Protestors in Papua call for independence from Jakarta PDF Afdrukken

Bron:Radio New Zealand International

The Voice of New Zealand, Broadcasting to the Pacific

Posted at 22:31 on 01 December, 2008 UTC

Thousands protested amid tight security across Indonesia’s vast Papua region yesterday to call for independence from Jakarta.

An AFP correspondent said about 2,000 demonstrators marched through West Papua provincial capital Manokwari carrying banners calling for separation from Indonesia.

One man was arrested and struck repeatedly by police after apparently being caught carrying a banned "Morning Star" independence flag.

Displaying the flag and other "separatist symbols" is punishable by up to life in jail under Indonesian law.

Up to 10,000 people, many wearing traditional tribal clothing, gathered for a prayer meeting in Nabire town in neighbouring Papua province under the gaze of 500 police and soldiers.

Pro-independence Papuans celebrate December 1 as a national day commemorating former colonial power The Netherlands’ 1961 recognition of Papua’s right to self-rule.

Indonesia gained sovereignty over Papua in a 1969 UN-sponsored vote by a select group of tribal leaders widely denounced as a sham.

Activists and community leaders at the one protest rally read out a declaration calling for independence from Indonesia and the closure of massive mining and oil and gas interests belonging to foreign firms BP and Freeport McMoRan.