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Jakarta Post

'We reject whoever comes': Papuans in Surabaya turn down visit by East Java, Papua governors

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 28, 2019   /   12:38 pm
'We reject whoever comes': Papuans in Surabaya turn down visit by East Java, Papua governors A banner that reads “We Reject Whoever Comes” on the gate of Papuan students' dormitory on Jl. Kalasan in Surabaya, East Java. (kompas.com/A. Faizal)

Papuan students living in a dormitory on Jl. Kalasan in Surabaya, East Java refused to welcome East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa and Papua Governor Lukas Enembe when the two visited their dorm on Tuesday evening.

A group of students in the dormitory went down to the front gate when they saw several vehicles — the governors’ motorcade — pulling up outside the gate at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Papuan students, however, stayed behind the fence and banged on the gate from the inside, telling Khofifah, Lukas and their entourages to leave the premises.

They also told the officials to read the words on a banner they had put up on the front of the gate that read “We Reject Whoever Comes”.

A number of students even chanted “Papua Merdeka” (Free Papua) as they threw rocks at the motorcade, kompas.com reported.

Due to security risks, the governors decided to leave as local police attempted to diffuse the tension.

East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Luki Hermwan and Maj Gen. Wisnoe Prasetja Boedi of the Indonesian Military (TNI) were among the officials traveling in the motorcade. 

“We discussed our visit in advance. There seems to have been a miscommunication,” Luki said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

The students put up the banner last week after a number of security personnel and local mass organizations hurled racist slurs at them as they accused them of refusing to celebrate Indonesia’s 74th Independence Day.

The racist abuse, which involved the students being called “monkeys” and “pigs” before being arrested and questioned for allegedly desecrating a national flag, triggered widespread anti-racism protests in the country, primarily in cities and regencies across Papua and West Papua.

The Brawijaya Military Command in East Java subsequently suspended and launched an investigation into five military personnel who were suspected of involvement in the physical and verbal abuse of the Papuan students.

Last week, Khofifah apologized on behalf of the people of her province for the racist abuse. (rfa/afr)