SURABAYA, Indonesia – About 300 West Papuan demonstrators calling for independence for the restive Indonesian area confronted off with counterprotesters Saturday within the nation’s second-largest metropolis.
The demonstrators in Surabaya chanted “Freedom Papua” and held banners demanding a referendum for independence to mark Dec. 1, which many West Papuans think about the anniversary of what they are saying ought to have been their independence.
“We’re demanding the reality of our historical past,” a speaker shouted on the crowd on the rally, which was organized by the Papua College students Alliance. “Referendum for independence is the correct answer for the folks of Papua.”
The gang, together with many sporting headbands with the morning star flag as a separatist group image, was blocked from marching to town middle by scores of counterprotesters from a number of youth organizations in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province. Some confronted the pro-independence protesters with sharpened bamboos.
“It’s possible you’ll rally to voice your aspiration, however do not carry the separatist concern,” mentioned a speaker from the rival group. “Papua is part of Indonesia ceaselessly, and we’re keen to die to defend the unitary state of Indonesia.”
Members of the 2 camps pushed one another, however a number of hundred anti-riot police prevented the 2 teams from clashing, mentioned East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera.
The protest ended after about two hours. Nobody was detained by police, Mangera mentioned.
The Free Papua Motion, a separatist group in Indonesia’s restive Papua province, declared independence from Dutch rule on Dec. 1, 1961. That was rejected by the Dutch and later by Indonesia.
Papua, a former Dutch colony within the western a part of New Guinea, was integrated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored poll that was seen as a sham by many. A small, poorly armed separatist group has been battling for independence since then.
For years, a low-level insurgency has plagued the mineral-rich area, which is ethnically and culturally distinct from a lot of Indonesia.
Indonesia’s authorities, which for many years had a coverage of sending Javanese and different Indonesians to settle in Papua, is now additionally attempting to spur financial growth to dampen the separatist motion.