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13 arrested on May 1 as thousands of Papuans demand independence

Viva News - May 1, 2012

Elin Yunita Kristanti, Banjir Ambarita (Papua) – Hundreds of Morning Star flags of various sizes were flown when thousands of Papuans held a protest action to demand national independence for Papua in Manokwari, West Papua, on Tuesday May 1.

The protesters held a long-march around Manokwari city carrying hundreds of Morning Star flags – the symbol of Papuan independence – as a call for and demand on the Indonesian government to immediately restore the sovereignty and independence of the Papuan nation.

According to the demonstrators, the dialogue offered by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is not a solution to resolve all the problems in Papua. Although the Morning Star flag was flown openly, police took no action whatsoever.

The long-march began at the Papuan Traditional Council (DAP) office on Jl. Trikora Wosi then proceeded through Jl. Yos Sudarso and Jl. Merdeka and ended in Kwawi. Traffic in Manokwari city was totally paralyzed by the protest action.

13 arrested

The Morning Star flag was also flown during a protest at the grave of Papuan figure They H Eluay in Sentani, Jayapura. In the end police moved in and pulled down the flags after deploying troops and a Barracuda armored vehicle. As many as 13 people were arrested and taken in for questioning by the Jayapura municipal police.

Papua regional police spokesperson Assistant Superintendent Yohanes Nugroho Wicaksono, when sought for confirmation as he was taking part in securing a protest in the vicinity of Imbi Park in Jayapura city, confirmed the arrests. "Yes, there were 13 people arrested because they flew flags that were similar to the Morning Star, but there status is still as witnesses", he said.

According to Wicaksono, actions in which the Morning Star flag was flown took place in several Papuan regencies including Manokwari, Biak, Sorong, Jayapura and Jayapura city, in which thousands demanded Papuan independence.

"The protest actions in these regencies definitely had no permits, because the organisations that held the actions, are not registered with the National Unity and Social Protection Agency (Kesbang Linmas), but we still tolerated them, as long as they did not disturb the public order", he asserted.

Flying the Morning Star flag is in fact a criminal violation, although the only people arrested were those in Sentani. "In other areas meanwhile, it is currently under investigation", he added.

The protest actions were still continuing as this report was filed. (umi)

[1 Mei, Ribuan Warga Papua Tuntut Kemerdekaan – VIVAnews. Selasa, 1 Mei 2012. Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]

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