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25 Jul 2010

West Papua: Huge protests for independence

Sunday, July 25, 2010
In the highlands town of Wamena (pictured), shops and businesses closed as thousands of Papuans rallied on July 8 to call for a referendum on independence from Indonesia. Photo: westpapuamedia.info
A unprecedented mass demonstration took place on July 8 in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Straighttimes.com said that day.
Thousands of people joined a long march, walking 17 kilometres from the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) to the Papuan Provincial Legislature (DPRP) to reject the “special autonomy” granted by Indonesia in 2001. Protesters demanded a referendum on West Papuan independence and an internationally-mediated dialogue with Jakarta.
As protesters joined the rally from several points in the city, the crowd — claimed by media to number just a few thousand — swelled to nearly 20,000. They occupied the grounds of the provincial legislature under the watchful eye of Indonesian police and army units. SOURCE
The Indonesian government was caught completely off-guard by the effort. Nevertheless, authorities initially showed remarkable restraint in dealing with the protesters, especially given the long history of repression against anyone that speaks up for independence or dares to raise the Papuan Morning Star flag.
However, organisers said police arrested KNPB member David Frans Huby on the morning of July 8 in Jayapura as he was making a speech asking people to join the rally. Police also prevented groups of people from the nearby Keerom regency from joining the Jayapura march.

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