Thousands of students rally to reject Otsus Plus and provincial division

By West Papua Media editors, with local stringers

November 5, 2013

Thousands of Papuan university and high school students led demonstrations in Jayapura on November 4, firmly rejecting attempts by Jakarta to impose the revived “new, improved” version of the failed Special Autonomy package, named “Otsus Plus”.

A coalition of student organizations, collectively known as ‘Students, Youth and People’s Movement’ (Gerakan Mahasiswa, Pemuda dan Rakyat Papua (GempaR Papua) –  the acronym GempaR literally translates as “Unarmed Insurrection” or “Uproar”), also called the actions to reject Jakarta’s latest plans to divide Papua into 33 districts and three further provinces.  The movement has been started by students from seven different high schools, technical colleges and universities in Jayapura, including Cenderawasih University, UMEL MANDIRI, STIKOM, STT GKI I.S.KIJNE and the opposition to the imposition of Special Autonomy Plus.  The rally was subject to several threats of violence from Indonesian security forces, who routinely deem all gatherings on peaceful Papuan aspirations as subversive and treasonous, according to rally sources.

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The planned administrative divisions of Papuan land and districts under Otsus Plus have been widely interpreted as a colonial act by most Papuan civil society groups, according to Papuan observers, and seen as a covert method of further increasing the massive militarisation of Papua.  Each new district automatically gains its own military and policy company (150 men for each), and each further province each gains their own battalions of Military (1500 men) and Police (1200 men), further adding to the estimated 45,000 troops in Papua, the most militarised area under Indonesian occupation.

“Special Autonomy ‘Plus’ will not change (the mind of) Papuans.  Special Autonomy Plus is not a solution for indigenous Papuans. We firmly reject the plan for Autonomy Plus in Papua and West Papua, we reject it, Autonomy Plus and the New Re-districting are the same (still) killing Papuan people, not the solution to prosperity ” said Hendrik Koroto, Demonstration Coordinator and student at the Faculty of Engineering.

As is standard with any demonstration in Papua, the Indonesian police attempted at least twice to violently prevent the students from peacefully continuing on the march, shadowing the gathering with several hundred heavily armed security personnel.  The notoriously hardline Jayapura Deputy Police Chief Kiki Kurnia, again confronted the marchers in an effort to disperse them, threatening the use of heavy force on the students with a display of hardware including heavily armed police, water cannon and Barrucuda armoured assault vehicles. Intense negotiations took place for almost 15-20 minutes between organisers and Senior Police However, Jayapura Police Chief Alfred Papare agreed to allow marchers to continue their march using one lane to allow traffic to pass.

Whilst one group was negotiating with police, a large number of students unexpectedly took to the road, and several waves of students began to march on the Governor’s office, holding hands and neighbours with a tight protective formation.    Police dragged barbed wire in front of the Governor’s office and blocked the main entrance with 5 police trucks, and several other vehicles, The student and civil society gathering then occupied the forecourt of the Governor’s office for over two hours, during which time Governor Enembe agreed to meet a delegation from the student representatives.  No arrests were reported but threats were allegedly made against keynote speakers and rally organisers, according to witnesses who spoke with West Papua Media stringers.

WestPapuaMedia

 

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