Forwarding from Jason McLeod
Friends, A brief update:
1. After occupying parliament for two days the police threatened to use force to disperse the crowd (about 1500 stayed overnight). Protesters leaders then called the occupation off.
2. Significantly all protesters – moderates and radicals alike – withdrew in an orderly and disciplined manner. (Remember the last time there was an occupation like this – when students blockaded the road between Jayapura and the airport in March 2006 over the Freeport mine – it ended up in a riot with Indonesian security personnel stoned to death, retaliatory action by the paramilitary police with student dormitories ransacked and scores killed, beaten and tortured, hundreds of students fleeing to PNG, and a severely traumatised student population that is only re-grouping now).
3. This is not a radical protest although student activists from both the KNPB (West Papua National Committee) and WPNA (West Papua National Authority) are involved. However the protest is led by respected church leaders and backed by the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP – or indigenous Papuan upper house). Moderate NGO leaders are also involved. In fact, all components of Papuan society are involved.
4. There are now negotiations and political manoeuvrings to try and secure Papuan political leaders support to hand back Special Autonomy
5. To what extent the Papuan civil service (PNS) is being drawn in is not yet clear, but there is widespread dissatisfaction with Special Autonomy by members form the PNS who are a major beneficiary of Special Autonomy along with the Papuan political elite.
6. Equally true we know militias have been armed and that the police are out in force but it is not clear what their movements will be.
7. Another demonstration has been called for 19 July
8. Papuans have called for foreign governments to withhold all funds for Special Autonomy until there has been a dialogue with Jakarta to resolve the crisis.
Please pass this round your networks.