By Robert Isidorus on 04:59 pm May 20, 2015
Democratie????? Vrijheid van meningsuiting????? Kisten vol bananen :-)
An activist from the Papua Student Alliance attends a demonstration in Malang, East Java on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Ari Bowo Sucipto)
Jakarta. Police in West Papua detained 70 activists rallying in support of West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) on Wednesday.
Dozens of protestors, including students and members of pro-independence group the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), took to the streets of provincial capital Manokwari.
At least 70 members of the KNPB were arrested during the rally and are being questioned by police, the group’s spokesman Sarpas Mbisikmbk said.
Sarpas said protestors had gathered to show support for the MSG bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULM).
The ULM, which is made up of the KNPB, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation and the Federal Republic of West Papua, was formed late last year. It is seeking full membership of the MSG, an inter-governmental grouping of Melanesian states.
Papua Police Spokesman Adj. Sr . Cmr. Harapan Sitorus said the protesters did not have a permit to rally and they would be questioned to find out “which group they belonged to.”
Police believe the KNPB is affiliated to the armed Free Papua Movement (OPM), which has staged a low-level insurgency against Jakarta’s rule over Papua since the province was annexed by Indonesia in 1969.
In March, a policeman was assaulted and his firearm stolen during a KNPB fundraising event, police claimed.
The MSG is expected to decide on the ULM bid for membership in July, and Indonesia has recently stepped up its lobbying of Melanesian states to prevent the proposal succeeding.
President Joko Widodo visited MSG member state Papua New Guinea earlier this month and called for closer ties with the country.
Foreign Affairs Minister Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi, meanwhile, took a whirlwind tour of three Melanesian states to discourage support of the ULM bid in March.