Jayapura. Eleven activists were arrested when a peaceful rally in support of full membership for the Papua independence movement in the Melanesian Spearhead Group was interrupted by police in Jayapura on Wednesday (13/04).
Hundreds of protesters marching under the banner of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) were prevented by police from staging a rally at Yos Sudarso Park in the heart of the Papua provincial capital.
The protesters, who demanded that the MSG grants permanent membership to the Papua independence movement, were forced to move the rally to the Cendrawasih University in Waena.
The 11 activists were detained for allegedly trying to occupy the Papua Provincial Council office on Jalan Sam Ratulangi.
During the rally, the protesters also objected against Indonesia's membership of the MSG, since the association was only intended for Melanesian countries, according to ULMWP leader Markus Haluk.
The ULMWP is scheduled to embark on a campaign in London next month in support of an internationally supervised vote on West Papuan independence.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government has received support from two MSG members, Papua-New Guinea and Fiji, to upgrade its status from a non-permanent member to a permanent member of the organization. The support came after Indonesian Chief Security Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan's recent visit to the two countries.
Joining the MSG has been one of Indonesia's main foreign policy objectives over the last few years. The government emphasized the fact that Indonesia has a substantial ethnic Melanesian population, in order to win over members of the MSG, especially Vanuatu.