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Jakarta Post

The elephant in the room: Racism in Indonesia

  • Ghina Ghaliya and Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

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Jakarta and Batam   /   Sun, August 25, 2019   /  01:51 pm
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A police officer leads a woman affected by tear gas away from a street demonstration on Wednesday in Mimika, Papua. Public protests erupted in several cities in Papua and West Papua from Aug. 19-21 to protest the allegedly racially motivated response of security personnel against Papuan students on Friday in Surabaya, East Java.(Antara/Sevianto Pakiding)

Fueled by a viral video that appeared to show alleged security personnel using the derogatory slur “monkey” against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, the longstanding racial prejudice against residents of Papua and West Papua boiled over during recent tensions in the two least developed provinces in the country. The 2010 census conducted by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) found that the country had 1,340 etnicities, with the Javanese  formingthe majority at about 40 percent and Papuans comprising only 1.14 percent. Soeharto’s New Order repressed sectarian tensions, including anti-Chinese and anti-Islam sentiments, by banning individuals from public expression of tribal affiliations, religion, race and societal groups (SARA). Enacted during the New Order, Article 156 of the Crimin...