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Papuans reject 1969 'Act of Free Choice'

Liputan 6 - August 3, 2011

Manokwari Ė Residents of Manokwari, West Papua, held a protest on Tuesday August 2 by marching through the city's major streets.

The protesters, who were supported by the Papuan Traditional Council (DAP), the West Papua National Authority (ONPB) and the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), condemned cases of alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. They also challenged the 1969 Act of Free Choice or Pepera, which was sponsored by the United Nations and the United States.

The large number of demonstrators caused a number of shop owners to close their businesses beforehand. The protest action that had been taking place since early morning proceeded peacefully until the demonstrators dispersed.

In Timika, a protest action was centered on the Timika Indah soccer field, where demonstrators expressed their support for a conference on West Papua's future organised by lawyers, academics and foreign parliamentary members in Oxford, England. The academics believe that the act of free choice sponsored by the UN in 1969 was legally flawed. The Timika event was also enlivened by a traditional women's dance.

In Jayapura meanwhile, thousands of Papuans packed Jl. Expo Waena in Abepura in a protest action against the referendum 42 years ago. As a result, the flow of traffic towards the Sentani Airport had to be redirected through an alternative route. Demanding that another referendum be held, the demonstrators marched on foot to the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRD).

A series of protest actions, which were held simultaneously in various parts of Papua and West Papua, proceeded peacefully until the protesters disbanded. (BOG)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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