West Papuan students protest for sovereignty

Below is an abridged April 22 statement by the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights. A statement the following day reported that the seven arrested students had been released.

A demonstration involving about 500 West Papuan people was reported to have occurred in Abepura today. Large numbers of Brimob (paramilitary police) and military were visible in and around the Jayapura and also the rural districts of Deparpre, Dempta and Genyem this morning.

Police and military reportedly stopped large groups of people who sought to attend the demonstration. These reports said that 300 people were stopped in Boroway outside Sentani, who were from Genyem, Yuk and Lereh Districts. Another group of 300 people from Kerom District were stopped by the army at the Tami River.

The West Papuan student organisation Front Pepera, was reported to have organised the demonstration and was demanding that Indonesia recognise West Papuan sovereignty back to the year 1961. Front Pepera was reported to be demanding that the Indonesian government begin negotiations about sovereignty with the West Papuan people.

Police arrested seven students as they were unfurling banners.
The students were taken by heavily armed police to Jayapura.

Police said the group were being treated as witnesses at this stage and would not be charged. Other West Papuans who have been first held as witness have been charged with subversion related crimes.

There are now 20 West Papuan political prisoners who have been detained for involvement in peaceful demonstrations in recent months. A group of six demonstrators has been convicted in Timika and there are two groups in Manokwari and Jayapura awaiting trial.

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