Muhammad Aminudin, Malang – A demonstration by the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) in the East Java city of Malang ended in a clash with Pancasila Youth (PP) members who were offended by the protest.
The clash began when scores of AMP students were holding a demonstration demanding the right to self-determination for West Papua in front of the Malang City Hall on Tuesday December 19. The demonstrators enlivened the action with banners and speeches.
In the middle of the demonstration another group arrived and the situation became chaotic with police attempting to secure the action by trying to keep the two groups apart.
In order to prevent more chaos, police evacuated scores of students away from the location in trucks.
It is suspected that the incident occurred because the second group was offended by the banners brought by demonstrators which had symbols of the Free Papua separatist group and displayed the Morning Star flag.
The group that arrived also believed that the AMP was being provocative and acting against the spirit of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
"There was another group that didn't agree with an independent Papua. There was a misunderstanding. We tried to explain to the demonstrators (the students) that much of public opposes their action. We explained this", Malang City district police operational division chief (Kabagops) Police Commander Dodot Dwianto told journalists after securing the action.
Dwianto also explained that the evacuation of the students was in order to prevent anyone being hurt.
"We considered it from a security perspective, if there are victims then the police could be blamed. So we secured both of them, the Papuan students and the Ormas [mass organisation]", explained Dwianto.
Dwianto said that the police acted quickly in order to prevent a clash between the two groups.
The AMP protesters were taken to the Malang City district police offices in police patrol trucks while the other group was taken to the grounds of the Malang City Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).
The Papuan students were demanding the right to self-determination because they believe this is a democratic step for West Papua. They also called for all Indonesian military (TNI) and police to be withdrawn from West Papua.
"Perhaps there was a notification [of the protests] but the data was incomplete, the demonstrators brought banners that were deemed provocative by the other group. So we secured [the protesters], for the officers who handle permits we will see how the procedures were, whether they were correct", he asserted. (bdh/bdh)
Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth) was established by the army in October 1959, ostensibly to uphold the state ideology of Pancasila. During the anti-communist purge in 1965-66 the group took an active part in the slaughter of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and sympathisers. Under the New Order dictatorship of former president Suharto the organisation became an association of notorious thugs and petty criminals who carried out dirty work on behalf of the regime. The organisation still has close ties with various factions of the military and police and has been linked to criminal activities such as racketeering and extortion. In recent years has been involved in a number of violent turf wars with other vigilante groups and attacks on leftist groups and events that it deems to be "pro-communist" or "anti-Pancasila".
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Demo Mahasiswa Papua Nyaris Bentrok dengan Kelompok Berseragam PP".]