Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thousands of Papuans Rally in Jayapura Demanding Referendum on Independence and Self-Determination from Indonesia

I live in California, so sometimes the stories in Southeast Asia fall off my radar. Nevertheless, I will be watching this story where thousands of Papuan indigenous people are rallying in Jayapura for self-determination to see if the events escalate.

THOUSANDS of Papuans rallied on Thursday to urge the provincial parliament to demand a referendum on self-determination, and reject the region's special autonomy within Indonesia.

An upper house of tribal leaders, the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), voted in June to reject Papua's autonomy status, introduced in 2001 after the fall of the Suharto military dictatorship in Jakarta.

Witnesses said more than 2,000 Papuans in Jayapura, some of them wearing traditional outfits, were marching about 17 kilometres from the MRP's office to the provincial parliament building.

'Special autonomy has failed to protect the rights of indigenous Papuans,' protest leader Markus Haluk told AFP.

While I was reading this story, I found an earlier incident in 2006 involving Indonesia and Papua where a group of forty-two (42) Papuans sought and were granted asylum in Australia alleging Indonesia genocide against the Papuan people.

The asylum seekers arrived in January. Independence activists said they were fleeing "genocide" and oppression by the Indonesian military and police.

I guess the question to ask is whether Indonesia is committing genocide against the indigenous Papuan people?

The Straits Times ; Sydney Morning Herald

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