Thousands Rally for Independence Referendum in Indonesia’s Papua
July 08, 2010
About 2,000 Papuans marching in Jayapura on Thursday to urge the provincial legislature to demand a referendum on self-determination, and reject the region's special autonomy within Indonesia.(AFP Photo/Banjir Ambarita)
ardes11:37am Jul 9, 2010Can you blame them for feeling the way they do..Papuans has good reasons to complain as an island with a vast richness of resources (that is plundered away by others) does not reflect the prosperity of Java that has less resources other than population....
National government better take heed ..less talking, more money should be given back to the people..which is rightly theirs.
Jayapura. Thousands of Papuans rallied on Thursday to urge the provincial legislature to demand a referendum on self-determination, and reject the region’s special autonomy within Indonesia.
An upper house of tribal leaders, the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), voted in June to reject Papua’s autonomy status, introduced in 2001 after the fall of the Suharto military dictatorship in Jakarta.
Witnesses said more than more than 2,000 Papuans in Jayapura, some of them wearing traditional outfits, were marching about 17 kilometers from the MRP’s 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 parliament to hold a plenary meeting to declare that special autonomy is a failure and returned it back to the central government,” he said.
Haluk said the Indonesian government and Papuans, who are indigenous Melanesians, needed to establish a dialogue in which the UN or a neutral country would act as mediator.
“It’s as if Papua is a dark cave, which is always closed and guarded by the government,” he said.“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 over the referendum request.
“This is a political issue and we’re still waiting for other political groups in the parliament to make their decision,” Golkar party lawmaker Yan Ayomi said.
Papua has been the scene of a low-level insurgency for decades and despite Indonesia’s vast security presence in the region, Jakarta remains extremely sensitive about any sign of separatism.
Indonesia has sent mixed messages about its willingness to loosen its grip on Papua, offering talks with separatist rebels on one hand while jailing and killing their leaders on the other.
Access to foreign journalists in the area has been restricted by the government.