CNN Indonesia, Jakarta – Papuan people who are members of civil group Papuan People's Petition have staged protests in three cities on Friday, May 21, 2021 to voice opposition, among others, against the escalated armed conflict in Papua in the past month.
One of the rally coordinators, Lakar Sime, said that the rally took place in front of the Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta, on Jl. Asia Afrika in West Java's Bandung, and in front of the Yogyakarta Police headquarters in Yogyakarta.
"On today's protests, we demand the armed conflict in Papua to stop and the government to release the Papuan political prisoner," Sime told CNNIndonesia.com on Friday.
The people demanded the police to release four Papuans in detention namely Calvin Maolama, Rulland Levy, Simon Magal, and international spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Victor Yeimo.
Other demands voiced by the people including rejecting the government's plan to continue the Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus), rejecting security approach in solving Papua's problem and the deployment of excessive security forces in Papua land, as well as rejecting the terrorist label given by the government to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).
Other than expressing their concern on Papuan issues, the Papuans who took to the street also expressed solidarity with the Palestinians. They called for an end to the war in Palestine.
"Please stop the war and violence in Papua, in Palestine. We have witnessed civilians in Papua become victims of violence and wrongly accused of being part of an armed group," Sime said.
"We also lambaste the government for calling the TPNPB terrorist, the label will only create a new stigma for Papuans and add to the number of civilian victims by the Indonesian Military [TNI] and police," he added.
In the past month, armed conflict has been mounted between the Indonesian security forces and the TPNPB in Papua's Puncak Regency, with the TPNPB killed two teachers in Beoga District, burned schools, and shot dead the Papua Spy chief. The TNI and police have been reportedly bombarded a number of villages in Puncak while pursuing and attacking the TPNPB soldiers, following President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's order to capture all members of the armed group.