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Students demand referendum, reject autonomy

Jakarta Post - June 4, 2013

Arya Dipa, Bandung – Members of the Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) studying in West Java staged a rally on Monday demanding the United Nations hold a referendum on Papua.

Chairman of AMP's central committee, Rinto Kogoya, said a referendum was the best solution for prosperity.

"Granting special autonomy is not a solution," he said during the rally in front of the Gedung Sate gubernatorial office compound. "The right mechanism is referendum."

The students brought various banners proclaiming independence. Kogoya said the division of regions, which is part of special autonomy, brought more conflicts among the local elites and residents.

"That is why the Indonesian government and the UN have to immediately organize a referendum on self-determination for Papua," he said. "Indonesia must withdraw all of its soldiers and police from Papua and the UN must immediately recognize the sovereignty of the state of West Papua."

The Papua issue was taken into the international arena by Free West Papua leader, Benny Wenda, who established a representative office in Oxford, the UK. "That [the office] is for campaign and dissemination purposes for the state of West Papua and have reached Europe, the US and Australia," Kogoya said.

Meanwhile, AMP spokeswoman Lince Waker said the students had a strong basis for their demands because Papuans declared independence – which was not recognized by Indonesia – from the Dutch on Dec. 1, 1961. The Dutch refused to hand Papua to Indonesia in the 1949 recognition of sovereignty.

Waker said despite many changes of government, the Papuan resistance, which is supported by certain elements in Western countries as well as Pacific nations, has not yet been quelled.

"This is not about social justice or economic disparity. This is about the identity of Papua as a state, which cannot be solved by Indonesian government policies," she said.