mr Yaboisembut pointed to his role as chairman of the Papuan Customary Council since 2007. ”We applied the tribal mechanism,” he said.

Facing up to 20 years in prison for treason, Mr Yaboisembut’s future looks grim but he maintains West Papua will be free.

A declaration by Mr Yaboisembut demanding global recognition for an independent West Papua was read out at many rallies yesterday.

The banned Morning Star flag was raised in three towns but not at most events, including the biggest gathering, near the capital of West Papua, Jayapura.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/president-calls-for-recognition-of-west-papua-20111201-1o948.html#ixzz1fJlUQg6m

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