David Sobolim, Jayapura – Papuan students from the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Semarang and Salatiga Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) Committees held a joint protest action in the Central Java city of Salatiga in Thursday August 15.
The groups were protesting against the New York agreement which was signed by Indonesia and the Netherlands on August 15, 1962, because the agreement marked the start of human rights violations in Papua.
The peaceful action by the Papuan students began at 9 am at the flyover in the direction of the Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW).
The protesters put up banners in front of the UKSW campus rejecting the New York agreement signed 56 years ago then moved off towards the Salatiga city traffic circle. When they arrived at around 10.30 am, they gave speeches and shouted slogans supporting Papuan independence.
A number of activists took turns giving political speeches slamming the agreement between Indonesia, the Netherlands and the US saying that the people of Papua, who became legally subject to the agreement, were never a party to the deal.
"The New York agreement on the transfer [of power] of the Papuan region [from Holland to Indonesia] was made only in the economic and political interests of Indonesia and the imperialist country the United States", explained action coordinator Jackson Gwijangge in a press release on Thursday August 15.
Gwijangge said that the military operations launched in the Papuan district of Nduga on the orders of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo have resulted in violence against civilians and forced many people to flee. According to Gwijangge, between December 2018 and August 2019 as many as 185 civilians have died.
"[As a consequence of the armed conflict in Nduga] people are still seeking refuge in various neighbouring areas such as Lanny Jaya, Timika, Puncak and Wamena. [All of this goes back to] the New York agreement, [an agreement] which was illegal because it did not involve indigenous Papuans as the owners of the land", said Gwijangge.
In another speech, Mey Tebay declared that the Papuan nation became independent on December 1, 1961. Tebay stated that Indonesia must acknowledge its error in occupying Papua.
Another speaker, Otis Tabuni, said that the Indonesian government and military have not respected the laws which protect the human rights of citizens in Indonesia and have violated the civil and political rights of the Papuan people.
Tabuni stated that if Indonesia continues to use military force against civilians in Papua, sooner or later the country will disintegrate.
The demonstrators demanded that the government immediately withdraw TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (police) personnel from Nduga, give the Papuan people the right to self-determination and guarantee the Papuan people's right to free expression.
They also called on Indonesia to close down and halt the activities of huge mining operations in the land of Papua, including Freeport MacMoRan in Mimika and BP in LNG Tangguh.
Widodo was also asked to immediately revoke Presidential Regulation Number 40/2013 on Road Construction in the Framework of Accelerating Development in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, because it has legitimised the involvement of the military in constructing roads in Papua.
They also called on Indonesia to immediately open access to Papua for foreign journalists and humanitarian aid.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa Papua di Semarang dan Salatiga juga demo menolak New York Agreement".]