Thursday, August 22, 2019

Papuans Protests

The same as all nations but perhaps even more so, Indonesia is an artificial country. The name Indonesia dates from the 18th century when it was employed by an English naturalist to classify the ethnic and geographic area. "Indonesia" was later adopted by nationalists as a word to imagine a unity of people. 

Indonesia is a very ethnically diverse country, with around 300 distinct native ethnic groups and 700 local languages. The country's official language is a variant of Malay.

In 1961-1962 Papua was invaded and annexed by Indonesia. An estimated 30,000 Papuans were killed in the period from Operation Mandala through to 1969. It was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a ballot seen by many as sham.

Indonesia has now deployed more than 1,000 military to the province amid spreading protests.  5,000 people protested in and around the city of Timika. Several thousand protesters, many wearing headbands with a separatist flag, also staged peaceful rallies  in Jayapura, the capital city of Papua province. Hundreds also marched through the streets of Sorong city, and in the town of Fakfak on the western end of the island they hoisted the banned Papuan flag. Videos posted by residents in Fakfak and circulated online show demonstrators chanting “Freedom Papua” and holding banners demanding a referendum for independence. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Fakfak. The unrest was triggered by the detention of dozens of Papuan students in Surabaya city, on the island of Java. 

Police had stormed university dormitories after Papuan students staying there after allegations that they had intentionally damaged the Indonesian flag in the dormitory’s yard. Wider protests followed videos showing police, backed by soldiers, calling the Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs.”

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