The Jakarta Post
A string of protests condemning the recent racial abuse against Papuan students has spread nationwide, with Thursday seeing hundreds of Papuans and activists staging an anti-racism rally in Central Jakarta.
The protesters initially gathered and started the rally in front of the Home Ministry building and the Army headquarters near the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara at around 11:30 a.m.
They held banners that read “Papuans are not monkeys” in apparent protest of the recent incident in which security personnel called Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, “monkeys” and stormed the students’ dormitory with tear gas before arresting them.
“We are condemning security officials who have used excessive force when arresting our friends in Surabaya,” said Albert Mungguar, one of the participants of the protest.
“We demand that the police […] immediately arrest security personnel who have shouted racist remarks against our friends,” he went on.
Some of the men involved in the rally were topless while some were seen wearing traditional Papuan clothes. Some protesters brought items bearing the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) symbol, which is associated with a movement that supports the independence of Papua.
Clashes initially broke out between the protesters and security personnel who guarded the rally when the crowds wanted to march toward the State Palace.
However, the protesters were finally allowed to stage their rally across the Palace and the police were seen guarding the area despite being not too close to the crowds. The rally was still going on at the time of the writing.
The protest in Jakarta was the continuance of protests now in their fourth consecutive day that initially broke out in cities and regencies across Papua and West Papua on Monday morning.
The rallies, which caused unrest in some areas of Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, came in response to incidents in which Papuan university students living in Malang and Surabaya, East Java were subjected to physical and verbal attacks over the weekend. (afr)