Charles Maniani, Manokwari – The group Papua People's Solidarity (SRP) in Manokwari, West Papua province, have demonstrated to demand the immediate and unconditional release of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo.
"We the people of Papua want to convey to the Papua regional police to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Victor Yeimo. He is not a perpetrator of racism, but rather a victim of racism in the land of Papua", said Papua women's activist Theodora Palamina Rumbarak during a speech at the Wosi traffic light intersection on Friday May 21.
She also called for the release of Papua Student Alliance (AMP) members Kelvin Molama, Ruland Levi and other Papuan activists.
In her speech, Dora, as she is known by her friends, urged the state to stop criminalising Yeimo using unclear articles and to stop labeling Papuans as monkeys and terrorists.
"Mr Victor Yeimo is not a provocateur, [he is] not the instigator [of the August 2019 riots] as claimed by police. Our protest actions at the time were purely over the hate speech which referred to us as monkeys. We are human beings, just the same as people in other countries in the world", she said.
"The Papuan people will continue to fight demanding our rights as a dignified nation, and activists will not stop articulating the wishes of the Papuan people until the goal of independence is achieved", said Rumbarak.
In a speech, Sayang Mandabayan stated that along with other Papuan people's activists, their fight for Papuan independence is non-negotiable.
"Despite being terrorized, intimidated, even murdered, the Papuan people will continue to fight until Papua is independent", said Mandabayan.
Yeimo was declared a fugitive from the law two years ago following an anti-racism protest on August 19, 2019 in Jayapura. He was arrested by the Nemangkawi Task Force at Tanah Hitam in Abepura district, Jayapura city, on Sunday May 9 at around 7.05 pm. After an investigation by the Papua regional police he was charged under a number of articles.
During the action today, the SRP protesters wanted to convey their views to the West Papua People's Council (MRPB) but were blocked from doing so by police. The SRP will hold another peaceful action at the MRPB on Tuesday May 25 in accordance with their request.
A number of demands were expressed during the speeches, including that the Papuan people explicitly reject the extension of Special Autonomy (Otsus), that they reject the terrorist label being given to indigenous Papuans and the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Movement (TPNPB OPM) and that they support the TPNPB-OPM Papuan independence fighters.
The SRP also urged the state to give the Papuan nation the right to self-determination.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Rakyat Papua di Manokwari Minta Victor Yeimo Dibebaskan Tanpa Syarat".]