The commemoration of the forced integration of West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya, now Papua) with Indonesia on May 1 was marked by peaceful protests by pro-independence supporters across West Papua's major towns.
The demonstrations condemned the highly fraudulent Act of Free Choice facilitated by the UN in 1969, which rubber-stamped West Papua as part of Indonesia.
Indonesia's security forces were on high alert around the commemoration sites. In Jayapura, an estimated 1200 people turned up at the burial site of the late Theys Eluay, the murdered chairperson of Papua Presidium Council, to protest. Thaha Al Hamid, presidium secretary general, reiterated his call for President Megawati to reveal the main actors behind Eluay's assassination.
Thousands of other independence supporters crowded the churches, open field and houses in Serui, Biak, Sorong, Fak Fak, Manokwari and Nabire to voice opposition to integrasi,.
No independence supporters were able to protest in Wamena due to threats from Barisan Merah Putih (the pro-integration Red and White Militia) and Laskar Jihad (right-wing Islamic militias).
[Abridged from <http://www.gn.apc.org/tapol>.]
From Green Left Weekly, May 15, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.