Rallies reject Indonesian status quo in Papua, and demand referendum

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February 22, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield at WestPapuaMedia.info with local sources

Thousands of people took part in peacful rallies across West Papua on Monday, February 20,  rejecting attempts by Indonesia to impose new development policies on Papua, and demanding an internationally supervised referendum as the key step towards solving the Papua problem.

The rallies, organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), took place in Jayapura, Biak,  Manokwari, Timika, Nabire, Wamena, Yakuhimo and Merauke.  According to initial reports, all rallies remained peaceful despite standard Indonesian security force threats to forcibly break up proceedings.

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In Jayapura, a long march was held from Abepura to the offices of the Papuan People’s Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua or MRP) with the crowd of close to a thousand people shouting “we want referendum”; “Special autonomy has failed, why start it again”; and “We reject the dialogue between Jakarta and Papua and demand a Referendum”.

Mako Tabuni, on behalf of the KNPB, told the gathering that the the plans by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to impose a new body U4PB (or Program to Accelerate Development of Papua and West Papua) to implement the failed Special Autonomy package is not a solution to the problems in Papua and was thoroughly rejected by West Papuan people.  Only a Referendum would address those grievances, and it must be. held soon.  U4PB, with authority over all of Papua, is to be headed by former army intelligence chief Bambang Darmono, himself subject to numerous allegations of human rights abuses whilst stationed in Aceh.

Tabuni expanded: “when in Papua, there are two paths of narrow and wide roads. Papuan Special Autonomy the road is paved with a lot of money, including UP4B, but the road is narrow.  The road to independence is a wide open road, like the road to referendum being fought KNPB”.

Former Political Prisoners Yusak Pakage and Saul Bomay echoed the KNPB concerns and demanded that Indonesia just try to listen to the will of the people and stop trying to implement policies proven to have been a failure, like Special Autonomy.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully with a promise of escalation of mass actions.


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