The Jakarta Post
Tri Susanti, the field coordinator of a recent protest that ended with racist abuse being hurled at Papuan university students in Surabaya, East Java, has apologized for the insults.
The apology came only after protests broke out in cities across Papua and West Papua as people expressed their anger over the incident, in which Papuan students were called “monkeys” and other things by security staff and members of mass organizations.
“On behalf of the people of Surabaya and local mass organizations, we apologize if there were any member of the public who shouted [racist comments],” Tri told the press on Tuesday as quoted by Antara news agency.
She said she had initially led a number of local mass organizations to the Papuan students’ dormitory on Jl. Kalasan on Friday to “defend the honor” of the Indonesian flag after rumors emerged that one had been defaced and dumped into a ditch near the dorm building.
Tri said the protesters only wanted to hoist the national flag in the dorm, which she claimed had "never displayed the flag", adding that Friday was not the first time they had demanded Papuan students fly the Indonesian flag.
However, she denied that the members of the mass organizations had committed violence against the Papuan students.
During the incident on Friday and Saturday, the mobs who stormed into the Papuan students’ dorm accused the Papuans of refusing to celebrate Indonesia’s Independence Day.
Security personnel who joined the mob arrested the students after shooting tear gas into the dorm.
Rioting broke out in Papua’s capital of Jayapura as well as the West Papua cities of Manokwari and Sorong on Monday morning as locals took to the streets to protest the racist and violent attacks against the Papuan students.
The protests spread to other cities in the provinces on Tuesday, as The Jakarta Post received reports that residents in Sorong, South Sorong, Merauke, Fakfak and Biak also staged rallies to call for an end to the racist abuse of Papuans. (rfa/afr)