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Papua residents told not to celebrate 'independence day' JAYAPURA - Papua Governor JP Solossa on Wednesday told residents not to celebrate the self-declared independence anniversary of Papua on Dec. 1. "All residents should go about their day as usual. Do not be provoked by groups that are planning to commemorate Papua's 'independence'," Solossa said. He was speaking after the West Papua Liberation Front announced plans to mark the 43rd anniversary of Papua's self-declared independence with a prayer service.

Pro-independence Papuans traditionally celebrate Papua's "independence" from Indonesia on Dec. 1. Former president Abdurrahman Wahid allowed Papuans to mark the day with flag-raising ceremonies, but the practice was banned when the nationalistic Megawati Soekarnoputri took office in 2001. Separatists proclaimed the independent state of West Papua on Dec. 1, 1962. Indonesia took effective control of Papua a year later, and separatists have continued to wage a low-level independence campaign in the province ever since.

Governor Solossa urged all Papuans to maintain security and peace, while working together to develop the province. "We are all tired of this situation. If we want change, let us work together. Differences are common, but do not allow them to disrupt development plans that aim to improve people's welfare," he said. Last Dec. 1 there were clashes between pro-independence Papuans and police after the independence supporters raised the Bintang Kejora flag, the symbol of the Papua independence movement. Several people were injured in the clash but there were no deaths.

Papuans, both those who want independence and those who do not, have long complained that the central government has failed to return to the province of fair share of the revenue from its rich natural resources. Past human rights abuses by the military have also fueled separatist sentiment. In 2001, the central government granted the province special autonomy and a greater share of its mineral wealth. But recent plans to partition Papua into three provinces have sparked discontent and violence.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Dody Sumantyawan warned residents any independence celebrations on Dec. 1 would be considered illegal activities. "There is only one independence day in the country and that is Aug. 17; there is no other," he said, adding that police would break up any illegal gatherings on Thursday. He said that if prayers were planned for Thursday, they should have nothing to do with politics.

West Papua Liberation Front secretary-general Selfius Bobi said the group's anniversary celebration would focus on prayers, and that there would be no raising of the Bintang Kejora flag. Prayer gatherings are planned for two locations: at the home of murdered pro-independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay in Sentani, near Jayapura, and at a church in Polimak, Jayapura.


Link to related event Related event:
Papua conflict


Posted in Human rights @ 01 December 2005 07:12 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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