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Jakarta Post

Emboldened Papuan students demand referendum, raise Morning Star flags before State Palace

  • Donny Fernando

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 28, 2019   /   07:47 pm
Emboldened Papuan students demand referendum, raise Morning Star flags before State Palace Papuan students stage a rally in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday to demand that the government restore the internet service in restive Papua and West Papua provinces and hold a referendum on Papuan independence. (JP / Dhoni Setiawan)

The demands by Papuans for a referendum on self-determination spread to Jakarta on Wednesday, amid reports of civilian fatalities in Papua. 

Hundreds of Papuan students took to the streets in Central Jakarta following similar protests in the highlands of Papua earlier this week. 

The protesters marched from the Army headquarters to the State Palace, carrying banned Morning Star flags, a symbol of the Papuan independence movement.

“The students and the people of Papua have agreed to call for a referendum,” protest coordinator Ambrosius said during the rally. 

In addition to a referendum, the protesters also called for the governors of Papua and West Papua to facilitate a return of Papuan students back to their provinces. 

The students also demanded that the Information and Communications Ministry lift the government-imposed internet blackout that has been in place in the country’s easternmost provinces since last week. 

When they reached the front of the State Palace, protesters burned tires and performed traditional Papuan dances while chanting. The crowd dispersed peacefully at around 5:30 p.m.

The protests came amid reports that civilians had been shot by security forces during an antiracism rally in Deiyai regency, Papua. Eyewitnesses said that six protesters were feared dead and at least three others were injured during the incident.

Authorities have confirmed that one soldier died and at least two policemen were injured in the incident, but have yet to confirm civilian casualties. (kmt/tru)