Papua March Sees Thousands Demand Referendum on Self-Determination

Papua March Sees Thousands Demand Referendum on Self-Determination

, 8 July 2010



About 2,000 Papuans attend a protest march in Jayapura on July 8, 2010 to urge the provincial parliament to demand a referendum on self-determination, and reject the region's special autonomy within Indonesia. The protestors some wearing traditional tribal outfit marched about 17 kilometers from the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) to the provincial parliament building. (AFP Photo/Banjir Ambarita)


Thousands of Papuans rallied on Thursday to urge the provincial legislature to end special autonomy and demand a referendum allowing them to determine their own fate.

An upper house of tribal leaders, the Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly (MRP), voted in June to reject Papua’s autonomy status, introduced in 2001 after Suharto’s military dictatorship collapsed in Jakarta.

Witnesses said that more than 2,000 Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura, some of them wearing traditional outfits, were marching about 17 kilometers from the MRP office to the provincial legislative building.

“Special autonomy has failed to protect the rights of indigenous Papuans,” protest leader Markus Haluk said.

“We want to urge Papua’s provincial legislature to hold a plenary meeting to declare that special autonomy is a failure and return it to the central government.”

Haluk said the Indonesian government and Papuans needed to establish a dialogue mediated by the United Nations or a neutral country.

“It’s as if Papua is a dark cave, which is always closed and guarded by the government,” he said.

“The Papuan people want a referendum as a solution to our problem.”

The provincial legislature canceled a meeting that was supposed to be held on Thursday on the referendum request.

“This is a political issue and we’re still waiting for other political groups in the legislature to make their decision,” Golkar Party lawmaker Yan Ayomi said.

Legislators had previously promised to take the issue up with the government following a similar protest in June.

Meanwhile, Jayapura Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan said that his officers had detained a French journalist identified as Edouard Jerome Francuise for covering the protest while only in possession of a tourist visa.




Hundreds rally to demand referendum in Papua
, 8 July 2010

Long march: Dozens of people from various groups march to the Papua legislative council in Jayapura to demand revocation of special autonomy for the province. The protesters called for a referendum on Thursday, saying the special autonomy was a failure. – Antara/Anang Budiono


Hundreds of people gathered outside Abepura postal office in the Papua capital of Jayapura on Thursday morning for a rally to demand a referendum in the province.

They said they were waiting for their friends who would join the demonstration to be held outside the provincial legislative council, reported.

Clad in traditional costumes, some of the protesters unfurled a banner, which read: “Special autonomy fails, ask for referendum.”

Shops and office buildings nearby were closed as police were seen standing on guard to prevent possible security threats.

Video's from July 8-9