West Papua: Thousands march for independence

Thousands of West Papuans marched in the capital Jayapura on January 26, AFP said that day.

Marchers rejected the area’s “special autonomy” status within Indonesia and demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia.

Protesters chanted: “Indonesia the coloniser, Indonesia the oppressor, Indonesia the robber.”

The action included students from Cenderawasih University, the Indonesian Christian Students Movement and church members, Tempo Interactive said on January 26.

Protesters occupied the offices of the Papua People's Council (MRP) and demanded upcoming elections be cancelled and the council be disbanded, Tempo Interactive said.

The MRP, a body set up under special autonomy laws to represent Papuans, has limited powers and is usually ignored by the Indonesian government.

The head of the Papua Referendum Front, Selpius Bobi, told AFP: “The MRP had done nothing to improve the welfare of Papuans. Our people are poor in their own land.

“We reject special autonomy as that is the Indonesian government’s policy which has never supported the natives. We want a referendum that will allow us to determine our own fate.”

Papuans living in the central Java city of Yogyakarta also rallied on January 27, KRjogja.com said that day.