IPWP demonstration failed to enter DPRP

Cenderawasih Post, 17 October 2008

JAYAPURA- Threats of demonstration by various groups in Papua as a show of support towards International Parliament for West Papua (IPWP) was made real on Thursday, October 16. Mass of around 300 people forming from Presidium Dewan Papua (Papua Council Presidium), NGOs and students failed to reach DPRP. They were stopped in front of Cenderawasih University Perumnas III Waena by the anti-riot police who were on standby since morning to guard the mass movement. 

This front gate commotion disrupted the university activities. Many students chose not to enter campus after assessing the situation. The Uncen Dean assistant, Drs. Paul Holmes tried to persuade the masses to depart by reminding them that campuses are off limit from political demonstration. However, they refused to leave the campus premises.

At around 10.12 WIT, demonstrators led by Buctar Tabuni tried to orate outside of Perumnas III. They managed to get out but once again blockaded by riot police of one Satuan Setingkat Kompi (Batalyon) and Brimobda Papua Detasemen A with two SSK over three layers along the road to campus.

The situation forced the police to be extra careful only to let students who are not involved to exit the campus. An hour passed when the police was finally pulled back to Waena Expo when other crowd gathered for the same oration. Carrying a placard written Review Pepera 1969, this much smaller mass tried to march towards Abepura. The oration in front of the Museum Expo was an interesting sight since eight women wearing traditional outfit with black and white face painting led the march.

They were stopped en route to DPRP by riot police positioned to block the road after being pulled from Uncen. After several negotiation with Kapolsekta Abepura, Dominggus Rumaropen as commander in chief failed to reach an agreement, demonstrators decided to orate on sight. “On behalf of my ancestors and our mothers, know that freedom is near,” screamed Buchtar. He believed that the Suharto regime oppression style was adopted by the police stopping people of Papua to separate from Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia (United Nation of Republic of Indonesia). 

Oration was then continued by Sebi Sambon expressing 1963 and 1969 military invasions as political engineering to diminish Papua nation. On 15 August 1962, the governments of Netherlands and Indonesia reached an agreement on West Irian (Papua). A report surfaced that Papua was seized from the Netherlands through Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat (People’s Opinion Poll) on 12 July 1969. They questioned the validity of the poll and believed it to be a high rank conspiracy.

“If I killed a pig and stored it in a tight box, people could still smell it. This is what happened today. We demand the truth on Pepera,” said Sebi. He pointed his microphone towards the police asking which law prohibit Papua from its independence as it is the right of all nations. He also believed Papua people had the right to discuss independence based on human rights. This was followed by the screams of “Papua Independence”.

Suddenly, several vehicles arrived from Sentani carrying mass of Penjaga Tanah Papua (Papua Land Guardians) or Petapa. Around 700 people descended from 13 vehicles to join Buchtar Tabuni but they still could not break the blockade. Traffic temporarily stopped and diverted to the rear of expo building. 

Demonstrators also expressed their disappointment toward DPRP for not listening to their aspiration. This is evident from lack of DPRP member trying to talk to them. “Next time don’t choose them, they have a good life while we have to fight for our future,” shouted one member.

According to Cenderawasih Pos observation, police concentration was broken with the arrival of 200 demonstrators from Abepura heading towards Expo. The majority students demonstrators were  planning to join other group gathering in Expo but Brimobda acted swiftly by closing the road accesss from Expo bridge. “We were asked by chief of Papua police to meet our friends there,” said one of the coordinator to the police. Still, they were refused entry. This refusal angered the mob who insisted to pass through. Situation got worse that firearms were raised. After further negotiation, they were finally allowed to join the others but going through the rear of Expo instead of the main road.

Secretary of DPD, Thaha al Hamid, was then seen approaching the demonstrators. Questioned by a reporter, Thaha expressed the misconception that 15 October is Papua independence day. It is not. It is the launch date of International Parliament for West Papua, similar to International Parliament for Timor Timur that was responsible for internationalising Timor Timur issue resulting in its independence.

“The IPWP launch was the personification of concern by International community on Papua’s issue. They try to unite the vision, wish and strength, especially those who analyse Pepera 1969 such as Professor John Salford from Netherlands,” he said.

International Parliament wanted to synchronise their thoughts and views since they understand the issues in Papua. Perpera is one issue on debate for its legality. Jakarta said it’s final but academias wanted to study it further. This is the reason people of Papua wanted a dialog to learn the real history to justify the demonstration.

While chief of Dewan Adat Papua (Papua Indigeneous Board), Forkorus Yaboi Sembut S.pd expressed his religious support on Papua’s fight. He reminded people to fight on behalf of the people. “No more blood or death spilled on this land. You have to fight in a peaceful way.”

He added, “Pray because we have won. Judging by the fearful actions taken by Indonesian government, we have our victory.”

At the end of oration, Buchtar Tabuni expressed his demands for Perpera truth and an open dialog with the government. “We hope our demands are met or we will coordinate another demonstration four times bigger on Monday.”

17.42 WIT people started to disperse walking towards Abepura and some returned to Sentani. No major incident occurred during the demonstration. Roads in Waena and Abepura were quieter than normal with many shops decided to close. Several schools activities were disrupted, including public transport. In Abe, three universities; Uncen, USTJ and Akper were forced to cancel classes. Many schools in Abepura and Waena closed at 11.00 WIT for students to go home early.

To anticipate the demonstration, combined forces of police and army swept Lapangan PTC, Entrop on Thursday afternoon, 16 October. Every four-wheeled vehicle including the driver and passengers were thoroughly checked. They found nothing.


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