Mobs had called Papuan students "monkey" in Surabaya last week. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
"I Am Not a Monkey": Papuans Protest Against Racial Discrimination
BY :YUDHA BASKORO
AUGUST 22, 2019
A large group of Papuans marched on the streets near the National Monument complex in Central Jakarta on Thursday, demanding that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo put an end to racial discrimination against Papuans.
Last weekend, hundreds of Papuan students were arrested in Semarang, Malang and Surabaya for demonstrating against the 1962 New York Agreement that handed over West Papua from the Dutch to Indonesia.
In Surabaya, a mob surrounded a Papuan students' dormitory, effectively holding them hostage, as security officers looked on.
Videos spread on social media showing some of the mob shouting "Monkey!" at the Papuan students inside the compound.
Riots broke out in Manokwari, where protesters set fire to the Regional House of Representatives building, Sorong and Timika on Monday as Papuans protested the incidents in the three Javanese cities.
Many of the protesters on Thursday brought posters with the slogan "I'm Not a Monkey."
They demanded Jokowi pay more attention to human rights in Papua and not just let multinational companies exploit its natural resources.
Papua is home to the Grasberg copper and gold mine, the world's largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine, operated by Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-owned Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold.
Police and army personnel stood guard aound the National Monument on Thursday as protesters marched, made spaeeches and sang songs, including Papuan folk songs and "Morning Star," the anthem of the free Papua movement. The road in front of the State Palace was closed and traffic was diverted to Jalan Juanda.