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Jakarta Post

Papuans urge French journos'€™ release

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Sat, August 16, 2014   /  10:42 am

Hundreds of Papuan students in Yogyakarta affiliated with the Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) rallied in Yogyakarta on Friday, demanding the release of two French journalists being held by the Papua Police.

'€œWe urge the government to immediately release the two French journalists [being] held in Papua,'€ AMP spokesman Abby Douw said in an address to the crowd in the Titik Nol area.

As reported earlier, the Papua Police have arrested the two French nationals, Thomas Charles Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, on accusations that the two were doing journalism in Papua on tourist visas.

The AMP criticized the Indonesian government for the arrest, saying the act was undemocratic and that the two individuals were merely carrying out their journalistic tasks.

The students marched from a Papua student dormitory on Jl. Kusumanegara to Titik Nol under tight police escort. Along the journey, the students also chanted that Papua was not part of Indonesia.

'€œThe Aug. 16, 1961 New York Agreement, signed between Indonesia and the Netherlands concerning the future of Papua, is illegal, as it did not include Papuan representatives,'€ said Abby.

The AMP urged the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police personnel to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Papua.

The rally became tense as a group of men calling themselves the '€œPeace Loving Yogyakarta Community'€ suddenly appeared.

They unfurled banners saying '€œPapua + Jogja = NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia)'€œ, '€œJogja residents love Papua. Papua is part of NKRI'€, and '€œPapua is part of NKRI, NKRI or death'€.

When members of the Peace Loving Yogyakarta Community approached the AMP crowd, police stepped in to prevent them. Police then created a buffer zone of several meters between the two

One member of the Peace Loving Yogyakarta Community threatened to attack the AMP group if they remained on location past 12 p.m., but the event ended without incident after police escorted the student group back to the dormitory.