Papuan Tribal Council steps up pressure on government
10 August 2005
United Nations and rudimentary SOS flags were unfurled during a ceremony commemorating International Indigenous Day on Tuesday morning in Jayapura.
The ceremony, which was tightly guarded by dozens of police and Army personnel, came only weeks after U.S. congressmen proposed a controversial bill on Papua. The bill sparked uproar among Indonesian government officials as it questioned the validity of the process leading up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice in Papua, when selected Papuan leaders voted unanimously to join Indonesia.
The ceremony, which was organized by the Papuan Tribal Council, started off quietly but later drew attention after two Papuan youths unfurled a United Nations flag and two other youths unfurled a white flag bearing SOS.
They held both flags side by side before some 700 Papuan youths attending the ceremony, held in front of the house of Theys Hiyo Eluay, a Papuan leader who was murdered by Army Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers four years ago.
"By standing here with the two flags, we aim to draw the UN's attention in order to help us get justice. We have been treated discriminately on our own soil," said Andi Manobi, a Papuan youth leader.
The secretary-general of the Papuan Tribal Council, Leo Imbiri, said that Papuans had always been treated unfairly but Papuans would continue to struggle to bring an end to the injustice. One such injustice, he said, was that development in Papua was never discussed with the Papuan tribal community. Many Papuans lost their lives after Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969. "The killers of those Papuans have to be brought to justice. If they are not, Papuans will always question whether we were we incorporated into Indonesian just to be slaughtered?" said Leo.
Separately in Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met 29 Papuan leaders on Tuesday night at the State Palace to discuss the latest developments in the easternmost province.
The leaders, including Papua Governor JP Salossa and Papua provincial council speaker Jhon Ibo, went to the State Palace at the invitation of the President.
All high-ranking government officials attended the meeting, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Alwi Shihab, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo A.S. and chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).
In his welcome speech, the President said the meeting was aimed at discussing solutions to Papuan problems, adding that all problems had solutions. However, details of the meeting were not available as it was declared a closed-door meeting after the welcome speech.
The President had invited Salossa on Monday night to a meeting at the State Palace and during the meeting the President told the Papua governor not to let Papuans be provoked by the U.S. bill questioning the legitimacy of the Act of Free Choice that incorporated Papua into Indonesia territory.