The Jakarta Post
While the country celebrates Independence Day, the Oikoumene Churches Forum in Papua called on the central government to organize a dialogue to channel Papuans' political aspirations for independence from Indonesia.
The forum deemed that independence celebrations held in Papua every year masked the real situation in the province, saying that it continued to be plagued by violence against local residents who were being denied freedom of expression.
In a press statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Saturday, it demanded the government stop all forms of violence and repression in Papua.
The forum, according to the statement, urged that the dialogue be mediated by Juha Christensen of Peace Architecture and Conflict Transformation Alliance (PACTA), who brokered peace talks between the central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 2005.
The forum cited a number of violations against freedom of expression that it claimed had occurred in Papua as of Aug. 15 this year.
The Papua Police, according to the statement, did not issue a permit for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) to stage what it called a peaceful rally against the annexation of Papua by Indonesia. The police, it added, had threatened to forcibly disburse any protest rallies on May 1.
Furthermore, it went on, the Papua administration, the local military and the police had banned all people in the province from rallying on May 1, the date that sovereignty over Papua was transferred to Indonesia.
On May 30, the statement added, soldiers and police officers shot at civilians gathered to celebrate the day, claiming three lives and injuring three others.
It said that shooting at civilians and the unconstitutional handling of legal cases were rife in Papua.
A 12-year-old-girl, according to the statement, was shot dead by the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) in Lany Jaya regency on July 1.
According to Suarapapua.com, the Free West Papua Campaign (FWPC) said that an official Free Papua Organization (OPM) office opened in the Netherlands on Aug. 15, exactly 51 years after West Papua was annexed by Indonesian after an agreement with Dutch colonists was signed in New York.
A similar office was opened in Oxford, the UK, in April, sparking a strong protest from the Indonesian government.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa summoned British Ambassador to Indonesia Mark Canning on May 6 and filed a diplomatic protest with the British government following the OPM office opening. (hrl)
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